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Firedoglake Book Salon Preview: The Battle for Justice in Palestine by Ali Abunimah

10:13 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Author Ali Abunimah

Please join us Sunday for Ali Abunimah’s The Battle for Justice in Palestine. I’ll be hosting. Of the FDL book salons on the subject of Palestine-Israel that I have hosted, I’m looking forward to this one the most. Ali has been in this battle for a long time. We will get to witness him explain the book’s bold opening sentence, “The Palestinians are winning.” And much more.

I.  2014 is a year seeing rapid changes in how the world views and reacts to relations between Israel and Israelis, and their co-inhabitants, in the so-called “Land Between the River and the Sea.” Terms used to describe Israeli policies and laws, words such as “racist” or “apartheid,” for instance, are quickly gaining more currency, more acceptance. Pushback against use of such terms by ardent Zionists seems to get less traction in the public at large by the day.

The main reason this is the case is simply grounded in abundant examples of racist and apartheid incidents, rules, policies and actions perpetrated daily in that land. The very recent assignment of blame on the breakdown of the Peace Process™ talks supervised by the U.S. State Department, between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Foreign Office on the Israelis, by Secretary of State John Kerry, lead negotiator Martin Indyk and others is unprecedented.

Every week more organizations become leery of dealing with Israel as if everything is normal there. Pension funds divest. Professional associations pass resolutions to cut ties with their Israeli counterparts. Churches pass resolutions of condemnation or divestment, even an unblushing published study guide labeling Zionism as “false theology.” College student government bodies debate the utility of the Global BDS Movement, and vote to participate in it – or not. The list of professional associations of college faculty boycotting Israeli institutions grows monthly. This trend will only accelerate, as Israel is plummeting over the edge, no longer able to hide the true nature of the country’s vision of Jewish supremacy at the expense of non-Jews. Just this Thursday, Israeli Economic Minister Naftali Bennett proposed, once again, to Prime Minister Netanyahu, to annex Area C, 74% of the West Bank:

Bennett has presented his plan in recent weeks to foreign diplomats stationed in the country. The proposal includes removing IDF roadblocks in the territory left under Palestinian control, Areas A and B, as well as investing in infrastructure there and pursuing massive economic development.

Annexing Area C, Bennett has said, will secure Israel’s vital interests by creating a buffer zone for Gush Dan and Jerusalem. It will also preserve Israel’s “vital” national heritage sites.

According to sources close to the Bayit Yehudi leader, he will push forward with the plan regardless of whether Hamas and Fatah implement their unity agreement, and regardless whether Israeli-Palestinian talks start anew. Bennett, according to sources close to him, believes those talks will ultimately fail.

Europe and the United Nations – which have indicated they view Area C as vital for the viability of a future Palestinian state – have in the last few years increasingly focused on shoring up Palestinian development there, including with financial assistance.

This annexation would result in the remainders of Palestine being something that looks like nothing in the world more than the former Bantustans of South Africa: Read the rest of this entry →

Max Blumenthal Shares Lessons from U Michigan Divestment Campaign

7:30 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Max+Blumenthal+in+Anchorage

Author, journalist and videographer Max Blumenthal participated in the debate before the University of Michigan’s Central Government Council, on March 25th, regarding possible divestment from companies that profit from Israeli occupation of Palestine, and repression of Palestinian society. He was the leadoff presenter for Michigan Students Allied for Equality. Blumenthal spoke for just under thirty minutes. It is one of the most powerfully passionate speeches I’ve ever heard on Palestinian rights and what that should mean to colleges in the United States, whose investments are intertwined with elements of the illegal occupation by Israel of the West Bank, and with the draconian blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Here is Max Blumenthal’s March 25th presentation:

Today, Mondoweiss carried an essay by Blumenthal, titled “‘A Painful Price’: The escalating war on Palestine solidarity at U of Michigan and beyond.” In the article, he describes the intimidation tactics used against some of the student coordinators for Michigan Students Allied for Equality. His findings are somewhat disturbing. In the midst of accusations against a number of the student activists of intimidation, the activists are themselves undergoing organized intimidation tactics:

During SAFE’s week-long sit-in, a close-knit group of pro-Israel students filed a series of incendiary accusations against SAFE members, accusing them in formal reports to university administrators of delivering anti-Semitic tirades laced with antiquated terms like ‘kike’ and ‘dirty Jew.’ At the same time, Facebook profiles belonging to SAFE members were invaded by a mysterious account named ‘ZPC Viper Matrix.‘ Personal information of SAFE members, their families, and Palestine rights supporters across the country including American Studies Association President-elect Lisa Duggan have appeared on the Viper Matrix Facebook page, often in distorted form alongside derogatory comments, prompting several students to cancel their accounts.

Among those who told me their profile photos and personal information were uploaded at the Viper Matrix page was Sharifah Abdallah, a Palestinian member of Loyola University’s Student Government Association who has actively supported Loyola SJP’s divestment campaign. ‘People are scared in my community,’ Abdallah remarked to me. ‘Unlike other Palestinians from the diaspora, we return frequently to our land. So these tactics are designed to silence us by making us afraid that we won’t be allowed back in to Palestine.’

Blumenthal, in his Mondoweiss article, recounts many other intimidation episodes. Please read it. Especially chilling are Blumenthal’s concluding paragraphs:

As divestment resolutions are introduced at new campuses each month, pro-Israel partisans appear determined to introduce more counter-measures. In a recent editorial for the Jerusalem Post, former advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Caroline Glick demanded that universities that allow Palestine solidarity activism on campus ‘pay a painful price.’

‘Only the threat of civil lawsuits, federal investigations of civil rights violations, and alumni threats to withhold gifts will force university administrations to take action against the anti-Semitic thugs that are instituting a reign of terror at university after university,’ Glick wrote.

Declaring Northeastern’s suspension of its SJP chapter to be ‘minimal,’ she called for the mass firing of campus police officers who enforce university rules around Palestine-related events. Finally, Glick demanded that Students for Justice in Palestine be ‘permanently barred from operating on campus.’

Though they are far from realizing their draconian goals, Glick and her allies are setting a clear precedent at Northeastern, Michigan, and beyond.

Wednesday, writer and recent University of California Santa Cruz graduate, Rebecca Pierce, wrote, also at Mondoweiss, about current tactics being deployed by militant expansionist, exceptionalist Zionists, against Middle East Studies programs at American Universities:

On March 19, Louis D. Brandeis Center President Kenneth Marcus keynoted a Washington DC panel organized by the hardline pro-Israel Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET). It was titled ‘Politicizing Education: Title VI of the Higher Education Act.’

Speaking from an ornate room in Washington DC’s Russell Senate Office Building, Marcus described the seminar as ‘the first public event inaugurating phase two of Title VI reform.’ Sitting alongside him were Campus Watch Director Winfield Myers, National Review Online columnist Stanley Kurtz and Tammi Rossman Benjamin, Amcha Initiative co-founder and a member of the Brandeis Center Academic Advisory Board. The panel was introduced and moderated by Sarah Stern, founder and president of EMET and a member of the Islamophobic Clarion Fund’s advisory board.

Using the seemingly benign terminology of ‘Title VI reform,’ Marcus and his fellow panelists laid out the blueprint for a right-wing pro-Israel attack on federal funding for Middle Eastern studies programs. By using amendments to Title VI of the Higher Education Act that were originally created to police programs deemed too critical of of US foreign policy following 9/11, Marcus and his allies are seeking to pull federal grants from Middle Eastern studies programs they deem overly critical of Israel.

Blumenthal, in his article, describes such tactics as “a desperate but determined fighting retreat.” He is correct in this characterization. In the struggle by students nationwide, in Canada, in the United Kingdom and in Europe, who support Palestinian civil rights, the victories by these activists are growing in number. At the University of Michigan, the student activists failed to get their resolution passed. But each week, more and more campuses are taking up this matter, some with marked success.

Expect the Zionist tactics to get more nasty and desperate by the month.

Max Blumenthal and Justin Raimondo: The 21st Century’s First “Premature Anti-Fascists”?

10:48 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

A crowd at the Euromaidan, one spectator looks at the cameraBack in the 1990s, British-American classicist, Bernard Knox, related how he became aware of the term “premature anti-Fascist.”  Knox was interviewing in 1946 for entry into the PhD program at Yale.  Knox had just left his distinguished wartime service in the U.S. Army:

The [interviewing] Professor, who had himself served in the US Army in 1917-18, was very interested [in Knox's military record], and remarked on the fact that, in addition to the usual battle-stars for service in the European Theatre, I had been awarded a Croix de Guerre a l’Ordre de l’Armée, the highest category for that decoration.

Asked how I got it, I explained that, in July 1944, I had parachuted, in uniform, behind the Allied lines in Brittany to arm and organize French Resistance forces and hold them ready for action at the moment most useful for the Allied advance. “Why were you selected for that operation?” he asked, and I told him that I was one of the few people in the US Army who could speak fluent, idiomatic, and (if necessary) pungently coarse French. When he asked me where I had learned it, I told him that I had fought in 1936 on the northwest sector of the Madrid front in the French Battalion of the XIth International Brigade.

“Oh,” he said, “You were a premature anti-Fascist.” [emphasis added]

Last month’s violent Ukrainian coup d’état has garnered more attention than any of the other coups taking out democratically elected administrations during the Obama period.  In spite of the fact that the 2009 Honduran coup was in our own hemisphere, it received very little attention in the U.S. media.  The Ukrainian coup is being portrayed by U.S. and western European media as somehow democratically inspired.  Valid questions about how it was funded and supported aren’t getting much play at MSNBC, ABC, CBS, FOX or NPR.  Rather, the attention has been on the response of the Russian government to an event these outlets personify in the body of Vladimir Putin.  U.S. media gets worse at covering issues by the day, it seems.

Articles in the alternative media are asking these questions, though.  Here at firedoglake there have been a good number of them.  Two articles appearing elsewhere since the coup’s seeming success impress me as being deep in their detail of some pretty damning evidence of a fascist resurgence at play here.  Max Blumenthal’s article, Is the US backing Neo-Nazis in Ukraine?, appeared in late February. However Justin Raimondo’s essay at antiwar.com, A Monster Reawakens: The Rise of Ukrainian Fascism, is unblinking:

For the first time since 1933, the followers of a movement that valorizes Adolf Hitler and preaches anti-Semitism has entered a European government. The German Nazis, too, were part of a “coalition” government, the other members of which thought they could contain or even “tame” them and prevent a Communist takeover. They were tragically wrong – and the United States and its European allies are taking the same road in backing Hitler’s heirs in Ukraine.

Of course the majority of the government’s supporters are hardly hardcore neo-Nazis: but that isn’t necessary to make this a precedent the West will live to regret. [emphasis added]

Raimondo lists the new “interim government” fascists appointed to key cabinet and administrative posts:

Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok, now a top official of the Ukrainian Parliament, is an unrepentant anti-Semite. In the summer of 2004, he made a speech to his followers at the gravesite of a Banderist commander in which he declared: “You are the ones that the Moscow-Jewish mafia ruling Ukraine fears most.” His peroration also made reference to “Kikes” as prominent among those the Banderists fought. Tyahnybok was expelled from Parliament for his remarks, but the “revolution” has installed him back in his seat – and more powerful than ever.

He has plenty of company. Svoboda activists, who already held seats in Parliament, hold no less than eight top Cabinet positions:

  • Ihor Tenyukh – interim defense minister and a member of Svoboda’s political council. Formerly commander of Ukraine’s navy, in 2008, during Russia’s war with Georgia, he ordered Ukrainian warships to block the entrance of the Russian Navy to the bay of Sevastopol.
  • Andriy Parubiy – National Security Council chief, co-founded Svoboda back when it was the “Social National” (ahem!) party.
  • Dmytro Yarosh – deputy head of the National Security Council, i.e. the police, and the founder-leader of “Right Sector,” a militant neo-Nazi paramilitary group that took charge of security in the Maiden.
  • Oleh Makhnitsky – Svoboda member of parliament, is prosecutor-general.
  • Oleksandr Sych – Svoboda parliamentarian and the party’s chief ideologist, is deputy prime minister for economic affairs.
  • Serhiy Kvit – a leading member of Svoboda, is to head up the Education Ministry.
  • Andriy Moknyk – the new Minister of Ecology, has been Svoboda’s envoy to other European fascist parties. Last year, he met with representatives of Italy’s violent neo-fascist gang, Forza Nuovo.
  • Ihor Shvaika – agro-oligarch and a member of Svoboda, has been appointed Minister of Agriculture. One of the richest men in the country, his massive investments in agriculture would seem to indicate a slight conflict of interest.

Blumenthal’s article was written before most of these “interim” posts were filled.  However, he followed the street battles closely:

White supremacist banners and Confederate flags were draped inside Kiev’s occupied City Hall, and demonstrators have hoisted Nazi SS and white power symbols over a toppled memorial to V.I. Lenin. After Yanukovich fled his palatial estate by helicopter, EuroMaidan protestersdestroyed a memorial to Ukrainians who died battling German occupation during World War II. Sieg heil salutes and the Nazi Wolfsangel symbol have become an increasingly common site in Maidan Square, and neo-Nazi forces have established “autonomous zones” in and around Kiev.

And, typical of Blumenthal, he included some wry humor:

An Anarchist group called AntiFascist Union Ukraine attempted to join the Euromaidan demonstrations but found it difficult to avoid threats of violence and imprecations from the gangs of neo-Nazis roving the square. “They called the Anarchists things like Jews, blacks, Communists,” one of its members said. “There weren’t even any Communists, that was just an insult.”

Will the U.S. and western European media begin to cover the fascist component of this coup more studiously?

What do you think?

Meanwhile, will excellent authors and essayists such as Blumenthal and Raimondo be labeled by coup supporters and their sidekicks as “premature anti-fascists”?

Photo by Jose Luis Orihuela released under a Creative Commons license.

Saturday Art: Will 2014 Be the Watershed Year for Cultural Boycotts of Israel?

11:29 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Moddi

I.  On December 27th, Gaza’s University Teachers’ Association and the Gaza Palestinian Students for the Academic Boycott of Israel wrote to young Norwegian songwriter, Moddi, asking him to cancel his upcoming 2014 concert, in Tel Aviv on February 1st.  Friday the young and rapidly upcoming artist responded, in a Facebook post that links to an article Jello Biafra wrote after he had cancelled an Israeli show, with his band, the Guantanamo School of Medicine, back in 2011.

The Gaza letter is an openly emotional plea.  It recounts some musicians who have recently decided to cancel appearances in the militant expansionist Zionist state:

We call upon your free soul that has been adding uplifting music into this disenchanted world of ours, to join those courageous people of conscience, artists like Elvis Costello, Annie Lennox, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, Massive Attack, Gil Scott-Heron, Faithless, Carlos Santana, Vanessa Paradis, Natacha Atlas and Devendra Banhart.

And directly confronts the notion of an Israeli performance being appropriate, from a Gazan perspective:

We ask you now, like so many people of your nation have stood with the oppressed in the past, to stand on the right side of history, to respond to our call from the Gaza ghetto to not turn your back on us. If you play in Israel, then we will be a short distance away from where you are playing. But your beautiful tunes will break our wrenching hearts and not sway our souls.

I’ve watched a few of Moddi’s Youtube videos over the past year, after a student turned me on to his art.  Here is what the Gazan suppliants meant when they wrote “your beautiful tunes.”  Moddi, rendering Smoke, with Katrine Schiøtt, in Istanbul:

Moddi’s Facebook response to the Gazans is as poignant and defiant as his song, Smoke:

I have chosen to cancel my performance in Tel Aviv on February 1st. This is without comparison the most difficult decision I have ever made as an artist, and one that hurts almost as much as it feels right.

The reason for my decision is the situation in Israel and the areas it controls. Although music can be a unique arena for public debate, the debate over these territories has been misused for a long time. Discussion and dialogue creates an impression of constant progress. The realities of politics are very different. An example: as we speak, John Kerry is negotiating peace talks between Israel and Palestine, while at the same time Israel announces the construction of 1400 new settlements on occupied land. While everyone speaks about a two-state solution, the constant scattering of the West Bank through the building of new control posts, security fences and walls are making such a solution practically impossible.

The discourse of peace creates a thick veil, concealing the increasingly tighter besiegement of Gaza, the ongoing fragmentation of the West Bank and the continuing discrimination of Arab-Israeli citizens. By encouraging ‘dialogue’ and ‘tolerance’ as ideals, I am afraid that my voice will do nothing but to increase the already dysfunctional divide between words and action in a conflict where no one seems to trust each other’s intentions.

I know that I disappoint many of my Israeli listeners and I am truthfully sorry that it has to stay like this for now. I believe that you will understand, although you might not agree. Again, I encourage you to read Jello Biafra’s article, which provides many perspectives and no clear answers to the questions he has been faced with. Like him, I am overwhelmed by the complexity of the situation. Therefore, I will be going to Israel and to the West Bank to see things with my own eyes, meet some of the people who have joined the discussion and try to understand the situation better.

As long as ‘dialogue’ continues to be a goal in itself and not a means to solve one of the deepest, most intense conflicts of this time, I will not lend my voice to it. For now I’ll keep away, hoping that things can change for the better and that one day I can carry through with my very first concert on an Israeli stage.

Read the rest of this entry →

VIDEO: Max Blumenthal Addresses the New America Foundation

8:47 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Max Blumenthal portraits

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On Tuesday, author, journalist and videographer Max Blumenthal addressed the New America Foundation, to a packed house, in the ballroom of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  The foundation, which had been subjected to enormous pressure from Zionist organizations to cancel the event, is still being attacked for having gone through with their commitment to present the young author, as he described the background and content of his recent book, Goliath:  Life sand Loathing in Greater Israel.

Meanwhile, liberal-ish writer Eric Alterman is continuing his attacks on Blumenthal, most recently by complaining about an article published in Salon, written by Natasha Lennard:

I have always respected Salon’s standards, both ethical and journalistic, in the past and hence I must admit to surprise that these appear to have been so casually discarded in the interview with Max Blumenthal published under the (ridiculous) headline, “Max Blumenthal: I knew Alterman would freak out.” I’ve been trying to avoid getting sucked any further into this controversy than was necessitated by my initially agreeing—at the behest of my editors at The Nation—to devote my regular column to Blumenthal’s book which was published by Nation Books and was to be excerpted in the magazine. Following the column, I explained myself in a blog post, added a few details for which I had no room, and would have been happy to end the matter there. Since then, I have been forced to address falsehood after falsehood put forth by Blumenthal and his defenders and now, because this is Salon and not some other publication known for its dishonesty and/or anti-Zionist fanaticism, I am forced to do so once again. So let’s get it over with….

As I wrote, two or three “last time I’ll write about this” agos from Alterman – we’ll see.

Here is Max Blumenthal, addressing the foundation, and then taking questions for about half an hour:

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Israel’s Prawer Plan: A New Trail of Tears

1:48 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The Israeli government and Netanyahu administration are going ahead with plans to ethnically cleanse between 30,000 and 70,000 Bedouin Israeli citizens from the area of their ancient homeland into new abodes. It is the so-called Prawer Plan (or Prawer-Begin Plan):

The United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recently stated that carrying out such a relocation without Bedouin consent is a violation of international law.

OCHA also said that the proposed relocation site will put at risk the Bedouin peoples’ health and way of life. “The proposed site does not meet minimum standards in terms of distance from the municipal dumping grounds, which is likely to pose a health hazard to the communities, and provides limited access to grazing lands. Previously relocated families report negative consequences, including health concerns, loss of livelihood, deteriorated living conditions, loss of tribal cohesion and erosion of traditional lifestyles.”

It goes without saying, Israel needs to abandon this malicious plan to quite literally throw the Bedouin into the garbage.

These people being ethnically cleansed aren’t Palestinians residing in the West Bank or Gaza. They are Israeli citizens. Why are they being forcibly relocated?

The Israeli government on Sunday authorized construction plans for two new settlements in the southern Negev region, one of which is slated to be established on territory currently inhabited by a number of unrecognized Bedouin communities.

The planned establishment of Hiran and Kassif was announced during a special cabinet meeting that took place at the Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute in Sde Boker to mark the fortieth anniversary of the death of Israel’s first prime minister.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the decision and declared that the step would further the vision propounded by David Ben-Gurion.

The plan will ‘expedite the development of the entire Negev,’ the prime minster said, adding that Ben-Gurion ‘very much wanted to achieve’ such a goal.

Over the past weekend, demonstrations in Israel, the West Bank, Europe, the USA and elsewhere were held, in solidarity with the Bedouin, who are being rewarded for generations of willing subservience to the Israeli state with something that can easily be compared with our own country’s southeast USA Trail of Tears, brutally enforced between 1831 and 1837:

In 1831 the Choctaw were the first to be removed, and they became the model for all other removals. After the Choctaw, the Seminole were removed in 1832, the Creek in 1834, then the Chickasaw in 1837, and finally the Cherokee in 1838. After removal, some Native Americans remained in their ancient homelands – the Choctaw are found in Mississippi, the Seminole in Florida, the Creek in Alabama, and the Cherokee in North Carolina. A limited number of non-native Americans (including African-Americans – usually as slaves) also accompanied the Native American nations on the trek westward. By 1837, 46,000 Native Americans from these southeastern states had been removed from their homelands thereby opening 25 million acres for predominantly white settlement.

Israeli reactions to Bedouin protests and solidarity actions across that country have been somewhat harsh. Reactions by members of the openly racist Israeli government have been poorly reported in US media so far, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, but Haaretz reports:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the protests Saturday evening with Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino. According to the Prime Minister’s Bureau, Netanyahu lauded the police force’s efforts and its ‘steadfast work in the face of the protesters.’

Netanyahu said, ‘We will not put up with such unruliness”‘and that lawbreakers would be held to account. ‘There has not been and will not be any tolerance of lawbreakers. The attempt of a loud and violent minority to prevent a better future for a large and wide population is severe. We will continue advancing the bill for a better future for all residents of the Negev,’ he said.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also responded to the protests. In a post on his Facebook page, Lieberman criticized the protesters.

We are fighting for the national land of the Jewish people, and there are those who are trying to steal [this land] and take it over by force,’ he said, adding that he initially opposed the Prawer-Begin bill but eventually decided to support it because he was told that the Bedouin leaders had consented to the plan.

‘Just like we had feared, the Bedouin are only interested in the “carrot” – the benefits and the alternative land – while making every effort, even through violence, to oppose the “stick,”‘ he continued. ‘They must leave the land on which they reside illegally.’

Lieberman also called on the government to rethink the entire plan and nix the benefits that were promised to the Bedouin. [emphases added]

It is hard to make a comparison to this reaction to that of American politicians in the face of Native American resistance to having to leave their ancestral farms for the plains of Oklahoma.  It is as if, had Andrew Jackson been Lieberman, he had stated “Screw the land deal.  We’re going to sell you all on the slave blocks in New Orleans!”  Or something like that.

In the Negev, where the removals will soon commence, police were fairly brutal:
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Attacks on Max Blumenthal’s “Goliath” Escalate, Veer into Wingnut Land – Updated

7:44 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Goliath Crosses Netanyahu's Red Line

The initial attack on Max Blumenthal’s new book, released October 1st, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel (currently No. 2 on Amazon’s history of Israel best seller list), was led by Eric Alterman, writing for the November 4th edition of The Nation.  Alterman condemned the book, using the now widely reported terms for it as “The ‘I Hate Israel’ Handbook,” and “Hamas Book-of-the-Month” selection.  Within days of Alterman posting his first critical essay at The Nation, he posted another.  Then, in response to detailed critiques of Alterman’s analyses of the book by Blumenthal and others, Alterman jumped in a third time.

Alterman initially refused to appear in any forum with Blumenthal, to discuss or debate the book’s content and subject matter, but has now indicated he might show up “for $10,000 plus expenses, paid in advance.”

Goliath has received a number of positive reviews.  Perhaps the most comprehensive was that by Chris Hedges, posted at Truthdig:

 There are very few intellectuals or writers who have the tenacity and courage to confront this reality [the self-adulation and latent racism that lie at the core of modern Zionism].

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. Blumenthal burrows deep into the dark heart of Israel. The American journalist binds himself to the beleaguered and shunned activists, radical journalists and human rights campaigners who are the conscience of the nation, as well as Palestinian families in the West Bank struggling in vain to hold back Israel’s ceaseless theft of their land. Blumenthal, in chapter after chapter, methodically rips down the facade. And what he exposes, in the end, is a corpse.

Even as Alterman led the attacks, he was quickly outdone in the dismissive, yet somewhat shallow tone he introduced.   Wall Street Journal Assistant Book Editor, Sohrab Ahmari, announced on Twitter:

@Eric_Alterman rips to shreds @maxblumenthal‘s “Goliath,” of which two review copies currently sit in my trashcan.

What may have turned out to be the most disturbing element introduced by Alterman, was his bringing Max Blumenthal’s father, Sidney Blumenthal, into the argument.  What seemed to some as an innocuous comment in Alterman’s first article, has turned into a sordid campaign by even more sordid people, to attack both the elder Blumenthal, and Hillary and Bill Clinton, and their foundation.  The hits have devolved from Buzzfeed.com to Breitbart.com to white supremacist Robert Stacy McCain’s blog, as the threats have escalated.

On November 6th, Buzzfeed.com carried an article by Rosie Gray, centering on Max’s father:

In a follow-up blog post after the initial review, Alterman wrote that he had become the target of emails sent around by Blumenthal to friends and associates as a result of his review of the book.

‘I attribute to these friendly relations the fact that until now, Sid Blumenthal had not seen fit to make me the object of any of the unflattering e-mails he so often sends around to journalists and others — myself included — about individuals of whom he disapproves,’ Alterman wrote. ‘Privately, I worried that by telling the truth about his son’s book, I would soon hear of nasty e-mails about me sent by Sid to our mutual friends and professional acquaintances. Call it “bizarre,” if you will, but sadly, that’s just what happened.’

BuzzFeed obtained one of the Blumenthal emails from a source; it features a copied-and-pasted article from the anti-Zionist blog Mondoweiss, sent with the subject line ‘Fact-checking Eric Alterman on Goliath.‘ The article in question, by writer Phan Nguyen, calls on The Nation to retract Alterman’s review, describes Alterman as an “unreliable narrator,” and states that he has “undermined his self-proclaimed status as a conscientious critic of the Israeli occupation.”

Gray pursued the links between Sidney Blumenthal and the Clintons:

Several phone calls and emails to the Clinton Foundation seeking clarification on Blumenthal’s role in the organization went unanswered. A BuzzFeed reporter who went to the Clinton Foundation’s offices in New York on Tuesday seeking the organization’s most recent IRS 990 form was turned away.

“We don’t know what you’re referring to,” said Clinton Foundation spokesperson Nick Merill when asked about the emails and whether Hillary Clinton is aware of Blumenthal’s defense of Goliath. He copied Clinton spokespeople Philippe Reines and Matt McKenna on his response to BuzzFeed, as well as Sidney Blumenthal.

The pressure on Billary and the foundation was stepped up on November 8th, with that estimable source, Breitbart.com, giving space, in an article by Joel B. Pollack, to Alan Dershowitz:

On Friday, Dershowitz told Breitbart News that Sid Blumenthal’s vociferous advocacy for his son’s book could damage Hillary Clinton’s widely anticipated run for her party’s nomination for president in 2016.

The article goes on to quote Dershowitz:

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Book Salon Preview: Goliath, Life & Loathing in Greater Israel by Max Blumenthal – Part Three: The Complete Real News Interviews

8:58 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

This past week, Max Blumenthal, author of Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, sat for five interview with The Real News‘ Paul Jay.  I posted part one here in mid-week.  All five segments have now been posted at The Real News.  Saturday afternoon, Firedoglake will host Blumenthal on the Saturday portion of the weekly Book Salon.  As part of the preliminaries for this important salon, here are all five segments, posted together for your convenience.

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Part Four:

I’ll post when I can find a link…..

Part Five:

Book Salon Preview: Goliath, Life & Loathing in Greater Israel by Max Blumenthal – Part Two: The Book’s Reception – Updated

3:28 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Join the FDL Book Salon with Max Blumenthal, hosted by Edward Teller this Saturday at 2:00pm PST.

Max Blumenthal’s new book, Goliath:  Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, was released October 1.  It is his second book. Republican Gomorrah:  Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party was his first.

Goliath cover

Some supporters of Israeli politics have lobbied harsh, questionably accurate criticism at Goliath.

Released in September, 2009, it became a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller. During the author’s book tour for Republican Gomorrah, Blumenthal was interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air, on CNN’s Morning Joe, and numerous other prime author venues. Reviews of the book, almost universally favorable, were printed in such mainstream outlets as Harper’s, the Los Angeles Times, truth-out and others. Considering how difficult it is to get our mainstream media to look deeply into inconvenient aspects of fundamentalist Christianity, and how that plays out in GOP ideology, Republican Gomorrah was surprisingly well covered by them. Firedoglake hosted Max for a book salon session.

That coverage of his second book is far less universal is no surprise to those of us who have observed the rollout of books critical of aspects of Israeli society, or which look closely at the unhealthy role Zionists play in internal American politics. For instance, in 2007, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer’s book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, was widely reviled in articles and reviews. However, in the six years since publication, the book’s impact has been seen as seminal, in forcing more and better informed open discussion of that lobby’s influence. Five years after publication, author Walt wrote:

[D]iscussions of the lobby and its impact have moved from the fringes of U.S. discourse to the mainstream. Today, one can read or watch people from Jon Stewart to Andrew Sullivan to Glenn Greenwald to David Remnick to Nicholas Kristof acknowledging the lobby’s role in shaping U.S. Middle East policy. Editorials in mainstream papers like the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times call for the U.S. government to adopt a tougher approach toward the Israeli government. More and more news stories on U.S. Middle East policy refer to the ‘Israel lobby’ as a serious political force, and not always in flattering terms. Even hard-line neoconservatives like David Frum now acknowledge the power of groups in the lobby, as in Frum’s recent complaint that Sarah Palin failed to appreciate the political benefits she could gain by choosing to visit Israel under the auspices of the Republican Jewish Coalition, instead of going on her own. Of course, our book and article are surely not the only reason for this shift in discourse, but we probably played a role.

A fairly modest claim.

Blumenthal has not been invited back on to Fresh Air or Morning Joe. Or on to any mainstream venues normally available to authors of his high caliber upon launch of a new book. Nor will he be, even if the book becomes a best seller, which is fairly likely.

The push-back against Max Blumenthal for Goliath is reminiscent to the reception of The Israel Lobby. One might say, though, that the militant Zionist hits against the new book are informed somewhat by what Zionist commentators have learned from Walt and Mearsheimer’s book.

The most savage attack on Blumenthal’s book was published in the November edition of  The Nation, which is also publisher of Goliath. Progressive-ish writer and commentator, Eric Alterman, in an article called “The ‘I Hate Israel’ Handbook,” castigated it with one-liners like “this book could have been published by the Hamas Book-of-the-Month Club.” Alterman’s article was immediately criticized for its inaccuracies and invective, perhaps most thoroughly by journalist Phan Nguyen, in an article initially published at Mondoweiss. I wrote about Alterman’s hit job and Nguyen’s comprehensive responses here, back on October 19th.

Alterman won’t let things go.  Though he has failed to respond to Nguyen’s throughly researched critique, he has responded to the author’s rebuttal to the initial Alterman articles panning the book and its creator, concluding:

Literally nothing this fellow writes can be taken at face value. He shames all of us with his presence in our magazine.

One of the fascinating details of the lengthening Alterman-Blumenthal exchange at The Nation is that all of Blumenthal’s articles have allowed reader comments, but none of Alterman’s provide that feature.

Alterman also noted:

Blumenthal’s letter is no less dishonest and disingenuous than his dreadful book (a book, I hasten to add that has received virtually no attention in the print media, save in my column). I will answer each and every one of his charges in the order he makes them and then I hope and pray I will finally be done with this mishegas forever.

I really doubt that, Eric.

Between now and Saturday’s book salon with Max Blumenthal, there may be other reviews of the book, or negative articles such as those accumulating by or because of Alterman. I’ll update this post if that occurs.

UPDATE ONE:

1).  Eric Alterman is claiming that Max Blumenthal’s Dad, Sydney Blumenthal, is attacking Alterman in emails.  Yet Alterman, when asked to disclose the content of the alleged attacks, has refused to cooperate with the reporter to  whom he is complaining:

Sidney Blumenthal, a close adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton, has reportedlyundertaken an email campaign to defend a controversial book written by his son that compares Israel to Nazi Germany.

The book, written by Max Blumenthal, accuses Israel of being a fascist country and has chapter titles explicitly comparing the Jewish State to Nazi Germany, such as “The Concentration Camp” and “The Night of Broken Glass.”

According to the Nation columnist Eric Alterman, who harshly reviewed the book, long-time Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal has sent “nasty emails” to “our mutual friends and professional acquaintances” attacking him for “telling the truth about his son’s book.”

Alterman’s refusal to disclose specifics:

Alterman declined to give additional details on the contents of the alleged emails, telling the Free Beacon that “private emails deserve to stay private.” He said he only mentioned them in his column because “it was necessary to answer one of Max Blumenthal’s myriad charges.”

2).  Alterman is interviewed by The Forward‘s J.J. Goldberg:

There’s an unpleasant little debate sloshing around the Web lately that tells you all you need to know — and perhaps more than you want to hear — about the current state of relations between Israel and the left.

The debate revolves around an unpleasant book published October 1 by Nation Books, titled “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel.” The author is Max Blumenthal, gonzo journalist, video provocateur and son of onetime Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal. The book is the product, the author says, of four years’ work, including more than a year living in Israel and the Palestinian territories to study the facts on the ground.

As his title makes clear, he didn’t think much of the place. He’s written a collection of 73 short vignettes, weaving together reportage, history and interviews to show the suffering and unbroken spirit of the Palestinians and the callous cruelty of the Israelis. Lest anyone miss the point, many of his chapters have titles like “The Concentration Camp,” “The Night of Broken Glass,” “This Belongs to the White Man” and “How to Kill Goyim and Influence People.”

The hottest debate, though, isn’t over the book itself. It’s about a magazine column devoted to the book. It appeared October 16 in the left-wing weekly The Nation, whose publishing arm put the book out. It’s by Eric Alterman, the magazine’s sharp-tongued media columnist. Its title: “The ‘I Hate Israel’ Handbook.”

A prolific author, academic and liberal pundit, Alterman is regarded as a chronic Israel-basher by the Israel-right-or-wrong crowd, while devoted Israel-bashers call him a “member of the Israel lobby.” He stipulates that Israel’s “brutal occupation” inflicts “daily humiliations” on the Palestinians, but says Blumenthal “proves a profoundly unreliable narrator.” The book, he writes, shows “selectivity” toward truth. Its chapter titles are “juvenile,” its accounts “often deliberately deceptive.”

Book Salon Preview: Goliath, Life & Loathing in Greater Israel by Max Blumenthal – Part One: The Book

1:10 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Join the FDL Book Salon with Max Blumenthal, hosted by Edward Teller this Saturday at 2:00pm PST.

Max Blumenthal portraits

Firedoglake’s Edward Teller hosts Max Blumenthal book salon this weekend.

In 2009, soon after finishing his bestselling look at authoritarian underpinnings of the evangelical core of the USA’s militant new right, Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party, Max Blumenthal went to work on his next book.  He had actually conceived of the idea that became the framework of Goliath before he began writing Republican Gomorrah:

I conceived this book project before I even started my first book, Republican Gomorrah, and when I was beginning to refine the tactics that were working really well in exposing the radical right and the Republican Party. I was simply insinuating myself into the institutions of the GOP base, and into the gatherings this party would hold, getting to know people, trying to understand their mentality, and then following up with them. And making constant calls instead of relying on other people to do the reporting for me. From there, I’d conduct my own research and analysis and immerse myself in the history of the Christian right.

So what I set out to do when I made my first extended trip to Israel in May 2009, right after it elected its most right-wing government in history, is to insinuate myself into the major institutions of Israeli society.

The young author spent a lot of time in Israel and the occupied West Bank, assiduously chronicling, and interviewing, posting dozens of articles in magazines, online journals and blogs. Although Blumenthal continued to cover aspects of the far right in America, his efforts toward gathering the vast amount of information packed into the new book must have been a formidable task.

Four years later, what we have in Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel is simply the most detailed look yet taken at the increasingly racist, authoritarian and Xenophobic nation that Israel has become. The book’s narrative is relentless in its pursuit of detail. Interviews with contemporary political, cultural, religious and military figures are interspersed with well laid out chapters looking into the historical context of today’s events.

Divided into ten parts, and subdivided into 73 chapters, the book can be approached cover to cover, or tackled by looking at the subjects contained in the subdivisions. The ten divisions cluster chapter episodes related to a broader subject. For instance, Part V, What Lies Beneath the Forest, concentrates on the legacy of internal displacement of non-Jewish Palestinians within Israel itself. It contains five chapters, each of which looks at an aspect or ramification of this policy over the years:

The Days of ’48 Have Come Again looks at house demolitions of Palestinians inside of Israel, particularly the Lod ghetto, and in the occupied territories.  Blumenthal interviews several people who had their houses destroyed, often without warning.

The Blueprint goes back into the historical basis for internal displacement of non-Jewish residents of Israel, particularly the historically semi-nomadic Bedouins, 170,000 of whom are Israeli citizens. Looking closely at the writings of David Ben Gurion, back into the mid-1930s, Blumenthal demonstrates that the Zionist ideal has always and continues to regard the placement of their Bedouin citizens into concentration camps as a laudable goal.

The Summer Camp of Destruction looks at how a group of Jewish Israeli kids took a day off from summer camp in 2010, to help in the total destruction of the Bedouin village of Al Arabiq in the Negev.

Preparing the Land for Jesus ties into the preceding chapter, which as an aside, brings up the strange relationship between Zionism and millennialist Christian Zionism.  Blumenthal details workings of GOD-TV, “a Jerusalem-based cable television network that claimed to reach over half a billion people around the world with programming blending New World Order conspiracism with Greater-Israeli zealotry.” In essence, Blumenthal discovered that the founders of GOD-TV were partnering with the Jewish National Fund to plant over a million trees on the site or the demolished Bedouin village of Al Arabiq, and in the nearby rural areas. The author describes the development, since the 1980s, of ties between Israeli Jewish agencies, NGOs and non-profits, to American fundamentalist Christian Zionist groups.

There Are No Facts looks at the absurd Canada Forest project, culminating in the late 2010 Carmel area forest fires that killed 40 Israeli police cadets, among others. One of the best chapters of the book, it abundantly shows how nutty some of Israel’s land reclamation projects have been, how destined to failure they always were.

The five chapters of What Lies Beneath the Forest are a microcosm of the way the entire book is constructed — clusters of facts, history, interviews and encounters, showing the fatal shortcomings of Zionism’s paradigm.

Blumenthal, describing this aspect of the book’s thrust:

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