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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.”

All Things Considered Promotes Baldfaced Lie About New Iranian Foreign Minister

11:07 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

When I first heard this story start on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, I thought it was fair to incoming Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’, regarding his “Happy New Year!” tweet to the global Jewish community.

Here is what the foreign minister initially tweeted:

Happy Rosh Hashanah

Among the responders was Nancy Pelosi’s daughter. She replied:

Thanks. The New Year would be even sweeter if you would end Iran’s Holocaust denial, sir.

Zarif replied:

Iran never denied it. The man who was perceived to be denying it is now gone. Happy New Year.

In the NPR story, what got me piqued was when the expert being interviewed – Robin Wright truly is an Iran expert — in what seemed like something she was representing as a tweet quote, changed the nature of what the foreign minister had written in his reply to Pelosi.

Wright said in the NPR interview:

Iran never denied it.  The man who did is now gone.

That’s not what he tweeted.  Changing the phrase “The man who was perceived to be denying it” to “The man who did” is one thing.  For NPR to let this go by as they edited the segment is another.

Didn’t anyone realize the importance of Zarif’s perception of what Iranians have undergone because of the probably inaccurate portrayal of a recently term-limited bogeyman?

That such a formidable Iran expert as Robin Wright did this was probably intentional. If so, it shows well how much pressure media programs, pundits, anchors, stringers, editors and producers are under, as they seem to relentlessly push the violent action meme.

Neither Wright nor the interviewer, Melissa Block wants to be the next Judith Miller. But did Miller realize how fake the stuff she was putting on Team USA’s paper of record was from the beginning?

That’s history. What our media is doing now is reality, as fictional as their narrative is.

What’s the most bullshit example of media distortion or baldfaced lying you’ve witnessed so far?

“So far,” because things will ratchet up next week.

Did SNL Blow It By Not Running the Hagel Hearing Skit?

5:05 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

During Saturday Evening’s Saturday Night Live dress rehearsal, the cast tried this sketch, which parodies the obsequiousness shown by U.S. Senators toward Israel last week, during the confirmation hearing for former Senator Chuck Hagel, to head the Department of Defense:

The sketch didn’t run, but the show soon put it up on the web at HULU, where it was picked up by Huffington Post and Mondoweiss by early Sunday morning.

In comments and articles on the sketch, many are saying that the sketch wasn’t run because it wasn’t funny.  I didn’t watch SNL this week, but my wife did, and she says it would have been one of the funniest sketches this week, which isn’t saying much these days.  I think the audience may have at times been uncomfortable watching the sketch unfold before them.

Surprisingly, the funniest headline on it, even beating out Wonkette, was the Times of Israel, which put this in the headline:

Andrew Sullivan featuring the clip this morning in a piece titled  A Cultural Breakthrough, wrote:

After being banished from earnest Washington discussion for decades by various press gate-keepers, the absurdly overblown power of the Greater Israel lobby is now seeping into the popular culture. SNL captures the lunacy.

This does appear to be the case.  As Philip Weiss noted today:

Even friends of mine who don’t know the issue are fulminating about the Hagel hearing. And remember that those gatekeepers and lobby pooh-poohers included the Atlantic Magazine, David Remnick, Leon Wieseltier, Leslie Gelb, Walter Russell Mead, Jeffrey Goldberg, among other eminent journalists.

Weiss and others have noted within the past week, that the failure of Alan Dershowitz and his ilk to stop the Brooklyn College Global BDS talk last Thursday;  the Academy Award-nominated films Five Broken Cameras and The Gatekeepers getting major interviews, articles and reviews in media that too often in the past ignored important Palestinian and pro-Palestinian art; and attention being drawn to how much more interested Senators on the Armed Forces Committee are in Israel than the welfare of our soldiers and veterans, together mean more than a cultural breakthrough is at play here.

2013 is shaping up to be the year during which people will no longer have to carefully and guardedly talk about Israeli apartheid, but will finally be listened to, when they openly draw attention to Israeli Apartheid.

Watching the Breitbart-inspired campaign against Hagel’s “Hamas PAC” unfold, the SNL scriptwriters might consider keeping their pencils handy.

NPR Story on Interracial Dating c. 1963

3:31 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Imagine listening to National Public Radio back in 1963 – I know NPR didn’t exist until 1970 – and hearing this long, favorable report:

“Throughout Georgia, young White men are forming vigilante groups to end interracial relationships between Negro men and White women.”

What if the report had read, in its entirety:

There is a new enemy for some Southerners: Romance between White women and Negro men, and vigilantes have banded together to fight it. The vigilante groups are walking the streets and towns across Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi. The largest and most notorious is in the suburban neighborhoods that have sprung up in and around traditionally Negro towns. Reporter Sarah Palin joined one of the groups on patrol.

SARAH PALIN: The small, white Chevy Impala swings into a nearly deserted parking lot and does a quick look around. It’s just after 10:00 at night, and the lot is clearly a prime destination for a teenage date night in the suburban township of Forrestville. But Bubba Joe, a 31-year-old who lives here, is out for a different kind of prowl.

BUBBA JOE: Go down to that parking center. Stop, stop, one minute. That’s them over there. Check if there is a White girl in that car over there.

PALIN: Every night, BUBBA JOE, who asked not to be called by his real name, patrols this and other neighboring White suburbs and towns. His mission is to find White-Negro couples and break up their dates.

BUBBA JOE: My heart hurts every time I see a White girl with a Negro. It’s extremely upsetting. I asked myself: How did we get to this situation? How did we descend to this level? It is a serious step backwards, in our eyes.

PALIN: Bubba Joe is the leader of a group of vigilantes that goes by several names, including Fire For White Purity and Love of Youth. They say they number between 30 and 40 men and patrol the streets each night. Officially, they’re on the lookout for any mixed couples, but T.S.(ph) a member of the group who often serves as Bubba Joe’s driver, says the problem lies solely with Negro men dating White girls.

LONNY REB: These men approach the girl in a nice way. They buy her things. They build trust with the woman so that given some time, the girls just blindly follow them. And with time, one friend follows another, and soon enough, you have a commune made up of these kinds of girls.

PALIN: Comparable groups have formed across the country. In Mariott, an industrial city in Georgia’s center, the municipality has formed a special division to address what it sees as the problem of underage Negro-White couples. But in Forrestville, the couplings are an unforeseen byproduct of the growing number of White suburbs that have been built across largely Negro small farm communities.

The small stretch of benches outside Forrestville’s only soda fountain seems to be ground zero for teenagers here, no matter what background or race. Beverly Smith, a 16-year-old White teenager, says that she gets approached by Negro men every day.

BEVERLY SMITH: We were walking on our own to the soda fountain and a group of Negro boys drove by and were yelling at us, hey hot girls, and we didn’t pay them any attention. We aren’t interested in them. This happens to us almost three times a day, at least.

PALIN: But she and her friends understand why some girls decide to defy local norms and date Negro men.

BEVERLY SMITH: There are a lot of girls that go out with Negros because Negro boys are wild. They’re bad boys. Some girls like that. I think they like us because Pickaninny girls are all conservative and wear the covering on their hair and we dress normally.

PALIN: Bubba Joe says the mixed dating is a growing epidemic, one that his group hopes to stop by handing out explanatory 45-RPM records and mimeograph sheets to girls they call known-problem cases.

On one late night patrol, he spotted a White girl entering a car with several Negro men. He intervened, but was unable to persuade her to leave, and the car sped off, hitting his leg. For nearly 30 minutes he followed the car as it threaded its way through the serpentine hill roads that connect the closely packed White subdivisions and Negro farming areas east of Forrestville.

BUBBA JOE: Using physical force with the girls won’t work. Our goal is to talk to the girls and to convince them that their place is with Southern tradition and the White race, not with our enemies. There are four girls that we have intervened with and saved since we started. Even if we rescued only one girl, we have done our part. We have done a good deed, and we thank God and our friends in the KKK for it.

PALIN: Tonight, he gives up his chase when THE Georgia State Troopers agree to let him file a complaint against the driver of the car that struck him. He hopes that drawing attention to the incident will embarrass the girl and force her to leave her boyfriend. He says it’s one more girl he might save. For NPR News, I’m Sarah Palin in Forrestville.

That report wasn’t filed in 1963. But THIS ONE was, in October 2009. Sure, this isn’t the United States, it is a foreign country. But it is being reported by the so-called pillar of liberal media, National Public Radio. If you click on the link, you can read the report’s transcript. More telling might be to listen to the on-air podcast while reading my re-casting of this to the American South in the early mid-60s.

I can’t remember any report on NPR before that praised the efforts of vigilantes. This morning, Susie Knidler wrote a great takedown of the NPR report for Mondoweiss:

We’ve all wondered when NPR would investigate the bigotry underlying the Occupation and ever-growing colonization of Palestine. Yesterday, Morning Edition finally announced a piece on how groups of Israeli men roam streets, intimidating Palestinian and Jewish people who date each other. I looked forward to an expose’ of the thugs’ intolerance. Sadly, NPR spit out the opposite: a paean to the racism of those Israelis. Renee Montagne opens with the “news” that, “There is a new enemy for some Israelis: romance between Jewish women and Arab men, and vigilantes have banded together to fight it. The vigilante groups are walking the streets and towns across Israel. The largest and most notorious is in the Jewish settlements that have sprung up in and around traditionally Arab East Jerusalem.”

What does Montagne mean, “Jewish settlements” “have sprung up” amid “traditionally Arab” East Jerusalem? Montagne misleads listeners from the outset, declining to mention either the illegal Israeli Occupation of Palestinian lands or its continual theft and violence toward the people of Palestine. Just yesterday, the Israeli government demolished yet more Palestinian-owned buildings in East Jerusalem, without a peep from NPR.

NPR seems to be steering more and more in his direction. The most striking part of this segment to me was the barely disguised disdain in Sheera Frenkel’s voice as she narrated.

I know and know of several Israeli-Palestinian couples, either dating or married. They’re all so happy together.

What more could anyone want?