JANUARY 02, 2014
An Interview with Max Blumenthal
Inside Israel’s Apartheid State
by JOSHUA FRANK
Journalist Max Blumenthal’s latest book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel has been one of the most controversial and enlightening books of 2013.
It’s a fearless, no holds barred take on life in Israel and the brutal occupation of Palestine. Needless the say, not all have been happy with Blumenthal’s take on Israeli culture and politics. I recently caught up with Max to discuss his new book and the backlash he’s received from the pro-Israel coterie. -JF
Max, seems your latest book Goliath has really caused a stir among right-wing Zionists and other liberal defenders of Israel, like your Nation colleague Eric Alterman. What’s all the fuss about?
: Goliath is the first on-the ground, journalistic portrait of the real Israel that has been whitewashed and covered up by the mainstream American media.
The book reveals a society overrun with extremism, with open racism emitting from the highest levels of government, inspiring anti-Arab and anti-African riots from the West Bank to Tel Aviv while the siege of Gaza deepens. Many of the pivotal events I detailed at length through background research and first-hand reporting were buried or ignored by the New York Times and have scarcely been examined even in progressive American media.
The atmosphere I captured in the pages of Goliath is the one that veteran Israelis from Uri Avnery to former Maariv editor Amnon Danker to former Haaretz editor-in-chief David Landau have described in no uncertain terms as fascistic. Through the experience of almost a year on the ground in Israel-Palestine, I was able to capture the feeling of the atmosphere they described and to bring it to life on the pages of my book. Obviously, pro-Israel zealots were not terribly happy about this.
There was also the fact that I did not write Goliath with concern for Israel’s anguished “soul,” or with any abiding belief in the absolute necessity of a Jewish state; that I did not advance the fantastical notion that the Israel that exists behind the 1949 Armistice Lines is a vibrant democracy. And I refused to pay lip service to the idea that the Palestinians were partially at fault for their own dispossession — that “both sides” were responsible for the crisis. This is what you are expected to do if you wish to cater to Jewish-American opinion from a liberal perspective.
I refused to take this approach not only because I reject the Zionist narrative but because it is deeply dishonest and actually requires intellectual contortions about the present and the willfull distortion of the past.
That my book managed to gain traction despite my rejection of the established liberal Zionist narrative framework was another reason so many viewed it as threatening...
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