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Max Blumenthal responds to latest critique of his book, in the ‘Forward’

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JJ Goldberg

JJ Goldberg

This post was first published at Max Blumenthal’s site yesterday. We republish it here in full because the effort to dismiss Goliath, Blumenthal’s devastating book about Israel, has become a full-court-press even in liberal circles. –Ed.

Picking up where Eric Alterman left off, and defending his thousands of words of error-laden invective, JJ Goldberg of the Jewish Daily Forward has turned out an indignant non-review (see the latest Alterman flubs here) of my book that reveals its chapter titles but fails to discuss their contents. Goldberg warps the responses of Alterman’s many critics, failing to provide links, and concludes with a distorted account of an exchange I had with Ian Lustick, mangling my quotes to falsely to suggest I had demanded the mass departure of Jewish Israelis from historic Palestine. Goldberg might have once been a sharpshooter in the Israeli Border Police, but in his attempt to reinforce Alterman’s attacks, he badly misses the mark.

Echoing Alterman, Goldberg expresses outrage with the titles of the chapters in Goliath but makes no attempt to present what I actually wrote in them or why they are titled as they are. For instance, he bemoans the name of my chapter, “This Belongs To The White Man,” but does not mention that the title was merely a reference to the notorious statement by former Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who said the following about non-Jewish African asylum seekers in Israel: “Most of those people arriving here are Muslims, who think the country doesn’t belong to us, the white man.”

Ignoring the hard facts presented in Goliath, Goldberg has spent the years since Israel elected the most right-wing government in its history projecting his political wishful thinking onto the country’s pro-settler leadership, imagining everyone from Benjamin Netanyahu to Shaul Mofaz (check out this howler) as potential peacemakers, which is not unlike describing Rob Ford as the political future of Canada.

Goldberg has labored to sustain his trance-like optimism in the face of the reality of record settlement construction as well as other harsh realities. After the Egyptian military staged its coup, an act that has led the U.S. to cut military aid, Goldberg warned that any reduction in military aid to Egypt would “kill Mideast peace hopes,” writing that “America’s billion-dollar-plus annual aid package to Egypt does not exist for Egypt’s benefit, but for Israel’s.” Apart from this strange formulation, as though Egypt only exists for the U.S. as a function of his notion of what its policy should be toward Israel, he completely neglected to mention the U.S. at all, as though the U.S. has no independent interests or principles of our own at stake.

To clarify Goldberg’s distortions for readers of The Forward: Goldberg claims I did not “tell[] of the thousands of rockets bombarding Negev towns for years” before Operation Cast Lead. However, I wrote on the first page of my book that “Hamas’s armed wing…fired dozens of rockets” in November 2008.

Similarly, Goldberg claims I did not “mention the hundreds of Israelis killed by…suicide bombers.” In fact, I devoted an entire chapter of the book to Nurit Peled-Elhanan, a remarkable Israeli academic whose daughter, Smadar, was killed by a suicide bomber. I discuss at length her and her husband’s experience after their daughter’s murder and how they became two of their society’s more outspoken opponents of the Israeli occupation. I go on to detail Israeli society’s response to suicide bombings during the Second Intifada in my chapter, “The Big Quiet,” explaining how it influenced the rise of hafrada, or Israel’s policy of demographic separation.

Goldberg further takes issue with an exchange between Ian Lustick and me during an October 17 discussion of Goliath at the University of Pennsylvania. But, not providing the link to the video, he produced a badly mangled version of my remarks.

Here is the context to the exchange in question: Lustick had remarked that Israeli society could increasingly be described as “fascistic,” suggesting that Israel had possibly crossed a moral Rubicon, then asked me to take on the role of God and decide whether to destroy “Gomorrah,” even though there were some “good” people living inside it – people like the Israeli dissidents, critics and reformers I profile extensively in Goliath.

My response proposed a direction for preserving the presence of Jewish Israelis in a future Israel-Palestine while stripping away the violent, inhumane mechanisms of demographic engineering, endless dispossession and the walls that have pitted Israeli Jews against the Arab world. My prescription was essentially a rejection of Ehud Barak’s explicitly colonial view of Israel as a Europeanized “villa in the jungle.”

Philip Weiss of the website transcribed parts of my answer and summarized the rest. Here is the relevant part of transcript, which Goldberg omitted. (The full exchange arrives around 38:00 in the video):

“As for the Jewish Israelis… These are Israelis who are attracted to Europe, who do not feel that they are part of the Arab world. And it’s that attraction to Europe, that manifestation of Herzl’s famous quote, that the Jewish state will be ‘a rampart of civilization against barbarism,’ which has led to the present crisis and the failure of Zionism. Because there is absolutely no way for Jewish people in Israel/Palestine to become indigenized under the present order, and that’s really what has to happen. You have to be willing to be a part of the Arab world, because you’re living in the Arab world. If you don’t, then you have to maintain this system and continue to harden the present system.”

My meaning is plain: That the walls must come down — the separation wall, the legal walls of ethnic discrimination, and the psychological walls — as a basis for true peace.

Goldberg claimed without evidence that “Lustick appear[ed] stunned,” when Lustick nodded in acknowledgement of my answer and did not express any perceptible displeasure; nor did he state any to me. In fact, what I said was intended to support what Lustick wrote in his recent essay on the “Two State Illusion” for the New York Times, Lustick offered a remarkably similar vision of an alternative future allowing Israeli Jews to live in peace in the Middle East; in which ultra-Orthodox Jews and Mizrahi Jews of Arab descent – groups routinely derided by liberal Zionists like Goldberg as retrograde and politically burdensome — could emerge as their society’s bridge builders, forging practical alliances with Palestinians:

“In such a radically new environment, secular Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank could ally with Tel Aviv’s post-Zionists, non-Jewish Russian-speaking immigrants, foreign workers and global-village Israeli entrepreneurs. Anti-nationalist ultra-Orthodox Jews might find common cause with Muslim traditionalists. Untethered to statist Zionism in a rapidly changing Middle East, Israelis whose families came from Arab countries might find new reasons to think of themselves not as ‘Eastern,’ but as Arab. Masses of downtrodden and exploited Muslim and Arab refugees, in Gaza, the West Bank and in Israel itself could see democracy, not Islam, as the solution for translating what they have (numbers) into what they want (rights and resources). Israeli Jews committed above all to settling throughout the greater Land of Israel may find arrangements based on a confederation, or a regional formula more attractive than narrow Israeli nationalism.”

I mentioned in my reply to Lustick that his question related to a debate that was raging among many of my leftist friends and acquaintances in Tel Aviv. As I detail in the final chapter of Goliath, “The Exodus Party,” a number of my human rights-minded Israel friends have chosen to exercise the secondary, “emergency” passports that provide multitudes of Ashkenazi Jewish Israelis with EU citizenship, and they have moved to places like Berlin and London. Then there are others, like the Israeli journalist Haggai Matar, who are seeking means of assimilating themselves into the wider culture of the Middle East.

Goldberg has claimed, “Outside the far-left and anti-Israel blogosphere, ‘Goliath’ has been ignored.” But it is Goldberg who has ignored reviews by figures like Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz’s military and political correspondent, and Akiva Eldar, the Israeli journalist and author who served as chief political columnist for Haaretz for 35 years — writers who could hardly be described as “anti-Israel.” Eldar wrote that, “a significant part of [Goliath’s] strength lies in the effect that is naturally created when a foreign correspondent describes the reality of your life and surroundings. Thus, as if from a bas relief, details are raised to which the local eye has become so accustomed that it no longer notices their existence.”

I hoped to engage Goldberg in a discussion about his critiques of my book and about the future of Israel-Palestine. Unfortunately, that debate will apparently not take place. When Atlantic editor Robert Wright invited Goldberg to engage with me on the online political debating forum Bloggingheads, Goldberg declined, as Alterman did before him.

Max Blumenthal

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author.

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64 Responses

  1. Edward Q on November 2, 2013, 11:06 am

    It sounds like Goldberg didn’t even read the book, just the chapter titles.

  2. Justpassingby on November 2, 2013, 11:15 am

    Should people (Max in this case) engage with people that just want to smear?

    • ritzl on November 2, 2013, 5:39 pm

      @jpb Absolutely YES! imho. The CW baloney gives avenue to increased exposure for the non-baloney rebuttal. Avenues that would not exist if not for the original BS. If the Forward wanted MB’s exposé to escape notice they would ignore. But I think they can’t help themselves. They have to give space to a JG to spout his take. So MB gets his say, because they can’t help themselves. CW inertia AND undoing. Seeds of its own destruction, and all that.

      To me the other interesting question is whether the Forward editorial staff are intentionally facilitating the factual rebuttal by giving platform to the original CW/Goldberg clearly superfluous hooey. My sense is that they are doing so because the conversation is changing/opening and fact-based alternative views are becoming increasingly un-ignorable, even inside the Jewish community. In no small part, propelled by MW.

  3. Bandolero on November 2, 2013, 11:18 am

    “Most of those people arriving here are Muslims, who think the country doesn’t belong to us, the white man.”

    I’ld like to see Obama’s face if he decides to visit Israel and Eli Yishai would answer this to Obama.

    • lysias on November 5, 2013, 3:15 pm

      Google “Obama & Kushi”, and you will see how often Israelis have called Obama by the Hebrew equivalent of “n****r”.

  4. ramzijaber on November 2, 2013, 11:54 am

    I have so much respect for Mr. Blumenthal. I sometimes wish we, Palestinians and Arabs, have people who can openly and honestly provide critique from inside. It cleanses the soul and ensures we are on the right path. Thank you Mr. Blumenthal.

    • Donald on November 2, 2013, 12:08 pm

      Slightly off-topic, but things are changing in the MSM. The New Yorker just published three letters in response to Shavit’s account of the Nakba a couple of weeks ago. To my pleased astonishment, the first one praised the article for discussing the Nakba and the other two criticized Shavit for, in the end, sort of justifying it. The second letter is by a professor at Hebrew University who says Shavit was guilty of worse than “shooting and crying”–he said he was essentially “ethnic cleansing and crying”. I hope Phil posts on this. Here’s the link–
      New Yorker mail

      I think Blumenthal is still a little too harsh for the MSM, so they’re trying to ignore him, as they would have tried to ignore Jimmy Carter’s book (which was much less harsh, but still very critical by MSM standards in 2006) if it had been written by anyone other than an ex-President. The New Yorker published a liberal ZIonist confessional/justification of the Nakba, but not a full-throated condemnation. But the center of gravity on this issue is shifting.

      • Cliff on November 2, 2013, 5:38 pm


        You are absolutely right – well, with respect to the New Yorker maybe.

        The letter from the Hebrew Univ. prof. is great:

        In the aftermath of the Six-Day War, which ended in the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, a number of Israeli soldiers published memoirs of the war, expressing ambivalence about what they had participated in. In particular, they agonized over the misery they had brought upon thousands of Palestinian civilians. In Israel, this genre was quickly mocked as “shooting and weeping.” Shavit elevates the genre to new heights of cynicism. Writhing with sympathy for the Palestinian victims of the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Lydda, Shavit ends up shamelessly justifying the act. If he were a Serbian national expressing equivalent views about atrocities committed during the Yugoslav wars, he would be considered an apologist for ethnic cleansing. Perhaps because Israeli Jews enjoy a sort of immunity as “eternal victims,” Shavit was able to indulge in this exercise of “ethnically cleansing and weeping.” It adds insult to the injury suffered by the people of Lydda.

        Shlomi Segall

        Associate Professor, Department of Political Science

        Hebrew University

        Jerusalem, Israel

      • lysias on November 5, 2013, 3:17 pm

        The latest New Yorker has a shameful piece accepting the Warren Commission’s myth that JFK was killed by the lone nut Oswald.

    • Edward Q on November 2, 2013, 12:26 pm

      Asad Abu-Khalil provides a fairly unsparing critique of Arab politics.

      • ramzijaber on November 3, 2013, 8:23 am

        You’re right, although I don’t agree with everything he says but I like his healthy sarcasm. I wish we had other introspective critiques who are more in the mainstream.

    • just on November 2, 2013, 12:46 pm

      Ramzi, I totally agree with your beautifully expressed thoughts. I add my thanks to Max and to you.

    • bintbiba on November 2, 2013, 3:36 pm

      Right you are, Ramzi.
      Glad to have you back!

      • ritzl on November 2, 2013, 5:52 pm


      • ramzijaber on November 3, 2013, 8:24 am

        just, bintbiba, and ritzy: thank you. good to be back.

    • ritzl on November 2, 2013, 6:06 pm

      Please explain. It’s important that you do, imho.

      For me as an outsider, neither Jewish nor Palestinian, it seems that the Palestinian view is nothing but a cacophony of conflicting views. What is lacking, again from my outsider view, is one predominant Palestinian view.

      The mainstream “Jewish view” (which is simply anything the Palestinians want we are against, which is to say, to encourage the cacophony) otoh, is largely, centrally, and strenuously enforced.

      I know that BDS represents one effort to make a view dominant, but there’s such diffusion to that within who speaks for the Palestinian community (maybe again because of the above propaganda) that it’s hard to tell what’s publicly ascendent. Polls v. pols v. diaspora activists?

      Just asking.

  5. seafoid on November 2, 2013, 12:11 pm

    Anshel Pfeffer attempts a b*tchslap in Ha’aretz

    “The tagline of Blumenthal’s Goliath is: “Life and Loathing in Greater Israel,” which kind of says it all. But does it do what it says on the tin? Blumenthal admits that he knew little of Israel before he arrived for a series of prolonged stays in 2009, but he doesn’t seem to have landed with much sympathy. The densely reported “on the ground” book contains not only his own impressions and coverage of nearly four years spent in the country, but a great deal of historical material reaching back to the pre-independence era. From the outset, the reader is left with no doubt that Blumenthal is out to prove that Israel is a racist entity, has always been one, that there is no moral justification for its existence as a Jewish state, and it is in rapid demise due to the increasing departure of members of its young generation.
    A literary critic or reviewer (and I am writing here as neither) could pan “Goliath” for being riddled with inaccuracies, devoid of any compassion for Jewish Israelis (and not much for Palestinians either), for its breathtaking hyperbole and lack of any qualifying context to its devastating conclusions. But most of these flaws don’t really matter because as far as it goes, “Goliath” is pretty factual when it comes to providing the outline and main details of “Loathing in Greater Israel.” There is a lot of racism and hatred and prejudice and injustice in Israel, and regrettably this was the case both under left- and right-wing governments. That’s no secret. Indeed, while lambasting Israeli journalists for toeing the official line (disclosure – I am one of the Israeli journalists Blumenthal singles out for this) the book’s copious notes are mainly references to Israeli media.

    Blumenthal did not invent Israeli racism. Far from enough has been done to solve the inherent contradictions in Israel’s raison d’etre: to be both a Jewish and democratic state. Blumenthal could have toned down his rhetoric, refrained from the copious use of Nazi=Zionist imagery with its liberal sprinklings of “ghettos” and “concentration camps,” and have been a lot more meticulous with his fact-checking, but that wouldn’t have changed the book in any great deal. Because for Blumenthal, life in Israel is loathing and there is no sympathy for the life in Israel or for Israelis, or any other context because that is the context.
    Rapturous receptions

    Blumenthal represents a view among American Jews (of course it also exists elsewhere, but that is another column) that the very concept of a “Jewish” state is racially repugnant. Today it is a minority view but a century ago it was pretty much the prevailing attitude among the American Jewish intelligentsia. It was certainly the official view of Reform Judaism in 1917 when its rabbis strenuously opposed the Balfour Declaration. Whether or not Blumenthal should have added under the definition of “Life” in Israel also something which is not about “Loathing” is an argument you cannot have with someone who cannot, or does not want to, see beyond his loathing.

    Obviously it’s impossible for me to put myself in another reader’s shoes and try to imagine whether someone who was not aware of racism in Israel will be convinced by the massive array of facts assembled by Blumenthal, and accept his conclusion that the Zionist project is indeed inherently immoral and unjustified. Anyone who regularly reads this newspaper knows just how bad the situation is and I doubt whether Blumenthal will tell them anything they didn’t know, or change their minds. But the huge majority of those who write and edit Haaretz, if not all of us, still believe Israel has just as much legitimacy to exist as any other state. Our debate is about what is wrong with and how to fix Israel, not over whether it should exist.
    Not surprisingly, the reception both books have received, with a few exceptions, has been generally rapturous. “Like Dreamers” was positively reviewed in mainstream and Jewish publications, while Goliath was feted in magazines and websites of the ultra-liberal and radical left. This division pretty much reflects the prevailing views in both Jewish society and America as a whole, but it will be interesting to see whether either side of the map will allow itself to be challenged by the opposing narrative. I doubt that will be the case. ”


    He’s prejudiced
    He doesn’t care about the bot jusfifications for the nihilism
    We are trying to change from the inside (very ineffectually)
    Any opposition is marginal and nuts

    • Ira Glunts on November 2, 2013, 1:24 pm

      Playing the Mondoptimist, what struck me was that Pfeffer admitted that the racism that Blumenthal describes is valid. When Pfeffer says everyone knows this, he may be speaking about Israelis, but not Americans. Maybe the lines below would cause some to read the book. They sure seen to me like good quotes in support of Goliath.

      Maybe this is one reason Max mentioned the Pfeffer review.

      Still as you write there is much in Pfeffer to criticize.

      “But most of these flaws don’t really matter because as far as it goes, ‘Goliath’ is pretty factual when it comes to providing the outline and main details of ‘Loathing in Greater Israel.’ There is a lot of racism and hatred and prejudice and injustice in Israel, and regrettably this was the case both under left- and right-wing governments.”

      “Anyone who regularly reads this newspaper knows just how bad the situation is and I doubt whether Blumenthal will tell them anything they didn’t know …”

      • LeaNder on November 2, 2013, 1:39 pm

        I have to join you here Ira, concerning the second passage seafoid highlighted:

        A literary critic or reviewer (and I am writing here as neither) could pan “Goliath” for being riddled with inaccuracies, …

        I wondered if he was aware of the larger discussion about Alterman’s take at that point, admittedly. Or the pro versus the contra camps claims. But he does not write one should, he writes “one could”, but one should not he ultimately decides.

      • ToivoS on November 2, 2013, 1:50 pm

        Ira, I agree that Pfeffer’s critique supports the main point of Goliath that Israel is a deeply racist society. It is very honest. I think Pfeffer fears the implications of those facts becoming widely known in the the US. At one level I agree with him — if the facts in Max’s book became widely known in the US I think it would significantly undermine US support for the state of Israel. This would be an existential danger to the whole Zionist enterprise.

        Many writers at Haaretz have been trying to warn the Israeli public that the West Bank colonization process will undermine Zionism itself. They see that day is coming. They certainly do not want to hasten that day by losing US support.

      • seafoid on November 2, 2013, 3:48 pm

        I think they overemphasise the “radical left” angle. I see it as a rhetorical weakness. They are really scared this zionism antidote is going to seep into and ‘contaminate’ the mainstream. And when that happens all bets are off.

      • seafoid on November 2, 2013, 4:17 pm

        He seems to be saying “Yes, there is vile racism here but we are working on it and can manage”.
        Blumenthal is saying that the problem has gone beyond the capacity of Israeli self medication. There are too many sonsofbitches over there calling the shots and it doesn’t matter what Ha’aretz or Gush Shalom are doing.
        That is hard for people to accept. A zionist system failure was previously unthinkable. Like devout catholics coming to terms with systematic child rape by clerics. The system you grew up and were educated in is not going to make it. The good stuff is as endangered as the bad. What has defined judaism since the end of ww2 is going to be ruthlessly exposed as a cruel fraud. The Jewish prison.

      • MHughes976 on November 2, 2013, 5:30 pm

        Pfeffer never gets round to saying ‘In spite of the very bad situation and the problems that Blumenthal correctly raises I and the Haaretz staff still support Israel’s right to exist because…’ What would their reason be since they make such a point of admitting to the obviously bad side of things? I’m sure they’d have an answer but what would it be? Genuine question.

      • LeaNder on November 3, 2013, 12:30 pm

        He seems to be saying “Yes, there is vile racism here but we are working on it and can manage”.

        seafroid, I don’t agree, I think the most important part of his article is the juxtaposition of the two books. For me this juxtaposition and the way he deals with the two positions ultimately vaporizes the term: radical left, which may well have triggered your responses. Doesn’t he show what is missing in the Israeli non-radical narrative?

        What does it signal? That Max perspective just as the people we empathize with are not a part of the Israeli political “left” like e.g. Labor or Meretz, but these people definitively shape his book and somewhat shape his Jewish American outlook on the Israeli society.

        That said, I responded to the term too, in both cases from my own non-Israeli European perspective, with some limits, e.g. concerning African asylum seekers. We had similar mob responses, or responses from the right over here, to be fair. Not just to black people but to about any type of asylum seekers and against the most diverse groups including Turkish Germans. But to return to my topic here, the use of the term does not really contradict the way Max uses it himself in his book:

        This is the first of six quotes containing the term:

        Sheen’s tale of transformation was not unusual. Many Israelis I knew who had transitioned from a Zionist upbringing into radical left additivity, especially those who had emigrated from Western countries where multiculturalism was celebrated, had snapped almost as soon as they were forced to reckon with the militaristic culture of their new country. In numerous cases, however, those who made the dramatic break with Zionism found sanctuary within a hermetic anarchist subculture where veganism, communal living, and rejection of consumer culture were de rigeur


        I doubt that his intention is meant to denigrate them, which seems to be your response. One cannot term radical something that should be considered mainline? Right?

        Here another quote that drew my attention due to the usage of “sensible” versus “radical”. Sensible left somewhat reminded me of our long gone Richard Witty:

        On Campus politics, Kafri commented, “[The Israeli communist party] Hadash is a bunch of pro-Palestinian radicals. But we’ve worked with Meretz. We even have some members of Meretz in our movement. They are the sensible left. They are Zionists, not radicals.

        There is even a passage where Max puts some distance between himself and what he calls the “enrages of the left”. Recounting his first encounter with David Sheen whom you already met above:

        Three days later, I met Sheen in front of a McDonald’s on the first floor of Tel Aviv’s chaotic and vast central bus station. He was tall, and lanky, completely bald, and dressed in baggy camo pants and a loose, black shirt–the uniform of Israeli anarchists, but uncrinkled and much cleaner than the other enrages of the left.

        If I would put much weight on this little passage in a review, I could probably suggest that the book is a close look at the Israeli society by a Jewish American who necessarily brings along his own prejudices or what he considers right versus wrong, including his own biases. But this prejudice is rarely ever visible as in this context for me, obviously since I share his perspective to a large extend or in any case curiously follow it along. Still the fact remains that the voices that apparently share his American (Western) “outsider” perspective inside Israel are always either on the radical left or in the anarchist camp.

        Last quote to show you that both Pfeffer and Ravid ultimately can claim to rely on Max’ own usage.

        Woody became my initial liaison to Tel Aviv’s radical left, introducing me to a loose-knit band of a few hundred anarchists, disillusioned ex-soldiers, disaffected children of ultra-Zionists, queers, academics, and generally idealistic and disillusioned young people who came of age during the Second Intifada when the liberal Zionist “peace camp” closed ranks with the militaristic right wing. This tiny band of social deviants comprised the only grouping of people I met who sincerely embraced multiculturalism and who took concrete action against the discriminatory foundations of their county’s political apparatus.

        Radical is always a matter of perspective, and all they do is suggest to their readers that the author’s perspective is probably influenced by these radicals, and not doubt it is. But ultimately Pfeffer suggests that there is something missing in the Israeli author’s non-radical perspective too.

      • seafoid on November 3, 2013, 1:45 pm

        The “radical left” denigration is thrown at everyone , not just in Israel. He says the book will appeal to the radical left. So Phil Weiss would be covered.
        I don’t think this site is particularly radical. It’s more like common sense.

        Radical left in Israel = social democrat elsewhere , too.

      • Kathleen on November 2, 2013, 10:15 pm

        Not a “new” racism. Expanded targets of the racism that has existed in Israel for decades

  6. LeaNder on November 2, 2013, 1:27 pm

    I haven’t reached Anshel Pfeiffer yet in Max fear and loathing yet, but it is interesting to see that both he and Akiva Eldar seem to be able to write about the book in a way both Eric Alterman and JJGoldberg apparently are not.

    Concerning JJ’s obsession with typos or bad proofreading: over the pleasure of seeing Max cite a line from Allen’s Howl my attention in this context apparently was pretty diminished.

    Concerning the supposedly wrong Moshav definition, I remember I realized at this point that it was slightly in conflict with what the word triggered on my mind too. But consider the short disenchantment-with-Zionism-biography of David Sheen Max gives us, I am not 100% sure that JJ is correct, after all he does not know the exact type of the Moshav David moved into:

    describes the moshav, a small-holders’ farming village, as a “collective farm,” and much, much more) the critics’ main complaint seems to be that Alterman’s review is the only one that’s appeared in print so far. Outside the far-left and anti-Israel blogosphere, “Goliath” has been ignored.

    Wikipedia suggests several variants mentioning only the two most frequent.

    Strictly considering David Sheen’s short CV, or radical left outlook some type of collective or cooperative would make quite a bit of sense. But does it really matter beyond trying to smear Max as someone who does not even know the necessary basics about Zionism?

    In any case I shifted to Google and Wikipedia on my Kindle at that point, that I remember well.

    I have to admit, I love Max approach and style and probably will get myself a copy of his earlier book about the GOP down the road.

  7. Philip Munger on November 2, 2013, 3:05 pm

    Come join Max and me this afternoon (evening?) at the firedoglake Book Salon. Max will be there to answer questions about his important book.

    • just on November 2, 2013, 6:55 pm

      You might want to head over to FDL– Max and Phil are doing an amazing job in toto.

      • ritzl on November 2, 2013, 7:12 pm

        Comments closed. Why?

      • just on November 2, 2013, 7:45 pm
      • ritzl on November 3, 2013, 1:45 pm

        Tanks just. Excellent!

      • Philip Munger on November 2, 2013, 7:27 pm

        Thanks. It was fun. I was afraid it might get contentious.

        Eric Alterman declined my invitation to show up in the comments, but Marcy Wheeler and Kevin Gosztola showed up to question Max. Seems like Marcy (emptywheel) is quite taken with Goliath. Kevin G hopes to interview the author soon.

      • just on November 2, 2013, 7:52 pm

        I found it surprising and wonderful that the usual naysayers did not show up to dispute the truth that Max tells………….

        This is a beautiful moment. Hasbara fail. Even the most ‘intelligent’ of the ‘dark side’ did not dare to “show up”. I wager that many Jewish people are grateful to Mr. Blumenthal– as they should be.

        Many thanks to you, Mr. Philip Munger– you are treasure, indeed.

  8. Rusty Pipes on November 2, 2013, 3:30 pm

    Goldberg distorts Phil Weiss’ response to Goliath to suggest that Blumenthal, the author of a book that chronicles the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Israel, is advocating the expulsion of Jews from Israel:

    Blumenthal gives a convoluted answer that comes down to this: “There should be a choice placed to the settler-colonial population” (meaning the entire Jewish population of Israel): “Become indigenized,” that is, “you have to be part of the Arab world.” Or else…? “The maintenance and engineering of a non-indigenous demographic population is non-negotiable.”

    Lustick appears stunned. And not only Lustick. Philip Weiss, founder and co-editor of Mondoweiss, who was in the audience, wrote afterwards, in a rare rebuke of his own writer, that he saw “some intolerance in that answer.”

    We live in a “multicultural world,” Weiss wrote. There should be room for Israelis. “The issue in the end involves the choice between an Algerian and a South African outcome.” Mass expulsion versus coexistence. “I’m for the South African outcome.”

    Blumenthal isn’t. It’s a chilling moment, even for the anti-Zionists among us.

    • Rusty Pipes on November 5, 2013, 2:53 pm

      In his latest, Alterman amplifies Goldberg’s distortion of Phil Weiss’ transcript and reaction to Blumenthal (Alterman has previously characterizerized Weiss as a fanatic anti-Zionist):

      What truly shocks me, however, is how extremist [Blumenthal] has now revealed himself to be. When I joked about the “Hamas Book of the Month Club,” I was referring exclusively to his hatred of Israel and his ridiculously one-sided apportionment of blame. (Well, also the Nazi metaphors.) But read to the end of J.J. Goldberg’s column about the controversy and you will see that his beliefs go even further than I dared imagine. He actually wants to expel the Jews from historic Palestine period–that is unless they become Arabs and embrace the culture of their neighbors. My “Hamas” joke is looking less funny every minute. This view, need I point out, is the mirror image of the most lunatic of West Bank settlers. Seriously. How extremist an anti-Zionist do you have to be to make Phil Wess nervous? (Can you imagine? Cue the “crazy” metaphors.)

      Alas, read Max Blumenthal’s ‘Goliath’ Is Anti-Israel Book That Makes Even Anti-Zionists Blush and see if you think I exaggerate. Here are his exact words, as reprinted by JJ in response to a question from a member of a University of Pennsylvania audience about the role of Jews in his ideal Middle East.

      “There should be a choice placed to the settler-colonial population” (meaning the entire Jewish population of Israel): “Become indigenized,” that is, “you have to be part of the Arab world.” Or else…? “The maintenance and engineering of a non-indigenous demographic population is non-negotiable.”

      I had to go over that two or three times just to believe it (as well to make sense of it), but Goldberg put it in context. It is often said that the Palestinians people have been tragically mis-served by their leaders. I fear the same must be said about their cheerleaders.

      Yet again in this exchange, Alterman is relying on a secondary source, Goldberg, without reference to primary sources, Blumenthal and Weiss. Is this the method he has taught the students in his journalism classes?

      • Cliff on November 5, 2013, 2:58 pm

        Alterman is Dershowitz without the expertise and Pam Gellar without the conviction.

        He’s as threatening as peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

      • Rusty Pipes on November 5, 2013, 3:24 pm

        Correction: make that “fanatical” rather than “fanatic.” In one of his many blog posts on this subject (which he is at pains to note, he is writing for free; unlike his initial weekly column, which he is paid to write, in which he trashed the titles of Blumenthal’s 400 page book, which he has been at pains to note was not strictly speaking a “review”), Alterman described Phil Weiss and this site thus:

        Check the link that Blumenthal, himself, provides and you’ll find an article by the fanatical anti-Zionist and Blumenthal booster, Philip Weiss, in which he reports on 2011 panel discussion in which I participated at the 92nd Street Y. (My words are often big news for Weiss’s website, though its accuracy can be iffy at best.)

  9. Henry Norr on November 2, 2013, 4:06 pm

    I tried to post a version of this comment earlier, but it appears to have disappeared into the bit bucket, so I’ll try again.

    First off, huge props to Max for his book, which describes the Israel I’ve experienced better than anything else I’ve read, and for all his other work, including his firm, dignified, and effective responses to Alterman and J.J. Goldberg.

    That said, I don’t understand why he finds anything strange about Goldberg’s observation that “America’s billion-dollar-plus annual aid package to Egypt does not exist for Egypt’s benefit, but for Israel’s.” To me that seems absolutely on the money. Ever since the late 1970s, when the U.S. started it, our “aid” to Egypt has been nothing but a bribe to their military. Originally, it had two purposes: to pull the generals away from their previous alignment with the Soviet Union and into the U.S. camp, and to get them to agree not to mess with Israel. After the demise of the Soviet Union, the only reason for continuing such massive aid was to persuade them to keep adhering to the deal with Israel, despite popular support for the Palestinians. In effect, it’s hush money.

    Some people dispute this analysis by pointing out that all that money really goes to U.S. arms manufacturers. That’s certainly true – apparently it goes from the U.S. Treasury to a Wall Street bank and thence to Lockheed-Martin et al., without ever even passing through Egypt – but the generals end up with the toys.

  10. ritzl on November 2, 2013, 7:29 pm

    Max Blumenthal as Israel’s de Toqueville?:

    “…and Akiva Eldar, the Israeli journalist and author who served as chief political columnist for Haaretz for 35 years — writers who could hardly be described as “anti-Israel.” Eldar wrote that, “a significant part of [Goliath’s] strength lies in the effect that is naturally created when a foreign correspondent describes the reality of your life and surroundings.”

    Interesting… :)

  11. Phan Nguyen on November 3, 2013, 12:31 am

    When Goldberg’s piece first appeared in The Forward, I attempted several times to add a comment, since he had misrepresented my article along with Max Blumenthal’s book. For whatever reason, I was not allowed to comment on the article, though I have been able to comment in The Forward previously. Below is what I wanted to say.

    J.J. Goldberg cites an article I wrote as follows:

    One blogger, writing at the anti-Zionist group blog, where Blumenthal is a regular contributor, questioned Alterman’s right to call himself a critic of Israel, since he sometimes defends it.

    This is ridiculous and puerile. At no point did I deny that Alterman has been a critic of Israel. Nor did I ever create an imaginary rule that a critic of Israel cannot “sometimes defend it.”

    Instead, it is Alterman himself who admits to imposing limits on his criticisms of Israel by prioritizing “Israeli security over Palestinian rights”—and as I pointed out, that false inverse relationship between “Israeli security” and “Palestinian rights” undermines his ability to be a conscientious critic of Israel.

    In other words, Alterman himself points out the limitations of his criticisms of Israel.

    Yet Goldberg missed the point of what I wrote because he was relying on Alterman’s equally misleading and self-serving interpretation of what I wrote.

    Goldberg even attacks the “left-wing blogosphere” for calling Alterman a “liberal Zionist”—perhaps unaware that Alterman calls himself a liberal Zionist.

    Moreover, Goldberg focuses on Alterman’s spelling error—as Alterman also does—in order to bypass the more egregious errors, such as Alterman’s fabricating of quotes and incidents from Blumenthal’s book.

    It is no wonder, then, that Goldberg also mangles a quote by Blumenthal.

    Details, which both Goldberg and Alterman have conveniently ignored, can be found in the two articles I recently wrote on Mondoweiss.

    • Philip Munger on November 3, 2013, 1:01 am

      That’s pretty cheap of them, Phan, to not allow you to respond to an inaccuracy they published about you.

      I’m looking forward to Goliath’s impact in Europe. I hope it gets translated into Spanish, French, German and Russian soon. I think it is going to make a bigger impact in Israel than in the USA.

      Five years from now it will be looked upon as an even more important book than The Israel Lobby.

      • Rusty Pipes on November 4, 2013, 3:54 pm

        I hope that it gets released in books-on-tape — the perfect gift for liberal friends who like to consume information on the commute in small chunks. As it is, the book would be a great gift for the holidays (400 pages for under $30, such a deal!). Perhaps in its second printing, Nation books could take a page from Lemony Snicket and print a reverse side on the dustjacket (for shy readers): instead of “The Pony Party: The Luckiest Kids on Earth” how about “The Donkey Party: The Luckiest Arabs in the Middle East.”

  12. Nevada Ned on November 3, 2013, 12:57 am

    I’m reading Max Blumenthal’s book, and it’s just great.

    Two previous books, by Jimmy Carter and by Mearsheimer and Walt, made a big difference in the way Americans viewed the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Both books were met with attempted smear jobs by the usual suspects, and both books became best sellers anyway.

    I hope Max’s book is as influential as the other two. The quality is there.

    It’s very telling that Terry Gross (NPR) interviewed Max for his previous book, Republican Gomorrah, but not this book. Evidently if you write a book critical of right-wing Christian religious nuts in the GOP, you’ll get a respectful hearing. But if you write a book critical of right-wing Jewish religious nuts in Israel, you’ll be attacked.

  13. Phan Nguyen on November 3, 2013, 1:47 am

    Max Blumenthal’s article above links to a tweet of mine that points out some flaws in Alterman’s fourth attack piece. That single tweet references some earlier statements that I had tweeted. I didn’t intend to go into detail because pointing out everything wrong about Eric Alterman is very time consuming, but I’ll elaborate on the three points of my tweet here:

    Some (but not all) of the flaws in Eric Alterman’s fourth piece against Max Blumenthal’s Goliath

    Point one:

    As for the Manekin/Blumenthal claim that “almost no Jews outside of Israel knew who [Yeshayahu] Leibowitz was when he was alive,” this is just nonsense. Leibowitz served as editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia Hebraica, read by countless Jews all over the world.

    Charles Manekin—a.k.a. Jerry Haber, the “Magnes Zionist”—wrote an entire response to Alterman’s misinterpretation of Yeshayahu Leibowitz. As Haber pointed out, Alterman confuses the Encyclopedia Hebraica with the Encyclopedia Judaica. The former, being a Hebrew-language encyclopedia, was certainly not “read by countless Jews all over the world.”

    This negates Alterman’s argument in two ways:

    1. Since Leibowitz was not editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia Judaica, one cannot employ this argument to claim that he was “read by countless Jews all over the world.”

    2. The fact that Alterman doesn’t really know who was (or were) behind the Encyclopedia Judaica also means that being the editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia Judaica does not automatically make you well-known to “Jews all over the world.”

    Point two:

    Blumenthal adds that he does not understand why I would concede that his book is “mostly technically accurate” but remain so critical. He is, apparently, unfamiliar with the concept of “context.” It might be technically accurate, for instance, to say that an individual who fatally shoots a crazed killer while said killer is mowing down schoolchildren with an assault-weapon is a “murderer.” But it would also be profoundly misleading, given the context.

    In this case, a technical application would refer to where technicality is most likely to be applied: in the court of law. “Murderer” is not the “technically accurate” term for the perpetrator of Alterman’s hypothetical scenario, since the technical application of the term “murder” presupposes malice aforethought. Yet Alterman’s example indicates lack of malice and presumably also lack of premeditation.

    The technically accurate term for the act committed may depend on jurisdiction, but if the subject of Alterman’s example were to be tried in court for “murder,” they could be acquitted on the grounds of “justifiable homicide,” or “self-defense” or “defense of others.” At the least, the mere lack of malice aforethought would limit charges to “involuntary manslaughter.” But given Alterman’s all-important context, a fair prosecutor should not even charge this individual to begin with.

    A “murderer” in the technical sense is one who has committed “murder.” The subject of Alterman’s scenario would not be found guilty of “murder.”

    In other words, Alterman’s example undermines his contention that “technical accuracy” does not account for context. In fact, his example proves that technical accuracy is wholly dependent on context.

    Yes, Alterman could retort that he was not referring to “murder” in the legal sense. But if that were the case, then Alterman’s application of the term “murderer” would be a casual or colloquial label—clearly making it less than “technically accurate”—and again undermining his argument.

    I do not necessarily disagree with Alterman that technical accuracy cannot account for all context. But here, Alterman clearly produced an example that countered his own argument.

    Point three:

    Blumenthal then goes on to object to the fact that I find his description of Berl Katznelson as “Labor Zionism’s chief ideologue” to be “a title that exists exclusively in the author’s imagination.” He writes that … Katznelson has been described in “almost identical fashion by everyone from Israeli President Shimon Peres to Israeli military historian Martin Van Creveld to Israeli writer Amos Oz.” Alas, “almost” is a big word here, (almost as big as “everyone”). If in fact the quotes are accurate, Blumenthal, who does not himself speak Hebrew (!) and whose source notes are almost entirely in English, is citing three Hebrew speakers.

    There is no doubt here that Alterman is deliberately attempting to mislead his readers.

    Alterman strongly implies that Blumenthal is referrring to sources in Hebrew. And according to Alterman, since Blumenthal does not speak Hebrew, he is therefore not qualified to cite from Hebrew.

    Alterman’s suggestion that the sources are in Hebrew is solely based on the fact that Peres, Van Creveld, and Oz all speak Hebrew. Alterman does not even allow for the fact that these three also speak English. If Alterman had bothered to check Blumenthal’s sources (and Blumenthal was citing an article of mine), he would find that all the sources were in English, not Hebrew.

    I had provided six sources, all of which were in English. (I could have provided more, but I thought six was enough. Apparently not for Alterman.) I cited Martin van Creveld’s The Land of Blood and Honey, which was written in English. I cited Shlomo Ben-Ami’s Scars of War, Wounds of Peace, a book published in English based on lectures that were given in English. I cited Shimon Peres in his Ben Gurion: A Political Life, which was published in English. I cited Oxford University professor Derek Penslar, who was writing in English. The Amos Oz book I cited was from Hebrew articles that were compiled and translated into English. I cited an article by Ansel Pfeffer in Haaretz English, but the original Hebrew version said the same thing:

    אולוג הראשי של המפלגה

    Yet Alterman dismisses all of these sources based on the false suggestion that they were in Hebrew—which would not have proven his case anyway.

    Alterman continues:

    None of them used the phrase Blumenthal did, which is a good thing, because, in English at least, which is the language in which Blumenthal seeks to communicate, it makes no sense. Any pronouncement that unironically employs the term “chief ideologue” with regard to a non-hierarchical political philosophical movement is by definition foolishly reductive and literally false.

    Alterman is absolutely wrong. Derek Penslar used the exact same phrase—“chief ideologue.” So did Anshel Pfeffer in the English version of his article. Martin van Creveld wrote “ideologue in chief,” which is basically the same thing. The others cited expressed the same sentiment as Blumenthal: “principle ideologue,” “main ideologue,” etc.

    The facts were laid out for Alterman, in plain English, one-to-two hyperlink clicks away. Yet Alterman deliberately pretended not to notice them, instead stating, “If in fact the quotes are accurate,” as if he was unable to see them—and therefore absolving him of the responsibility to acknowledge or contest them.

    In other words, Alterman’s response to Blumenthal’s argument and mine was to stick his fingers in his ears, and say, “No it isn’t! Nyah, nyah, I’m not listening!”

  14. MahaneYehude1 on November 3, 2013, 6:26 am


    אולוג הראשי של המפלגה

    You cut the first word in the middle and wrote “chief ologue” instead of ” “chief ideologue”. here is the correction:

    האידיאולוג הראשי של המפלגה

    • Phan Nguyen on November 3, 2013, 4:35 pm

      Thanks for the correction!

      I was trying to copy and paste from the Hebrew text without my computer flipping the order to left-to-right. In the process of reassembling the words, I got tripped up by the hyphen that appeared in the original and lost ha-idi—. I should have caught that.

  15. Ecru on November 3, 2013, 7:10 am

    Just looking at the reviews on Amazon proved an interesting exercise. Of the 54 one star reviews* only 19 were by people who had reviewed anything previously. Most of these other reviews, where books had been reviewed at all, showed a distinct bias to pro-Zionist publications (5 stars for Time Immemorial!?) and a bias against anything showing the Palestinian side of things (plenty of other 1 star reviews and “Made Up People” comments). One review was actually submitted BEFORE the publication of the book!

    Mr Blumenthal certainly seems to have hit a nerve with this work which makes me think he’s struck on a truth people don’t want the world to know. Which is after all what reporting is supposed to be about.

    * I didn’t include the person known as “Kitchen Wizard” in this number as their rants pretending to be reviews aren’t worth the paper they’re not printed on.

  16. bilal a on November 3, 2013, 9:50 am

    An alleged Israeli-Russian Oligarch tied to organized crime is co chairing a senior political effort to increase EU spying on ‘intolerant’ citizens, including those who are ‘anti-Israel’ Implications for MW and Max B ?

    Former heads of state gather in Rome, encourage EU to spy on ‘intolerant’ citizens
    European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR)

    The tolerance watchdog group wants “special administrative units” to monitor citizens of all 27 EU member states if they are determined to be “intolerant.” Specifics are included in a report titled the “Framework National Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance.”

    Who should oversee the surveillance would have to be worked out among participating nations, but ECTR suggested “The Ministry of Justice.”

    “There is no need to be tolerant to the intolerant,” the group’s report stated.

    “There are disturbing signs that the increase in… anti-Israel expressions … are more than ever being translated into violent acts, the report notes”

    Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor Since 2007 – President of the European Jewish Congress (EJC), Since 2008 – co-Chairman of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR),

    Allegations of Israeli citizenship and ties to organized crime

  17. Ira Glunts on November 3, 2013, 1:13 pm

    Here is a positive review of Goliath in The New York Observer. The writer uses praise of the book to set up criticism of Blumenthal’s view of Islamic groups and governments which, as she states, is not part of the book.

    I liked the way the reviewer used her recent visit to Israel to verify Blumenthal’s conclusions. However, I think the weight given to criticizing Max’s views of Islamic governments is given an unjustified amount of space. Maybe it’s a protection against attacks for liking Goliath?

    I did notice in a recent interview that Max presented what I thought was an unreasonably uncritical view of the Morsi government.

    I think the review is worth reading and discussing.

    • Ellen on November 3, 2013, 6:25 pm

      The review has mixed messages and concludes with an inane call for an excercise in “whataboutery.”

      Unless writers like Mr. Blumenthal are willing to take on those Islamists as well, those who stand to benefit most from an intelligent critique of Israel won’t likely listen.

      Blumenthal’s book is not about extreme Islamists. It is about the (inevitable) and destructive turn the anachronism of ZIonism has taken. Besides there is already a vast industry of instant experts taking on the subject of radical Islam.

      So conclusion is that those who should really care will not listen. We know that already and isn’t that the typical tragedy, or hubris, leading to a fall?

    • piotr on November 3, 2013, 10:21 pm

      Indeed, interesting. Nina approvingly reviews “Goliath” and then proceeds with her own ox to gore, namely “Islamists”. Personally, I have some experience with Egyptian Islamists as somewhat disagreable roommates during my student years, but clearly I live to tell the tale, and they are not qualitatively inferior from Catholic Polish zealots (one of highschool friends), Jewish nationalists and so on.

      The fact that “jihadists in Mogadishu” could murder Max for the mere fact of being Jewish American (a bit debatable, but their actual choice of victims is not that much better, middle class shoppers in Kenia) does not mean that their co-religionists in the leadership of Muslim Brotherhood are similar — Morsi himself was a grad student in USA and refrained from attacking American Jewish students. Unlike a patriotic Azeri officer send to NATO language school who was placed in the same dorm as an officer from Armenia and chopped his head off.

      Secular nationalists can be quite murderous but it does not mean that all of them are. We know how to make distinctions. “Islamists” come in different varieties as well. The question is if we promote the paradigm “I win, I kill, you loose you die” or “I win, you may win later if I screw up”. Nina apparently supports the former if the correct people win.

      • RoHa on November 3, 2013, 10:37 pm

        “clearly I live to tell the tale”

        Evidence, please.

    • Rusty Pipes on November 4, 2013, 2:39 pm

      The first third of the Observer piece is a review of Blumenthal’s book. The other 2/3 is a critique of what is not in his book, based on his tweets and articles on Islamophobia:

      Supporters of Israel should be encouraged to read this book. It’s a journalist’s view of the country, and, if it seems one-sided, it balances the sanitized tour the Israeli government offers gratis to young American Jews. As Israel’s greatest supporters, American Jews who care at all about the future of the country need to understand what’s happening within the borders.

      But Mr. Alterman is right on one thing: Mr. Blumenthal is naive about the Islamists. Based on his tweets and articles on Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood, he has staked out a spot on the Venn diagram of Middle East commentators where anti-Israel meets pro-Islamist. He wants to believe theocrats are an improvement over brutal dictators.


      I can’t find anything in Mr. Blumenthal’s reporting or commentary to indicate he is much troubled by rebels who dream of the once and future caliphate and imposing Shariah law.

      In 2010, Mr. Blumenthal penned a long article for The Nation headlined “The Great Islamophobic Crusade” about the “cabal” he said is behind surging American Islamophobia. He profiled the usual suspects—neocons Daniel Pipes, David Horowitz and the cartoonish Pamela Geller (who happens to be the former publisher of The New York Observer.) In the same piece, Mr. Blumenthal sympathized with the problems the men behind the Islamic Society of Boston were having building their center. (They have since completed it.) …

      I think that Blumenthal’s views on Islamophobia, American politics, the Arab Spring and a host of other topics are worth discussing. But, based on what I’ve read so far in his book, Goliath, these have little relevance to the everyday realities of Apartheid he chronicles within Israel “proper.” The author of the review is trying to diminish Blumenthal’s authority to speak on the abuses within Israel if he doesn’t address all abuses committed by Muslims first.

  18. piotr on November 3, 2013, 2:26 pm

    The book Goliath is a bit long so I am not sure what are the “anti-Israeli” prescriptions of Max, if any.

    I think that it is interesting that the criticism of Goliath comes from liberal Zionists. Not-so-liberal Zionists (or their friends) would not dignify this book with any kind of review beyond a disparaging Twit. The tenor of the criticism reminds me my education in 70-ties in Communist Poland. You see, every benevolent regime welcomes criticism, and some people can actually make a living with reputations of such critics. And some critics are blacklisted — it is a bit vague to describe what happens to you while blacklisted, in a nutshell, any time you get a job or you cross the border you can count yourself lucky as this does not happen too often. And the difference between the two is simple.

    The good type of criticism is constructive, so even if misguided in some details it aims to strengthen the state an the Communist system that we all love and cherish. The bad type of criticism is destructive, “sawing the branch upon which we all sit”. Max is as destructive as they go, to such a degree that one can wonder: why the three critiques, Alterman, Goldberg and Pfeffer did not dispute his selection of context, even while alluding that the book lacks the proper context. However, after reading the first 70 pages my impression is that Max is a fanatic of context. He cannot write a sentence without a context.

    Thus the chapter about dehumanizing and discriminatory “security procedures” at Lod airport starts with context. The massacre in Lydda, later cleansed from almost all prior inhabitants and renamed Lod. This massacre itself is put in context, the commands given by Ben-Gurion. In the same time, Max neglects the correct context, like an incident when an Irish girl was duped to pack explosives by her Jordanian (Palestinian?) fiancee. Quite relentlessly, Max puts the Lydda-Ramle massacre in context too. Putting the fact and context together in the manner of Max is so horrible that the critics have to resolve to rather oblique indications how bad it is.

    Many though crimes are relatively easy to described without imparting trauma upon the readers, e.g. obsenity, snuff porn, ultra liberalism. But the misuse of context belongs to the dark arts that should not only be forbidden but the very knowledge should be forbidden as well.

    For example, whatever Israel is doing, we should be aware of the context of a wave of suicide bombings. Providing the context for that context, like the start of the second Intifada when hundreds of unarmed protesters were gunned down by IDF, and the context (reason) of those protests can be done here, as the readers of “Mondostorm” long their innocence already, but hardly in publications open to innocent public.

    • mcohen on November 4, 2013, 2:23 am


      The context of the context started before the contest to see who could reach back in time and find a reason for the present day context
      For me a good place to start would be building a mosque on the ruins of a hebrew temple
      That context of conquer and squat is universal and open to change

  19. joer on November 3, 2013, 6:35 pm

    It bugs me the way Goldberg positions himself as some kind of Bohemian intellectual in the Forward with his cheap suits, sporting a goatee in his column picture, essays on popular music, and the inclusion in his biography that he once drove a cab in New York-as if it gives him “street cred.” But for all his intellectual pretensions, he never questions Zionism-and ridicules and belittles anyone who does. He sort of reminds me of a Jewish intellectual version of a Christian Heavy Metal band-an imitation of his opposite in order to trick people into following an ideology.

    And I find it distasteful that during his youthful search for himself he moved across the world to become a sniper, shooting at the native population. The whole image brings to mind the 19th Century European colonialists who shot Africans for sport. I guess that is why he is afraid to really address Zionism-because in all liklihood, he has crossed the moral Rubicon in his role as sniper, and killed a man to serve his ideology.

  20. Ira Glunts on November 4, 2013, 10:42 am

    Chris Hedges has written a long review praising Blumenthal and Goliath.

    “There are very few intellectuals or writers who have the tenacity and courage to confront this [Israeli] reality. This is what makes Max Blumenthal’s “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel” one of the most fearless and honest books ever written about Israel. ”

    • Ira Glunts on November 4, 2013, 2:37 pm

      Common Dreams usually republishes posts by Hedges on the day it is posted, but this one did not appear today. They did publish a post from Blumenthal which was taken from Goliath. I wrote the editor about it, but have not got a reply.

    • Rusty Pipes on November 4, 2013, 3:30 pm

      Unfortunately, the NYT is unlikely to carry this excellent review of Goliath by Hedges, its former Jerusalem bureau chief.

      • Ira Glunts on November 4, 2013, 3:36 pm

        Yes, that is unfortunate. However, I was happy to see that Common Dreams did republish the review.

        It wasn’t that long ago that even a liberal Zionist critique of Israel was difficult to find on Common Dreams.

  21. Ludwig on November 4, 2013, 11:45 am

    “the wall must come down” Will the murder and suicide attack attempts stop if the wall comes down? If not, it’s staying up.

  22. Rudolph on November 4, 2013, 3:02 pm

    One would think that the documentary, The Gatekeepers, pretty much settled that Israel is the myopic, brutal power. To remind readers, in the 2012 documentary six former heads of Israel’s domestic counterterrorism agency (Shin Bet) – Avraham Shalom, Yaakov Peri, Carmi Gillon, Ami Avalon, Avi Dichter and Yuval Diskin – “speak publicly for the first time about their work combating violence from both Palestinians and Israelis….Interestingly enough, these six men…share a belief that a Palestinian state should have been a priority [and show] disdain for Israeli politicians for not doing more to make it happen.” According to Peri, “When you retire, you become a bit of a leftist.” “Not all terrorists, the gatekeepers take pains to point out, are Palestinian.”

  23. lysias on November 5, 2013, 3:01 pm

    I suspect you can get the titles of the chapters without having to get the book by looking at the free Kindle sample. I wonder if that is what Goldberg did.

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