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What Max Blumenthal saw in Gaza

Israel/Palestine
on 47 Comments

The other night I saw Max Blumenthal for the first time since his reporting trip to Gaza. We were eating at a noisy restaurant with friends and watching football, but he said three things that echo:

1. Everywhere he went people would invite him into their homes, which were sometimes mere concrete slabs or basements open to the sun because the house was gone, and then it was: Please have some coffee. That room is where my two girls and my mother were killed. You must drink some soda, it is very hot today. Over there, that is my brother’s house. He lost his wife and auntie and his son. Here are some sweets, you must take some. Please, my friend– In that house there was a family of five, only one survived, she lost her legs. Excuse me– young man, bring our guests some water. Here–

2. Max had the presence of mind to smuggle several shampoo bottles filled with Scotch into Gaza from Israel. This made him popular. At night, several friends were overjoyed to learn of his clever trick, and took care to strain the liquor through paper towels to get rid of the soap residue. They said they hadn’t had a drink in months.

3. Max was filled with despair. Not that I had a hopeful view of the outcome before this, he said. But when you see the destruction, the utter scale and the breadth of it, and all the families destroyed, just wiped out, it’s mindboggling. Then you see that the world does nothing. It’s goes on as if nothing happened. It’s completely soulless, and it fills me with despair that there will ever be a just resolution.

(Brief commentary: 1. Reminds me of my own experience in Gaza and the West Bank, the dignity of people who are experiencing tremendous abuse; so when I want to walk away from this issue, I think of the generosity of those people to me. 2, Reminds me of all the bollocks you hear about the clash of cultures. At some level everyone is the same. And educated seculars always find one another. 3, Max is famously hardboiled and dark. The pity/terror in his voice as he described his own despair– everyone at the table looked down. Seeing this account, Max adds: “People in the US struggle to see Gaza as anything but a war zone filled with victims. They’re just cool people struggling with impossible circumstances.”)

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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47 Responses

  1. amigo
    September 23, 2014, 2:42 pm

    How in heavens name did that anti semite, self hating Israel delegitimiser get into Gaza and keep his head intact , given all those Hamas (ISIS) folks running the place.

    However , thanks for doing it and giving us this very emotive report.

    Being amongst those wonderful and resolute people must have been so re affirming .

    Makes my efforts , typing away on my laptop feel so minuscule (rightfully so).

  2. Shmuel
    September 23, 2014, 2:58 pm

    Max was filled with despair. Not that I had a hopeful view of the outcome before this, he said. But when you see the destruction, the utter scale and the breadth of it, and all the families destroyed, just wiped out, it’s mindboggling. Then you see that the world does nothing. It’s goes on as if nothing happened.

    And people think (those who think about it at all), “Hey, it’s over. There’s a ceasefire.” And individuals afraid of “taking sides” insist that aid must be collected for Israelis (I kid you not) as well as Palestinians, or not at all.

  3. Joe Catron
    September 23, 2014, 3:00 pm

    Tonight I was reminded of Max – and Dan Cohen, Jesse Rosenfeld, etc. – by this display of mind-numbing stupidity at the Daily Beast:

    “The reason IMC was less than thrilled about sending Kawalek into Gaza was his middle name, Zvi. Hebrew for ‘deer,’ it couldn’t be more Jewish if it were served on a toasted bagel with a side of lox. There was no way he was getting into Gaza with a name like that in his passport. He’d have a better chance getting hit by lightning twice on a sunny day.”

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/09/22/a-gay-jewish-zionist-american-doctor-in-gaza-and-what-he-saw.html

    You’d think Beast editors would have some kind of a clue, since Jesse, like, WRITES FOR THEM, FROM GAZA. But apparently that’s not enough?

    • Donald
      September 23, 2014, 3:06 pm

      “by this display of mind-numbing stupidity at the Daily Beast:”

      I thought of that too. The depressing thing is that the article was presented as one critical of Israel, yet it still contributed to this picture of Gaza as a place where a Jew would be killed on sight.

      There was also a story in a very local paper where I live about some kid (high school or college–I forget) who visited the West Bank during the Gaza slaughter and how she learned from her experience, but was scared about the possibility someone would find out she was Jewish. The impression given was that the instant that was known her life wouldn’t be worth a cent.

  4. seafoid
    September 23, 2014, 3:05 pm

    “And educated seculars always find one another”

    Don’t even have to be educated. Humanity always finds connections. It could be the light in a curious child’s eyes or the smile of an old guy smoking shisha.

    I think Gaza is the graveyard of a certain version of Judaism, the currently dominant version.
    What really protruded from all of the words written about Gaza this summer was how isolated Jews in denial actually are. The longer the carnage went on, the fewer supporters they had. And they couldn’t fight it. They couldn’t do anything.
    Oren couldn’t cheer them up , Dersh was useless, Shmuley looked like the asshole he really is.

    And they just don’t get it

    http://www.haaretz.com/misc/iphone-article/.premium-1.612950
    “The aggressive criticism in Europe of Israeli policy is neither anti-Semitism, nor is it a natural political reaction of people of conscience and sound morality. It is mainly a platform for people who are a good deal more interested in showing themselves than they are in showing the evils of the occupation. ”

    Military reporter for awful Israel HaYom poses for grinning photo in front of bombed Gaza mosque (via @BarakRavid): pic.twitter.com/0CeAyoYQuV

    Chemi Shalev @ChemiShalev • 6h
    Death toll of 10 soldiers in less than a day bound to cast dark cloud over Israelis’ morning; most were not prepared for such a price

    MJ (Mike) Rosenberg @MJayRosenberg • 3h
    J Street supported Gaza war. It doesn’t deserve to exist. http://wp.me/p3JVyK-g via

    http://www.haaretz.com/life/music-theater/.premium-1.607484
    “Where are the rock stars expressing solidarity with Israel’s right to defend itself or pausing between songs to explain that every day is harrowing for Israeli civilians who are attacked by rockets and threatened by terror tunnels leading to their homes, playgrounds and streets? ”

    Israel is descending into madness like Japan did in the 1930s. It must be all trauma driven.
    The pathology of Zionism. Another argument against the establishment of Israel- they should have been treated for Holocaust trauma before sending them anywhere.

    • EliStern
      September 23, 2014, 5:11 pm

      Why do you revisionist progressives always act like the Jewish State and the vast majority of the Jewish diaspora is unJewish?

      Maybe you guys can help explain what “real” Judaism/Jewish culture is. I’m sure you secular types are experts on Judaism and Jewish culture.

      • Mooser
        September 23, 2014, 6:16 pm

        “Maybe you guys can help explain what “real” Judaism/Jewish culture is. I’m sure you secular types are experts on Judaism and Jewish culture.”

        LISTEN FOOL: Max and Phil aren’t the ones giving out identity cards with “Jewish” on them. That’s Israel. They think they know in Israel what a Jew is, go ask them.

        Eli, you are another one who paints himself into a corner by filling his brush from the Porta-Potty.

      • RoHa
        September 23, 2014, 8:25 pm

        Gee, Mooser.

        Eli hints that racial supremacy, ethnic cleansing, slaughter of children, land theft, destruction of milk processing plants, anonymous sex in night club toilets, and continual lying are major elements of Judaism and Jewish culture.

        You hint otherwise.

        What is a poor old Gentile to believe?

        At this stage, I’m sticking with the best jokes, but you better come up with some good ones to prove your point.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 23, 2014, 11:26 pm

        Maybe you guys can help explain what “real” Judaism/Jewish culture is.

        hmm, maybe you should take a stab at it. try explaining that trophy grin on the iof reporter up there through your own eyes. or explain to us how she thinks her readers might relate, culturally that is.

      • seafoid
        September 24, 2014, 3:27 am

        Try Lev 19:34

  5. just
    September 23, 2014, 3:17 pm

    “Don’t even have to be educated. Humanity always finds connections. It could be the light in a curious child’s eyes or the smile of an old guy smoking shisha.”

    Well and beautifully said, seafoid.

    “I think Gaza is the graveyard of a certain version of Judaism, the currently dominant version.”

    It certainly is the graveyard of Israel’s ‘humanity’. They’ve spent decades losing it. It’s why the Russell Tribunal on Israeli Genocide is so important. Max is on the witness list, thank goodness.

    http://mondoweiss.net/2014/09/palestine-delegitmisation-courtroom

  6. Philip Munger
    September 23, 2014, 3:49 pm

    They’re just cool people struggling with impossible circumstances.

    from Rachel Corrie’s Gaza diary:

    Feel sick to my stomach a lot from being doted on all the time, very sweetly, by people who are facing doom.

    I think that I should at least mention that I am also discovering a degree of strength and of basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances.

    I think the word is dignity.

    I wish you could meet these people. Maybe, hopefully, someday you will.

  7. a blah chick
    September 23, 2014, 4:49 pm

    “..every day is harrowing for Israeli civilians who are attacked by rockets and threatened by terror tunnels leading to their homes, playgrounds and streets… ” You forgot to mention the self-genocide.

    These people are delusional.

  8. American
    September 23, 2014, 6:28 pm

    ” At some level everyone is the same. ‘>>>>

    Well fortunately or unfortunately everyone is not alike– at least not all the time. And any people can be better or worse than others—at least some of the time. That’s the real pity of just about everything in the world. Humans don’t seem to ever learn. Or they don’t all ever learn the lesson of their pasts at the same time.

    • ivri
      September 24, 2014, 11:41 am

      @American
      Hey that`s good – I like the philosophy., Also for a change I see no Israel-trashing here (or may be missed something?). Judaism, as its twin sister Christianity, always keeps open the way back path (absolution in the Catholic segment). So let`s see…

      • American
        September 24, 2014, 9:12 pm

        ivri
        September 24, 2014, 11:41 am

        Just simple observation of humankind my dear Watson…said Sherlock.

      • Citizen
        September 25, 2014, 11:15 am

        Wonder what American thinks, in this, his context, of the chosen “light to the world”? I don’t see any Arab states claiming constantly to be democratic.

      • American
        October 6, 2014, 9:12 am

        Citizen
        September 25, 2014, 11:15 am

        Wonder what American thinks, in this, his context, of the chosen “light to the world”? I don’t see any Arab states claiming constantly to be democratic
        >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

        I dont think there are any ‘Chosen’.
        And who the hell would want to worship a God that plays favorites?
        Probably only the narcissist favorites and the mentally defective who latch onto something that isnt explainable and doesnt require them to have a functioning brain.
        Thats why all the religious babble makes my brain freeze.
        ‘Speaking for God’ is the easiest con game on earth cause God isnt going to give an interview on the msm to denounce their babble.

  9. Bumblebye
    September 23, 2014, 7:14 pm

    Not forgotten everywhere or by everyone.
    Grahame Morris MP has secured a SIX HOUR debate in the UK Parliament on October 13!
    http://www.leftfutures.org/2014/09/the-state-of-palestine

    (My computer died, so I’m using a tablet – and I’m a befuddled / confused novice on the darn thing! Bring back EDIT! Hope the link works.)

    • Bumblebye
      September 23, 2014, 7:19 pm

      Oh, rude words! I can see it won’t!
      Is Annie the Fixer of Links in the house? Pretty please?

      • just
        September 23, 2014, 7:45 pm

        I think this is what you wanted Bumblebye:

        http://www.leftfutures.org/2014/09/the-state-of-palestine/

        good news indeed!

        Nice to see you btw!!!

      • Bumblebye
        September 23, 2014, 8:10 pm

        I have been ‘lurking’! While I try to get to grips with this blasted gadget. The horrible slowness of one finger typing when I’m used to all ten!
        Thank you, just.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 23, 2014, 11:46 pm

        ha! i should have scrolled! i see just got it for you. great article too bunblebye

    • RoHa
      September 23, 2014, 8:00 pm

      Tablets are handy for reading on, but writing on them leads posts full of yptos.

      • Mooser
        September 24, 2014, 2:11 pm

        Try typing with split hooves sometime. I can ‘hunt’ but it’s hard to ‘peck’.

      • Citizen
        September 24, 2014, 2:12 pm

        @ Mooser
        Just use your antler tips on that keyboard.

  10. RoHa
    September 23, 2014, 8:03 pm

    Right.

    Stop this now.

    Can’t have people thinking Palestinians are just ordinary humans like the rest of us.

  11. Gene Shae
    September 23, 2014, 10:51 pm

    That must have been some dinner conversation

  12. talknic
    September 24, 2014, 4:20 am

    I thought Hasbaristas were below par …. there goes one method of smuggling scotch and taking shampoo into Gaza.

    You have to be crazy to tell anyone what or how you do anything in an article.

  13. bilal a
    September 24, 2014, 6:41 am

    Was this legal espionage?

    “Nitsana Darshan Leitner, a lawyer for one of the plaintiffs in the case, told the New York Observer that she wanted Cantor’s testimony because he had in 2013 discussed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Israel’s refusal to allow a former Israeli intelligence official to testify in the case.

    Uzi Shaya, the former intelligence official, according to reports alerted Chinese security officials in 2005 to suspicious transactions, including transfers of money to terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. ”
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.617383

  14. jon s
    September 24, 2014, 6:47 am

    Max Blumenthal smuggled liquor into Gaza?! What an exceedingly dumb and irresponsible thing to do…

    • eljay
      September 24, 2014, 8:37 am

      >> M.B.: Then you see that the world does nothing. It’s goes on as if nothing happened. It’s completely soulless …

      Yes, yes it is:

      jon s September 24, 2014, 6:47 am
      Max Blumenthal smuggled liquor into Gaza?! What an exceedingly dumb and irresponsible thing to do…

      Any moment now, hophmeee will chime in and talk about how bad things are in Saudi Arabia, Mali and African “hell-holes”.

      • eljay
        September 24, 2014, 8:44 am

        Donations made to PCRF and MSF.

    • Donald
      September 24, 2014, 12:34 pm

      “What an exceedingly dumb and irresponsible thing to do…and then talked about it…wrote about it.”

      I can’t tell if you’re joking or outraged and if the latter, what the outrage is directed at. Someone else pointed out that Max shouldn’t have revealed his method.

    • Mooser
      September 24, 2014, 2:14 pm

      “Max Blumenthal smuggled liquor into Gaza?! What an exceedingly dumb and irresponsible thing to do…”

      Oh, how nice, the WCTU is here and Carrie Jewish Nation her own self is wielding the hatchet!! Whatsamatter, “jon s” you don’t think Gazans should have a drink after wht they been through.

      Oh let me guess, you are looking out for their health, demon rum, all that.

  15. jon s
    September 24, 2014, 6:49 am

    …and then talked about it… wrote about it…

    • Mooser
      September 24, 2014, 2:16 pm

      “…and then talked about it… wrote about it…”

      And didn’t even ask your permission, did he?

      Well, “jon s” what can you do with a renegade self-hater like that? Got any plans for ol’ Max?

      • jon s
        September 28, 2014, 2:05 am

        Actually, I was thinking primarily of Max’s Gazan friends and the loads of trouble he could have been getting them into. As I said, not only the smuggling itself, but subsequently blabbing about it. Irresponsible and just plain dumb.

  16. Citizen
    September 24, 2014, 10:26 am

    Thanks for this further insight into the Palestinian character and culture. We get the total contrary view from our mainstream media of course. Rachel Corrie’s wish is mine, and it still seems very unlikely to come true. How many Americans ever heard of Rachel Corrie, let alone the hospitality of Palestinians even under great duress? Now, how many have heard of Anne Frank and the conflation of HAMAS with ISIS?

  17. Dan Crowther
    September 24, 2014, 2:25 pm

    Max!!!

    • bintbiba
      September 24, 2014, 6:29 pm

      Watched and heard Max speak at the Russell Tribunal today ! He was /is mesmerising . Passion and sincerity mixed with anger and (so handsome,too). He is a great public speaker .

      • just
        September 24, 2014, 6:33 pm

        He was Max, exactly as you describe bintbiba.

        ;))

  18. concernedhuman
    September 24, 2014, 4:49 pm

    This scale of destruction is no less than what IS is causing but any ways Israel has got the license from the west to do, but IS NOT?!!

  19. concernedhuman
    September 24, 2014, 4:50 pm

    Thank you max for being their and telling the world how israel has reshaped gaza !!

  20. Kathleen
    September 25, 2014, 10:37 am

    PW “Max was filled with despair” And Phil you have also described being filled with despair when you have witnessed what has been going on for decades for the Palestinians. I have always wondered why some need to see horrific crimes committed against others up close. As a young person reading endless books about WWII I did not need to go to holocaust museums or to the towns where millions of Jews and millions of others were murdered in mass by the Nazi regime to feel deep anguish and outrage about what had taken place. Reading about the Nuremberg trials and how some were held accountable for those horrific crimes… we all celebrate that there was some accountability. Having read UN and other human rights accounts, having heard eyewitness accounts about the decades long crimes that have taken place and been given cover by U.S. officials often under pressure from the I lobby…I have never felt the need to see the crimes in person to feel outrage and actively respond. Can also imagine that some individuals have been encouraged within their cultural, ethnic and religious environments to willfully ignore what has been going on for decades. So important for some to see these crimes up close.

    The humanity that Palestinians exhibit given their deadly and oppressive circumstances is amazing. Have heard these kinds of stories from others who have witnessed their situations up close. One large Palestinian march I attended in D.C. over 12 or so years ago (could be longer) I focused on talking to older Palestinians (70’s, 80’s) and heard one Nakba story after the next. Was simply amazed by the matter of fact way that they told their stories about being forced from their homes and villages, relatives brutally murdered killed by Haganah/Irgun. They wanted others to hear their stories. These individuals did not exhibit vicious anger, just deep sadness and pain in their eyes Was as mesmerized by their stories as I have been talking with Holocaust survivors. How people can still walk, talk after such unbelievably terrible things have happened to them and their families is a mystery for me. Just hearing their stories makes me go into a kind of numb shock.

    Many Palestinians are strong and resolute as many Holocaust survivors are. They want the world to hear what has gone on. For the Palestinians these crimes against humanity continue. So wonderful and important that over the last 10 or so years both you and Max have started to speak out and witness Israel’s crimes that have been committed over the last six decades (although illegal confiscation of Palestinian lands had been going on since the late 1800’s). A huge and important addition…. helping people wake up!

    Netanyahu meeting with Obama in D.C. next week. Will you guys be protesting?

    • jon s
      September 28, 2014, 2:12 am

      Please explain how “illegal confiscation of Palestinian lands had been going on since the late 1800’s”. Under the Ottoman Empire??

  21. Kathleen
    September 25, 2014, 10:55 am

    Saw and interesting symbol on a commercial the other day. Was a wounded warrior fund ad put up by Wells Fargo. They had injured Vets skiing with prosthetic limbs etc. One of the Vets talking had a Palestinian Keffiyeh (ski jacket on) around his neck as they asked him about his injuries and recovery. Was taken back by this.

    During Obama’s speech at the UN the other day he said that the Israel Palestine conflict has been used as an excuse to distract from problems in other middle east countries. He lectured and tried to undermine looking at this issue as a reason for the anger that many people in that part of the world feel towards the U.S. That somehow the double standards that the U.S. and Israel continually practice by calling out other nations in regard to “territorial integrity” or “international law” while Israel and the U.S. have continually ignored these standards do not matter. Obama continues to be a bit of a weak kneed puke when it comes to standing up to Israel’s continual expansion of illegal settlements etc

    Later during the UN Security Council meeting chaired by Obama King Abdullah of Jordan brought up the Israel Palestinian conflict and strongly inferred that the double standards that are constantly applied by other nations to the middle east do indeed make people angry and need to be resolved asap. That the killing of Palestinians by Israel are as critical when talking about human rights as the U.S. now conveniently seems to be about Syrians etc

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