Max Blumenthal’s ‘Goliath’ and the Mainstreaming of Anti-Semitism

Blumenthal GoliathActivists devoted to promoting boycott campaigns against Israel and maligning the Jewish state as illegitimate and uniquely evil knew already what to expect when Max Blumenthal’s book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel was published last October. As Blumenthal himself emphasized in the acknowledgements at the end of his book, sites like the Electronic Intifada and Mondoweiss had “provided essential outlets for much of the reporting” presented in Goliath, while “less courageous publications” had “shied away” from publishing this material. What kind of “courage” it took to publish Blumenthal’s “reporting” on Israel was illustrated when the Simon Wiesenthal Center released its 2013 list of the “Top 10 Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel Slurs” at the end of December and included Blumenthal in the category “The Power of the Poison Pen.”

The Louis D. Brandeis Center (LDB) is publishing today a Research Article that provides a detailed documentation of Blumenthal’s efforts to depict Israel as an utterly evil state that can only be compared to Nazi Germany and should be treated accordingly. Entitled “Another Milestone for the Mainstreaming of Anti-Semitism: The New America Foundation and Max Blumenthal’s Goliath,” the paper highlights how inappropriate it is to promote a book on Israel by an author whose related work had been shunned by mainstream outlets for good reason. After all, Blumenthal’s writings and video clips not only appealed to activists campaigning for the delegitimization and elimination of Israel as a Jewish state, but were also promoted on all the major sites popular among conspiracy theorists, Jew-haters, racists and neo-Nazis: from Stormfront to David Duke’s site, Rense, and Veterans Today. Moreover, Blumenthal himself endorsed reviews that praised his book for presenting Israel as the Nazi Germany of our time, thereby arguably undermining the mainstream legitimacy bestowed on Goliath by the New America Foundation’s (NAF) unfortunate decision to provide him a platform for promoting the book.

Blumenthal at UPennWhile Blumenthal was perfectly capable to adjust his presentations according to the audience he was addressing, he provided a chilling demonstration of what he hoped to accomplish with Goliath during an event at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was hosted on October 17 by political scientist Ian Lustick to promote his book. Lustick noted at one point in the discussion that Blumenthal showed in Goliath that “Israel is not just a little bit fascist, Israel is a lot fascist,” and according to Lustick, this was the “ultimate delegitimizer,” because after World War II, “nothing fascist can even be allowed to survive.” Referring to the biblical story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha, Lustick invited Blumenthal to fancy himself in the position of God in order to decide whether there are enough “good people” in today’s Sodom-like Israel to save it from destruction. Blumenthal, who clearly didn’t need convincing that Israel as a Jewish state shouldn’t be allowed to survive, responded by explaining that his first concern was relieving “the suffering of the indigenous people of Palestine.” According to him, the only way to achieve this was by placing “external pressure” – such as the BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) movement is advocating – on Jewish Israelis in order to force them to choose between emigrating and agreeing to “become indigenized” by accepting Arab dominance in political, cultural and social terms.

This open call for the demise of the Jewish state and a “Juden raus”-policy for those of Israel’s Jews who would be unwilling to “become indigenized ”after the hoped-for victory of the BDS movement did not remain one of the many barely noticed events staged regularly by so-called “pro-Palestinian” activists, but was reported by the Forward’s J.J. Goldberg. Yet, there were no consequences, which arguably only illustrates the urgent need to fight the alarming deterioration of the debate about Israel on American campuses.

When NAF President Anne-Marie Slaughter was notified at the end of November that her organization’s planned event for Blumenthal had been criticized at Commentary as completely inappropriate, she dismissed the criticism by quoting the popular notion that the “best answer for speech is more speech.” Unfortunately, however, there was no attempt whatsoever to counter Blumenthal’s “speech” during the NAF event; instead, as was to be expected, Blumenthal received some mainstream endorsements after the event, most notably from veteran NAF board member James Fallows.

With the Research Article published today, LDB is providing the long overdue answer to Blumenthal’s “speech” by documenting that promoting his work on Israel ultimately means to contribute to the mainstreaming of anti-Semitism.


Max Blumenthal’s ‘Goliath’ and the Mainstreaming of Anti-Semitism — 26 Comments

  1. Hmm, so can someone tell me how this angle of attack is new?

    Once again we see attempts to use Nazi-inspired language from hard-right quarters of Zionist apologists to try and smear the BDS movement.
    Rudoren of the NYT compared BDS to Nazi boycotts and quoted a plethora of far right Israelis and just one Palestinians as a token gesture.

    This kind of avenue has been tried before.

    It has failed over and over. Yet Petra attempts the same thing in her faintly disguised attack-ad dressed as ‘research’.

    Petra, do you think this will work? Israel today controls the lives of 50% of the population in Greater Israel who are not Jewish. Their democratic rights range from the laughable(Arabs inside Israel, whose parties have never been allowed to sit in any political cabinet because the Jewish population fears this kind of democracy) to something that Haaretz’ Eva Illousz has branded as a form of slavery(the occupied territories).

    You may think that skipping over this and screaming NAZI NAZI NAZI will help.

    It will not. It hasn’t helped before and it will not help now.

    Until you come to recognize that you are an avid supporter of racial supremacism and Apartheid, you will never be taken seriously and neither will the kinds of arguments that you employ.


  2. I’m not “smearing” Max Blumenthal as an anti-Semite, I provide ample documentation that his work on Israel, including his book Goliath, promotes anti-Semitic discourse; and that Blumenthal intended to equate Israel with Nazi Germany in order to give a boost to BDS campaigns aimed at eliminating Israel as a Jewish state — a goal Blumenthal openly supports. I also show that his vision for what should happen with Israel’s Jews once this goal is accomplished amounts to a call for the ethnic cleansing of those Israel Jews who don’t want to “become indigenized” — a concept that reveals Blumenthal’s bigotry.

    If you want to contribute anything else to this debate, I suggest you read the paper and take the trouble to try to refute the arguments and material I present.


  3. David (2/18; 1.26pm): If you had read the paper — which apparently you didn’t — you would know that it’s not me who is “screaming NAZI NAZI NAZI,” but that it is Blumenthal who wants to make the case that Israel is the Nazi Germany of our time and should be treated accordingly. As I note in the paper, while definitions of anti-Semitism are contested, Blumenthal’s work on Israel would easily qualify as anti-Semitic discourse according to most widely accepted definitions.

    If you agree with him, you may simply be ill-informed about the realities in Israel and the Middle East, perhaps mislead by reading his work. Blumenthal himself obviously doesn’t have this excuse, since he claims to have spent some four years working on Goliath, including time in Israel; but of course, he makes no secret of what his intention in writing Goliath was.

    As to your various misconceptions about Israel, let me just point out that there is no such thing as “Greater Israel” and that well over 90% of the Palestinian population in Gaza and the West Bank live under Palestinian rule (Hamas/PA)- I would agree with you that their democratic rights are not what they should be, but you have to complain about that with Hamas and the PA. As to Israel’s non-Jewish citizens (of whom I am one), various polls have shown that the overwhelming majority are satisfied with living in Israel; polls also show that even Israelis who identify themselves as “Palestinian” are overwhelmingly opposed to the idea of living under Palestinian rule.

    But again, a debate here would really require you to read the paper and address specific points.


  4. Max Blumenthal is definitely an antisemite.

    He wants the world’s only Jewish state erased/destroyed. Specifically because it’s Jewish. He does not call for Arab states to be erased/destroyed. He does not call for Muslim states to be erased/destroyed. He only does this against Israel.


  5. I’ve struggled to understand the demonization of Irael and the motivation of people like Blumenthal; I can’t attribute it solely to anti-semitism, though there’s no doubt that anti-semitism plays a role in much of this demonization. I’ve come to believe that the attack on Israel has become a trendy pet project of the bankrupt left, a bankruptcy resulting from the complete collapse of communism.(Even 30 years ago, the left spoke of the working class and nationalisation of the means of production. Now, all that seems to remain of the left is the “socialism of fools.”)In the Middle East where tyranny and
    wholesale murder is common, the left focuses on Israel while ignoring everything else. With regard to Blumenthal, I suppose he is a representative of the non-Jewish Jew whose loyalty is to the left, not to the Jewish people. Nothing wrong with that, but guys like Blumenthal tend to flaunt their Jewish background as a cover for their alliance with anti-Americans, Islamists, leftist and rightist anti-semites. To paraphrase Lenin, Jews like Blumenthal are selling the rope that will be used to hang them.


  6. Your entire polemic against Blumenthal’s book is based in part on blatant fallacy and in part on an unquestioned and groundless assumption that no argument against the very principles of Zionism could possibly have any merit.

    Sure, some people whom we really don’t like happen to find value in the book. Therefore the book itself is worthless, indeed it must be judged to be as evil as we find those people are. How absurd. What utter sophistry. So sad for the hasbarists that they need to indulge in ad hominem drivel like this. When real arguments are hard to come by, that’s what you get.

    You seem to think that any argument or series of facts which result in “delegitimizing” the concept of a state which preferences Jews over its non-Jewish residents must be held to be intrinsically out-of-bounds.

    Again, very typical of the run-of-the-mill hasbarist. You can’t possibly grapple with anti-Zionism from a rational, factual or logical perspective. Instead you simply want to suppress all such talk. You rail against groups like NAF giving a forum to speech of this nature. Pathetic.

    You wail and moan that Blumenthal went unchallenged there. Oh please please please show up the next time and do put yourself on the line, and debate with him. Hs will wipe the floor with you. Keep telling yourself that’s not the reason you will never agree to any such debate.


    Petra Marquardt Bigman Reply:

    Your entire polemic against my paper is based in part on your blatant unfamiliarity with the arguments I make and in part on an unquestioned and groundless assumption that anti-Zionism never veers into anti-Semitism. I present detailed documentation and specific arguments that Blumenthal’s work on Israel, including Goliath, contains anti-Semitic material and promotes anti-Semitic discourse. You haven’t refuted any of my points. As to debating Blumenthal, I would be most happy to do so. That you think I wouldn’t is clearly another of your many groundless assumptions.


  7. The comment from Lenin seems to be actual, accurate and a good description
    of their behavior, Jews who sell, the rope that will be used to hang them.
    I saw a term, JOIN, to summarize these people Jews Only In Name.
    One of the things I think is central to these individuals is a sense
    That my great grand uncle said at Robert Moses. Though he converted, he was a Jew who Hitler could forgive.


  8. KM363, your silence in the face of Petra’s last post is cowardly. It’s absurd and mendacious to state that she would not dare debate Blumenthal. She has thrown down the gauntlet — now i suggest you go round up your Blumenthal and arrange a debate. ANd we’ll see who wipes the floor with whom….


  9. I would be delighted to see Petra debate Blumenthal. And not for the sake of seeing “who wipes the floor with whom” but for the sake of intellectual honesty. You have something to say? Say it with authority and grace and back up your convictions. I have no doubt that Petra can do that. I would like to see Blumenthal try.


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  14. So if Blumenthal wants the Israeli Jews to ‘“become indigenized” by accepting Arab dominance in political, cultural and social terms’, I would suppose he is ready to adopt Native American culture since most Americans came from somewhere else. Or maybe he is ready to go back to the shtetl his ancestors came from but it was probably obliterated in WWII. He can go even further back, and return to Middle East. Oh wait, Jews are a foreign presence in the Middle East. Guess he really has no place to go. If he cares so much about the mistreatment of indigenous people, look at his own country also. I know he can pick and chose his causes, so i guess he will understand why non Native Americans should be considerd settler/colonialists-guess he has something else in common with most Jewish Israelis besides the fact he was born a jew. Also, please dont respond that there are alot more Palestinians than there are Native Americans because I would have to remind you that the white European settlers to America slaughtered millions (actual number hard to determine) of Native Americans.


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  18. We are not the states we live in. An individual is not accountable for the collective history. However, the state is accountable. No comparison of states across time is useful in legitimizing or deligitimizing the present. No state can legitimize its atrocities based on the similar atrocities of another state. The overriding international consensus at this moment is the only litmus.


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