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‘New York Review of Books’ offers Israel as a model to US on targeted killings and detention for terrorists

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The New York Review of Books has not yet reviewed Max Blumenthal’s definitive new book on Gaza of last summer, The 51-Day War. Just as The New York Times is yet to profile Blumenthal and ask him about his journey from Birthright to anti-Zionism, and Terry Gross has not yet had Blumenthal on her powerful NPR radio program to detail the roots of Palestinian resistance.

Here’s something the New York Review of Books is covering, though– “The New America: Little Privacy, Big Terror,” a review of books about international law and extrajudicial killings by David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University. And Cole includes a big advertisement for Israel as the most moral military in the world. He writes of Owen Fiss’s book, War Like No Other: The Constitution in a Time of Terror:

Fiss cites as a model the judgments of Aharon Barak, who as chief justice of the Israeli Supreme Court insisted that the law, and the court, had a central part to play in reviewing all aspects of Israel’s response to terror. Barak wrote landmark decisions limiting Israel’s detention policies, forbidding torture, requiring relocation of parts of the wall separating Israel from the West Bank, and insisting on strict limits and judicial accountability for targeted killing. He did so, moreover, in a country that faces the threat of terrorism on a much more frequent and intimate basis than does the U.S.

Fiss is right to demand more from our courts… Why, if the Israeli Supreme Court can review Israel’s every targeted killing after the fact to ensure that it conforms to the limits of law…. etc.

Anyone who makes these sorts of statements ought to consider that the wall does not separate Israel from the West Bank– its path goes through the West Bank– and that a Palestinian lawyer, Mohammed Allan, held a 60-day hunger strike to the door of death to protest a policy of detention in which suspects are held for months on end without charges. Countless children have also been detained without charges; UNICEF prepared a report on this ongoing travesty. And accountability for targeted killings? Breaking the Silence lately documented numerous killings in Gaza for which there has been no accountability at all, including the murder of two women in an orchard at long distance because one had gotten out a cell phone.

Anyone who accepts these assertions ought to read Max Blumenthal’s chapter on the execution of Salem Shamaly, a 23-year-old accounting student famously killed while he was walking back into the bombed-out neighborhood of Shujaiyah on July 20, 2014, to look for members of his family. Shamaly wore jeans and a t-shirt and was obviously unarmed. He was trailed by international volunteers. They were not killed; he was shot by a sniper.

Blumenthal details the devastation of such wanton destruction. A cousin of Shamaly’s who has lost his home tells him:

“The real problem is not just losing your home in the bombardment. The problem is you have lost your future, you lose your hope, and you can even lose your mind. Two million people here on the verge of losing their minds.”

One person on the verge is Shamaly’s younger brother Waseem, 14. He shakes with grief as he tells Blumenthal about how much he loved his older brother. Blumenthal relates:

“I… asked [Waseem] what he wanted to be when he came of age. He replied without pause that he planned to join the resistance. A look of intent had replaced his desolation.

Waseem told me that he had not considered becoming a fighter until the war came down on Shujaiya.”

The war on terror won’t end until Americans absorb the lessons in Blumenthal’s book, that dispossession, exile and brutalization engender violent resistance by Palestinians. Our boys and girls would form the same ambition as Waseem if their families went through what the Shamalys have gone through. The New York Review of Books describes Palestinian resistance as “frequent and intimate” terror, seeing it entirely from Israel’s point of view. Our leading intellectual journal should be a lot better than that.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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17 Responses

  1. Krauss on August 21, 2015, 12:21 pm

    I consider the NYRB a part of the Israel lobby. Certainly not as militant as the NYT in recent years, but it’s up there. Oh, and explain to me again how all of this is because of Christian Evangelicals.

    I’m sure the editors all have a direct phone line to Pastor Hagee on their desks.

    • philweiss on August 21, 2015, 12:30 pm

      I agree. I believe it is utterly sincere on their part but under-examined/generational. To their immense credit, they published Tony Judt in 2003, but then failed to bolster his work at all in the years that followed, and even sought to revise it lately, or Jonathan Freedland did, it was Judt’s whiskey talking!

      • annie on August 21, 2015, 12:45 pm

        hi everyone. i thought i would tag onto a place near to top of the thread to get everyones attention.

        alert: Mondoweiss in the process of switching servers today so we will be suspending publishing after 2 pm Eastern time. This will be at least for the rest of the day and maybe for the weekend. This will also mean no comments after 2 pm.

        i’m do my best to clearing the ones backed up before that happens.

  2. Citizen on August 21, 2015, 1:20 pm

    NYT, NY Review of Books? They’ve both lost all credibility for bright, educated US readers informed about Israel & US “special relationship” with Israel. Do they really think such readers would not notice the bias? The assumption that US intellectuals R the same as everyday US morons ties NYT & NY Review of Book together. They agree with Bibi that America is “easily led.”
    The bubble of both rags will burst; & they will never see it coming. When it does, they will blame it on “anti-semitism.” So, what’s new?

  3. a blah chick on August 21, 2015, 1:40 pm

    The NY Times has been carrying Israel’s water for a very loong time. here’s the headline for their article (Dec. 13, 1956) when Ben-Gurion finally made public the Kafr Qassim killings. (After they failed to bury it)

    48 ARABS KILLED; ISRAEL PENITENT; Ben-Gurion Informs Knesset That Police Slew Villagers Unaware of Curfew Was Proclaimed ‘Citizens With Equal Rights’

    See what headline writer did there? Before you know anything about how or why these people died you know that Israel is “penitent.” Also that these Palestinian Israelis are people with “equal rights.”

    I need to get all my kvetching out before the server goes down.

  4. Chespirito on August 21, 2015, 5:12 pm

    Terrific post! Cole’s an example of a great and subtle legal mind who gets so wrapped up in the law that he misses the bigger and more important picture. Courts, courts, courts, as if that’s the problem with US statecraft–not enough lawyers! Looking to Israel as a natsec role model is depressingly common in the U.S. legal academy, as if Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing and periodic assaults on Gaza weren’t making it an international pariah–but hey, all of these strategically and morally disastrous actions are being made within a thick layer of legal process, so they must be OK, such is the hopelessly nomophilic (law-loving, and it might be my coinage) bias of our law professors, even the progs.

  5. JLewisDickerson on August 21, 2015, 5:16 pm

    RE: “Fiss cites as a model the judgments of Aharon Barak, who as chief justice of the Israeli Supreme Court insisted that the law, and the court, had a central part to play in reviewing all aspects of Israel’s response to terror.”

    MY COMMENT: Aharon Barak was appointed to the High Court in 1978 and retired in 2006 when he reached the age requiring mandatory retirement. Israel has now drifted so far to the right that here is no way that someone like Aharon Barak could today be appointed to the High Court. In fact, it is more likely that the High Court would be bulldozed! –
    Like nearly everything else in Israel, the right-wing settlers are taking over the High Court. According to Wikipedia, the current president of the court, Miriam Naor, “hails from a family rooted in the revisionist Zionist tradition”. ‘Nuff said?!?!

  6. lysias on August 23, 2015, 2:46 pm

    Daily Telegraph says Vanity Fair’s article about Muslims attacking a Paris synagogue was fictional, but Vanity Fair stands by story: Was Paris’s Chief Rabbi rescued from an axe-wielding Nazi mob?: Police and Jewish authorities in Paris say Vanity Fair’s article about alleged anti-Semitic attack “has nothing to do with reality”.

    • RoHa on August 23, 2015, 3:05 pm

      So what? Just because it wasn’t real, you think we should ignore it?


    • tree on August 23, 2015, 6:26 pm

      Mondoweiss did a post on this a year ago when the incident happened. The story of the synagogue being attacked was debunked then by videos and statements from the President of the Roquette Synagogue himself. Why Vanity Fair is falsely reporting on, and even embelishing, a bogus claim from over a year ago deserves an answer, as well as an apology and a retraction.

      Mondo post here:

      Particularly note the comments by Sumud, Walid, Sycamore, myself and others about the location of the first video (“attacque de la synagogue de la roquette”) released, which was at first erroneously identified as taken from within the synagogue itself, and also comments from Alienkh, who was a participant in the original demonstration at the Bastille against Israel’s attack on Gaza in July 2014.

      • lysias on August 23, 2015, 6:30 pm

        French site Arret sur images supports Telegraph’s skeptical view of Marie Brenner’s Vanity Fair article.

        Note: Vanity Fair, like the New Yorker, is published by Conde Nast.

        Here’s the Liberation article that Arret sur images refers to: Une synagogue parisienne assiégée en 2014 ? La version erronée de «Vanity Fair». Sentence from that article:

        Sauf que cette version est totalement fausse.

        Couldn’t ask for a blunter statement than that. Liberation article confirms that Vanity Fair continues to stand by Brenner’s article, but adds that Brenner herself has declined to respond to the Telegraph article:

        Face aux critiques, Vanity Fair défend cet article, et la version de sa journaliste qui n’a, elle, pas souhaité répondre aux questions du Telegraph.

      • annie on August 23, 2015, 6:53 pm

        tree, i was reviewing this article a month or two ago when i read yet another article somewhere referencing this attack as largely anti semitic. so i looked up the date and reviewed our article (at the time) and it as i recall some of our embeds had been scrubbed. and there was one article in particular i tried googling and although it was still in google, when i click on it it too had been scrubbed. it seemed very strange at the time. so when i first read the tweet by french algerian award winning journo Nabila Ramdani a couple days ago (she’s been tweeting about this for a couple days now) i thought of those scrubbed articles. people have been pushing the counter narrative for a while. vanity fair is not the first one.

    • straightline on August 23, 2015, 6:45 pm

      This is pretty damning! I wonder what Ms Brenner’s students at Columbia would say about such a piece of journalism. From the Telegraph article:

      But there are no images or sound recordings to back up Ms Brenner’s published claims, police say, and Jewish groups in Paris have joined them in describing them as untrue.

      The police spokesman also invited Brenner to produce the “dozens of pictures” of people making Nazi-style salutes outside the Hyper-Cacher supermarket.

      A spokesman for the US magazine said: “We stand by our story.”

      Ms Brenner did not respond to requests for comment.

      A quick online search showed no independent sources – Pamella Geller had a piece based on the original article, as did William Jacobson, and Australia’s own Andrew Bolt.

      There is a photo in Ms Brenner’s piece with a conveniently placed swastika on the Marianne statue. Hmmm!

    • PeaceThroughJustice on August 23, 2015, 6:48 pm

      “Note: Vanity Fair, like the New Yorker, is published by Conde Nast.”

      Which has been owned by the Newhouse family since 1987. (I hate to be a “conspiracy theorist,” but anyone who is not keeping track of who owns our media deserves everything they get.)

  7. Kay24 on August 23, 2015, 9:19 pm

    It seems Harry Reid is fully supporting the Iran deal (you took your time, Harry)

    “WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declared on Sunday that he will support President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, ending speculation that he was waffling on the agreement.

    “This is the best way, the only way, to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,” Reid told The Washington Post.

    Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston also reported Sunday that Reid was planning to back the deal.

    For weeks, Reid’s position on the deal remained a mystery. However, Reid told the Post that he had privately supported the deal for weeks but wanted to confer with advisers and supporters in Nevada before publicly announcing his stance.” Huffiest

  8. bpm on August 24, 2015, 1:14 pm

    I suppose it’s not surprising that NYRB hosts writers with such views. Interesting to note that they rejected Noam Chomsky early on. I gather he took that as a lesson and never appeared in their pages as an author. That says plenty about their intellectual honesty and integrity.

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