“Goliath”, Rise of Racism and Right Wing Political Culture in Israel: NYT Needs to End Blackout on Blumenthal

Image: Author Max Blumenthal.

Max Blumenthal has a book coming out on the Gaza onslaught of last summer, called The 51 Day War, and it’s just gotten a rave review in Publishers Weekly:

Blumenthal’s (Republican Gomorrah) latest is a heart-wrenching narrative of being caught in the middle of wartime…. Blumenthal, who was on the ground for part of the offensive, bore witness to the loss of life, shelter, and possessions—but never hope—among Gaza’s Palestinian residents. His experiences in Gaza shed valuable light on the miserable living conditions there, while also fueling Blumenthal’s rebuttal to defenses of the strikes as justifiable responses to terrorism. He portrays Israel’s response as vastly disproportionate, particularly emphasizing the toll on Palestinian economic development. While vividly recounting firsthand experience and interviews with Gaza residents, Blumenthal also carefully charts the ascension of the right wing in Israeli politics and offers a jaundiced eye on the maneuvers of the Israeli government. The result is a harrowing, transfixing narrative of a people’s ordeal that will provoke and challenge any reader more accustomed to pro-Israel perspectives.

His book also got blurbs from Reza Aslan, Juan Cole, Avraham Burg, Pat Lang and Noura Erakat. Covering the waterfront!

But Blumenthal’s last book, the incisive Goliath, which bore witness to the rise of a militantly racist, right wing political culture in Israel, was virtually blacked out by American mainstream media. Chris Hedges and Andrew Sullivan got the story, but Eric Alterman attacked it in the Nation of all places, followed by Alan Dershowitz; and Terry Gross, who had interviewed Blumenthal when he went after Republicans in his first book “refused to have me on,” Blumenthal told Alex Kane, “and a lot of other hosts have just basically helped stitch the fabric of this curtain of silence.”

The New York Times in particular ignored the book. Even as the book went into a second printing. Even as the Israeli people confirmed Blumenthal’s reporting by going to the polls and electing the most reactionary government in Israeli history.

That blackout really ought to end. As it is, the Times is playing into its own irrelevance here. It runs happy-talk accounts of Israel’s willingness to talk peace, its chief correspondent claims that only a “small strain” in Israeli society wants to hold on to the West Bank– and meantime, practically every minister in government has declared Israel’s alleged right to Palestinian land and its new Foreign Ministry boss states on Facebook that it’s time for Israel to redraw the borders of Palestine.

This is Max Blumenthal’s great strength as an observer of the conflict. He and I have frequently disagreed about how bad things are; I’ve resisted his message, saying it can’t be that bad, Max.  But he’s been right time and again; he has a more accurate record than anyone else when it comes to predictions of the slope of Israel’s spiritual/political decline. He has never been taken in by the liberal Zionist propaganda, i.e., by an unconscious tribal identification with Ashkenazi elites; he’s bravely documented the currents of intolerance and fascism in that society going back five years to when he and Joseph Dana reported “Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem” and the American media suppressed it. It’s time Blumenthal’s view is engaged; it’s irresponsible not to engage it. Go ahead, take him on, disagree with him. But give him a platform. That’s the news from Publishers Weekly.

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

Articles by: Philip Weiss

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