In the last few days, as events in Israel and Palestine have turned so grim and full of suffering, the ideological battle between liberal Zionists and anti-Zionists has sharpened. For instance, MJ Rosenberg tweeted that this website is just rich Jews who don’t face any threat to their lives, as Israelis do; Bradley Burston published a column in Haaretz accusing this site of “kidnap denial” because of a comment in our comment section; and that column was affirmed by Jeffrey Goldberg, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo and Ruth Marks Eglash of the Washington Post. These attacks also include Peter Beinart writing a column about the American Jewish debate over Israel that simply denies the existence of Jewish Voice for Peace— covering his eyes to will away non- and anti-Zionist Jews.
Well, back at you! Here’s an interview I did with Max Blumenthal in West Jerusalem last September near where he made the video “Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem.” I asked him about criticisms that he had distorted the character of Israeli society in that video, and Blumenthal said the opposite was the case: he had captured a rising strain in that society. He said that racism is rampant inside Israeli discourse and that the lynching of a Palestinian near where we stood was straight out of Alabama in the 1940s. But conditions of naked apartheid are denied by a “coterie of liberal Zionists” in the United States because their Jewish identity is predicated on the existence of a “dreamcastle Israel” and so they forever maintain the belief that the “good Israel” will somehow come to the fore. When that battle has been lost.
Blumenthal then says that the liberal Zionists’ denial of the Palestinian experience heightens the danger of violence to everyone in Israel/Palestine because it allows those conditions to thrive to the point that out-and-out racists have become ministers in the Israeli government. Blumenthal is abusive of the liberal Zionist writers, saying they should all go on a cruise and never come back.
Blumenthal expressed these views 10 months ago, but they obviously apply to events in Israel today when murderous racism is being openly encouraged, as Jewish Voice for Peace noted in distributing the image below in urging Americans to recognize that the occupation is at the root of the conflict. And again I’d point to Peter Beinart’s column saying, “U.S. Jews must save their people’s honor, which Israel is putting at stake,” in which he says not a word about such attitudes, or about the pogroms taking place right this minute on the West Bank.