“A Response to Eric Alterman” by Max Blumenthal


"I am eager to debate the issues raised in my new book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel (Nation Books), the result of over four years of on-the-ground research and reporting. Whatever one’s opinion of possible resolutions of the Israel-Palestine crisis, I have dedicated my work to presenting the facts as clearly and accurately as I could. Without understanding the realities, no true debate can take place. In writing my book I intended to loosen the blockade of suppression of thought and discussion on the subject of Israel-Palestine. For years, especially since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by a right-wing Jewish extremist, a contingent of self-appointed enforcers has attempted to suppress an honest, free and full debate. These enforcers, recently aided and abetted by Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government, have painted critics who do not toe the party line or journalists who report uncomfortable facts as anti-Semitic, self-hating Jews or cheerleaders for terror. Readers of The Nation should recognize this kind of smearing as a form of McCarthyism."  Max Blumenthal


"a form of McCarthyism."  Amen.  pl







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23 Responses to “A Response to Eric Alterman” by Max Blumenthal

  1. Don Bacon says:

    The new anti-Semitism
    US State Department, Mar 13, 2008
    The distinguishing feature of the new anti-Semitism is criticism of Zionism or Israeli policy that—whether intentionally or unintentionally—has the effect of promoting prejudice against all Jews by demonizing Israel and Israelis, and attributing Israel’s perceived faults to its Jewish character.
    Aug 29, 2012
    California House Resolution No. 35
    WHEREAS, On July 20, 2009, the United States Senate unanimously approved a resolution that unequivocally condemns all forms of anti-Semitism and rejects attempts to rationalize anti-Jewish hatred or attacks as a justifiable expression of disaffection or frustration over political events in the Middle East or elsewhere, and decries the comparison of Jews to Nazis perpetrating the Holocaust or genocide as a pernicious form of anti-Semitism; . . .That the Assembly unequivocally condemns all forms of intolerance, including anti-Semitism, on public postsecondary educational institution campuses in California

  2. Norbert M. Salamon says:

    I hope that you, Colonel will revisit this topic, for my copy of Goliath did not arrive yet, so can not comment.

  3. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I was told that Israeli Army killed Rabin.

  4. Medicine Man says:

    Good luck, Mr. Blumenthal.
    The people you are taking on are really rough customers.

  5. MRW says:

    Colonel, how’s Lola?

  6. turcopolier says:

    She is home, and seems better. We are holding our breath. thanks. pl

  7. LeaNder says:

    Good, Lola is better.
    This is hardly surprising for anyone that watched the topic over the years, once emotions take over intelligence seems to drop steadily towards zero. Max’s article relies strongly on what the people he links to below wrote. Great:
    Max: Unfortunately, I cannot say that Alterman’s review of Goliath is technically accurate. Other writers have already carefully deconstructed his tangled mess of factual errors and deceptive claims: Phan Nguyen, Corey Robin, Ali Gharib, Ira Glunts and Charles Manekin.

  8. Robert C says:

    I ended my subscription to The Nation because of Alterman’s rabid allegiance to Israel.

  9. “These enforcers, recently aided and abetted by Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government, have painted critics who do not toe the party line or journalists who report uncomfortable facts as anti-Semitic, self-hating Jews or cheerleaders for terror.”
    This may be a case of what makes sense in terms of short-term tactical considerations risking a major strategic disaster.
    Back in April 2002, the veteran British Labour Party politician Sir Gerald Kaufman, a lifelong Zionist, made some memorable observations in a speech to the House of Commons:
    “It is time to remind Sharon that the star of David belongs to all Jews, not to his repulsive Government. His actions are staining the star of David with blood. The Jewish people, whose gifts to civilised discourse include Einstein and Epstein, Mendelssohn and Mahler, Sergei Eisenstein and Billy Wilder, are now symbolised throughout the world by the blustering bully Ariel Sharon, a war criminal implicated in the murder of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila camps and now involved in killing Palestinians once again.
    “Sharon is not simply a war criminal; he is a fool. He says that Jerusalem must never again be divided, yet it is divided in a way that it has not been for 35 years. I used to walk, shop and dine in east Jerusalem. No westerner or Israeli would dare to do that now. The state of Israel was founded so that Jews would no longer be penned up in ghettos. Now the state of Israel is a ghetto: an international pariah.”
    All the figures whom Sir Gerald mentioned are part of that great flowering of creativity which was unleashed by the emancipation of European Jews from the ghetto. All were intimately involved in the cultures of the countries where they were born, or settled.
    The child of immigrants who came here from Poland before 1914 – leaving behind a grandmother who was murdered as part of the mass extermination of the Jews of Staszow – he went from Leeds Grammar School to Oxford, and then into journalism, the BBC and Labour politics.
    Part of the point of his speech was to encourage Tony Blair to use what little influence he had with the Bush Administration to encourage them to do what the American Jewish community has consistently stopped American governments from doing: put the kind of pressure on Israel which might have made possible a two-state solution. This is something which strikingly few ‘liberal Zionists’ – in the United States as in Britain – have attempted to do.
    In the background to his remarks, I think, is the fact that Sir Gerald is all too well aware that very many of the traditional friends of Jews in Britain are precisely people – like myself – whose culture has been, to a greater or lesser extent, shaped by the kind of emancipated Jews to whom he refers.
    At issue in the background here, I think, is the fate of a very old Zionist notion – that the true, authentic Jew would be found, when Jews had been emancipated from the restraints of ‘Galut’.
    A problem is that, increasingly, Israelis do not look emancipated at all – rather, much of the country looks as though transplantation to the Middle East has left them, psychologically, still ‘penned up in ghettos’ – to use Sir Gerald’s phrase. And it is precisely among many of those who have been traditionally most friendly to Jews that this perception is strongest.
    Moreover, there is, quite patently, a degenerative dynamic. Those Jews who do not want to be ‘penned up in ghettos’ can leave Israel, and increasingly, are either doing so, or at least putting in place contingency plans to do so. Increasingly then the balance of Israeli society shifts towards those who are happy to live in a ghetto.
    Against this background, the attempt to smear critics of Israel as anti-Semitic, or to find casuistical means of avoiding taking on board the unpleasant truths someone like Max Blumental is telling about Israeli society, seems peculiarly bone-headed.
    The result is liable to be precisely the realisation of the nightmare which quite patently haunted Sir Gerald Kaufman more than a decade ago. If American – or indeed British – Jews define their identity in terms of Israel, and willfully blind themselves to what Israel is becoming, they may end up having to confront an appalling moment of truth, when they finally realise that the country on which they have placed their hopes has become a kind of ‘monster from the Id.’

  10. Fred says:

    “Truth is different from “facts.” ” Here come the excuses…..

  11. Edward Amame says:

    I haven’t read Alterman in years, since his early internet days on Altercation, so was a bit surprised by his smear of Blumenthal. There’s a good takedown of Alterman’s hit piece here by a fellow professor at Brooklyn College: http://coreyrobin.com/2013/10/19/eric-alterman-v-max-blumenthal/
    There’s background here on the apparently generational rift among progressive Jews over Israel: http://www.jeremiahhaber.com/2013/10/blumenthals-goliath-and-pep-critics.html
    …with guys like Alterman blaming the current state of Israel on their hard right wingers, while guys like Blumenthal believe it’s due to the “core Zionist principles of the Ben Gurion school.”

  12. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The Commons was almost empty when Sir Gerald made those remarks.

  13. Babak Makkinejad,
    The Commons works unsocial hours, and debates are commonly ill-attended – and the impact of statements is not, in this day and age, a function of how many MPs heard them. But in any case, the impact of Sir Gerald Kaufman’s remarks was not really my point.
    In Alterman’s objections to Blumenthal, as in so much discussion of Israel/Palestine, the issues are focused in terms of the apportionment of blame. But this is of limited relevance to the strategic dilemmas of the Israelis.
    The key point, which Blumenthal like Kaufman grasps, is that a Jewish settler state which cannot achieve some kind of modus vivendi with the Arab and Muslim worlds will necessarily be committed to indefinite conflict and repression. This has over time favoured the more brutal elements of Israeli society and is likely to do so to an even greater extent in future.
    Some of Alterman’s specific objections Blumenthal has convincingly rebutted. Whether others are more cogent I have not looked at the arguments closely enough to say. But what seems to me absolutely clear is that Alterman, like so many ‘liberal Zionists’, is deeply reluctant to face up to the dynamics which Kaufman and Blumental alike see very clearly.
    It is partly as a result of this that very many American – and also British – Jews have made Israel central to their concept of their identity, without grasping the extreme risks involved in so doing.
    These are partly to do with the perception of Jews by others. However they also relate to the very real possibility that once the denial of what has been happening to Israel becomes unsustainable, it may become quite considerably difficult to define a distinctively Jewish identity which civilised people can embrace.

  14. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I find the statement:
    “difficult to define a distinctively Jewish identity which civilised people can embrace.”
    Having had many classmates who were Jews when in primary school, I cannot comprehend what the word “Jewish Identity” could mean other than adherence to Judaism which for 2500 years has been tolerated in Iran.
    Embracing “Jewish Identity”, on the other hand, must be considered a personal matter of taste and inclination.
    I am aware of Jains but I do not think of them or obsess with them nor am I interested in “embracing” the “Jain Identity”.
    Civilization is far older in the East than in the West.

  15. Babak Makkinejad,
    ‘Having had many classmates who were Jews when in primary school, I cannot comprehend what the word “Jewish Identity” could mean other than adherence to Judaism which for 2500 years has been tolerated in Iran.’
    None of the figures whom Sir Gerald mentioned were characterised by ‘adherence to Judaism’, any more than are almost all of the Jews with whom I have known. Indeed, there have been as many Christians as believers in Judaism among my Jewish friends and acquaintances. Of the two Jews I knew who made it over here shortly before the outbreak of war in 1939, one was brought up as a Lutheran, the other as a Catholic.
    Before Hitler, European Jews had little in common – neither religious belief, nor political affiliation, least of allegiance to a dream of return to a ‘homeland’. What Hitler provided Jews with is something terrible in common, from which escape is liable to be peculiarly difficult.
    The result has been to provide what are essentially the most narrow-minded and bigoted of ‘ghetto’ Jews – the likes of Netanyahu and Adelson – with a pretext to attempt to assert their authority over those Jews who rushed out of the ghetto to embrace the wider world beyond. For reasons which I have no claim entirely to understand, most American Jews – and all too many of their British counterparts – seem prepared to acquiesce in this preposterous bid for power.

  16. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I must confess that I do not understand this notion of “Jew” that you are presenting.
    I have heard of genetic studies in this regard but I am not sure what that could imply either for we do not bear our genes on our foreheads.
    I can understand a claim based on an exclusive communal religion like Jains and Parsis.
    But I think you are writing of something that I do not understand.

  17. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Your wrote:
    ” For reasons which I have no claim entirely to understand, most American Jews – and all too many of their British counterparts – seem prepared to acquiesce in this preposterous bid for power.”
    This I perfectly understand – it is called “Assabiyah” in Arabic – a sense of tribal cohesion and solidarity.

  18. confusedponderer says:

    Trying to be succinct for a change:
    Alterman thinks that Bibi and brutes like him are following a wrong zionism. His is a kinder one.
    Blumenthal locates the problem in Zionism itself, with all the baggage that comes with it (brutalisation and dispossesion of Palestinians). He points out, based on the American example, that Jews don’t need a homeland to prosper in safety.
    In doing so, Blumenthal challenges Alterman’s Zionist identity which goes a long way to explain the violent reaction he elicited from Alterman.

  19. Robert C.! I believe the “Nation” was by a Zionist!

  20. From Wikipedia:
    The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. The periodical, devoted to politics and culture, is self-described as “the flagship of the left.”[2] Founded on July 6, 1865, it is published by The Nation Company, L.P., at 33 Irving Place, New York City.[3]
    The Nation has bureaux in Washington, D.C., London and South Africa, with departments covering architecture, art, corporations, defense, environment, films, legal affairs, music, peace and disarmament, poetry and the United Nations. Circulation peaked at 187,000 in 2006 but by 2010 had dropped back to 145,000 in print, though digital subscriptions had risen to over 15,000.[4] Print ad pages declined by 5% from 2009 to 2010, while digital advertising rose 32.8% from 2009–10.[5] Advertising accounts for 10% of total revenue for the magazine, while circulation totals 60%.[4] The Nation has lost money in all but three or four years of operation and is sustained in part by a group of more than 30,000 donors called Nation Associates, who donate funds to the periodical above and beyond their annual subscription fees. This program accounts for 30% of the total revenue for the magazine. An annual cruise also generates $200,000 for the magazine.[4] Since late 2012, the Nation Associates program has been called Nation Builders.

  21. Babak Makkinejad,
    It is a complicated matter, for various reasons. One is that many of us are commonly pulled in different ways – ‘Assabiyah’ pulls one way, other commitments in other directions.
    It is important to remember the immense, one might say magnetic, influence of German language and culture on Jews, not simply in what became Germany after 1871, but in the Hapsburg Empire and indeed beyond. In particular, many Jews embraced with passion not only German culture but that distinctively German concept of ‘Bildung’ – a conception of education which is also a kind of spiritual self-improvement.
    This intense identification with German culture – including some of the best features of that culture – commonly led in the direction of assimilation, and left the element of ‘Assabiyah’ very weak. This helped make many German Jews peculiarly unprotected, psychologically, when the society with which they identified turned on them. In the wake of the Holocaust, this background helps create very complex tensions between ‘Assabiyah’ and other loyalties among Jews.

  22. different clue says:

    I read somewhere that Britain was “Jewless” for several centuries before Cromwell invited Jews to come live in Britain. Is that correct?
    If so, which different countries did Jews come to Britain from? As of 1939, what percents of British Jews were descended from immigrants from what countries? Has anyone done any research?

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