Author and journalist Max Blumenthal’s second book came out on October 1. Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel recounts Blumenthal’s four-year quest to fully cover, document and chronicle Israel’s inexorable tilt to a country so far to the right, so authoritarian, so overtly racist, so defiant of international standards, that it risks becoming more than a bit like North Korea in the ways it turns inward, denying the reality of the world’s perception of what the small nation actually is.
Blumenthal’s first book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party, came out in late summer of 2009. In it, Blumenthal described in detail how fundamentalist Christian organizations and figures changed the Republican Party into something authoritarian, anti-democratic, overtly racist, anti-science and in denial of how its actions are perceived by the American public at large. It became a New York Times best seller and continues to resonate, as many of the ideas and figures Blumenthal exposed in it have become more powerful in GOP behind-the-scenes decisions.
During Republican Gomorrah‘s book tour, Blumenthal made a number of appearances on mainstream venues. The American media does not handle discussing the dangers of religious fundamentalism very well – unless the fundamentalists being discussed happen to be Muslim. When on Morning Joe with Joe Scarborough, in September, 2009, Scarborough refused to give Blumenthal’s basic premise — that the far right’s obeisance to fundamentalism is deep and structural — any credence. Even Terry Gross, when interviewing Max on Fresh Air, around the same time, had trouble coming to grips with the importance of Blumenthal’s revelations (although it is a damn good interview!) More than any of the many other interviews Max participated in back in late 2009, Gross and Blumenthal got into the ties between GOP Christian Zionists and Zionism itself.
That same week, Max was welcomed to a Book Salon session here at Firedoglake, hosted by Watertiger. At that time, I posted an appreciation of the young author, titled “Watching Max Blumenthal Grow to be a Major American Writer.”
Max’s work first came to the attention of many through his Youtube postings, where some called him “the Youtube Michael Moore.” The most famous — and notorious — was made in late Spring of 2009. It was banned from Youtube several times, but keeps on cropping up:
While writing Goliath, Blumenthal has been in and out of Israel and Palestine numerous times. He just returned from the West Bank and Israel late last month, where this video was made by Philip Weiss:
Goliath is a monumental read. It is divided into a large number of short chapters. Each encapsulates, a person, a political movement, an aspect of life in Israel or the occupied territories, or takes aside an historical event, to put it into the context of what Israel has become. The end result is a richly detailed, thoroughly damning volume that — if taken seriously — might single-handedly change public perception in the U.S. of what Israel has become.
Blumenthal aptly shows how the seeds of Israeli racism have always been there, but were attenuated in some ways by a strong liberal movement, and political parties that sought justice, or at least comity with Israel’s non-Jewish citizens. He shows how the forces of opposition to the worst aspects of Zionist and Israeli militarism have been either browbeaten back, or have simply disappeared on their own. What is left, what Israel now is, and its frightening future prospects, makes for a compelling read.
Max Blumenthal was on Democracy Now! this morning, interviewed by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales. Here is a link.
It will be interesting to see how much exposure our media will give to Blumenthal’s second book. Although the mainstream is reluctant to enable anyone’s narrative that portrays Israel accurately as the thuggish, racist bastion it has become, just this past week, as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu gave his strangest U.N. speech yet, there has been push back that has surprised some.
I’ll be hosting Max at a Firedoglake Book Salon, on November 2nd. I hope you can come join us then.
Image by Steve Aufrecht, used with permission.