Max Blumenthal is scheduled to discuss his book Goliath at the New America Foundation in Washington DC on Wednesday, December 4th. Afraid that Blumenthal’s reporting has breached the walls of the beltway, Israel’s defenders have started the predictable McCarthyite campaign to shut it down.
It seems it started with this Ron Radosh post on the right-wing Pajamas Media. After recounting Eric Alterman’s greatest hits against the book, Radosh says:
One could — and should — ignore Blumenthal’s book. It is disconcerting to find, however, that on December 4th, the New America Foundation is having a book talk by Blumenthal, introduced by the noted counter-terrorism expert and best-selling author Peter Bergen. The announcement for the talk calls Blumenthal’s book “an unflinching, unprecedented work of journalism which depicts a startling portrait of Israeli society under siege from increasingly authoritarian politics.”
I doubt whether the NAF staff consulted many of them about the decision to sponsor a talk, or if they even are aware it is taking place. But one cannot take lightly the decision of the organization to have this event. There are many worthwhile books out there with liberal authors who would have been happy to make a presentation at their venue. To bring Blumenthal, whose work has so far had an appeal only to the far Left and to the radical fringe, is to legitimize this book and make its publication accessible to a wider audience that is outside Nation magazine circles and that otherwise would not have known about it.
Yet, the stakes are even higher! The issue here isn’t just giving Blumenthal undue publicity, but that the event itself may be an integral part of the Democratic Party’s foreign machinations:
All of this raises an interesting question. At a time when the Obama administration is putting into effect a very, very bad deal with Iran, and incurring the just opposition of our ally Israel, and John Kerry is busy trying to again force Israel into making concessions to promote another round of meaningless Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, how related is NAF’s decision to sponsor a book talk by Blumenthal to the administration’s new agenda? Does someone who plans events at NAF believe that this is the time to portray Israel in the harshest light possible, in the hopes that it will turn public opinion against Israel, and thereby gain approval for foreign policy measures opposed to Israel’s need for security?
Dear reader, while you may laugh, others are being kept up at night by this very possibility. One such nightwalker is Commentary‘s Jonathan Tobin who picks up the Radosh piece: “NAF’s positions are predictably liberal . . . but next month, the NAF will put something different on the agenda: anti-Zionism.” (Editor’s note: Press here)
Tobin continues, and yeah, he goes there too:
by doing so they are also sending a dangerous signal in the world of D.C. ideas that talk about doing away with Israel is no longer confined, as it should be, to the fever swamps of the far left or the far right. Instead, thanks to the Nation and its friends at the New America Foundation, open hatred against Israel and the campaign to delegitimize Zionism have now been given an undeserved veneer of respectability in Barack Obama’s Washington.
In one sense, it is hardly surprising that Slaughter’s group would embrace Blumenthal’s book at the same time that the current head of the State Department is counseling Congress to “ignore” Israeli concerns about Iran and betraying its democratic ally with deals that legitimize Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
And then he goes even further:
Just as it would be a scandal if some conservative think tank of comparable stature hosted an author of an openly racist book or one advocating the virtues of slavery, there is something shocking and fundamentally indecent about NAF’s decision to host a writer who is the moral equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan’s David Duke.
Whew, boy. Blumenthal has gone from being a charter member of the Hamas Book of the Month Club to now “advocating the virtues of slavery.” What are they saving for when Goliath comes out in paperback?!
As ridiculous as they may be, these attacks are making the rounds and taking aim at New America Foundation President Anne-Marie Slaughter. Ali Abunimah captured the right question on Twitter:
— Ali Abunimah (@AliAbunimah) November 26, 2013
Sadly, this is a question. We shall see.