Correction: This blog post contained an error in a quote from novelist Yoram Kaniuk, which was wrongly attributed to a Palestinian. The quote, which should have read, "Our entire existence in this Arab region was justified and is still justified, by our suffering; by Jewish violinists in the camps," was rendered as, “Our enemy’s existence in this Arab region was justified and is still justified by our suffering by Jewish violinists in the camps.” Also, regarding the incident in which an Israeli municipality shut down a Haifa café, Blumenthal wrote that the municipality "officially sanctioned the mob campaign," not “a mob campaign,” as was reported here. We apologize for the errors.
My new Think Again column is called “Heads, the Tea Party Wins; Tails, the Tea Party Wins.”
Here, unfortunately (and foolishly in my view) behind a paywall for now, is my Nation column, The “I Hate Israel Handbook.” A few words of explanation and clarification if I may:
When I was asked to do my column about Max Blumenthal’s book, Goliath, I was of two minds. On the one hand, I like to be a team player. But on the other, whenever I criticize BDS types, I apparently invite an avalanche of personal invective from its fans. (This happens when I criticize neocons on Israel as well, but to be honest, the BDS types appear to have more time on their hands for this kind of thing.) Second, I’ve known the author’s parents since he was a little boy, and whatever the quality of the book, I expected that my honest views of it might threaten three decades of friendly relations.
What tipped my decision was when I was informed that The Nation magazine would be publishing an excerpt. I don’t feel personally implicated by what Nation Books publishes—it does not reflect on me in the eyes of anyone I know—but the magazine is different. I’ve been writing here for more than thirty years and regularly as a columnist for nearly twenty. Hence I feel a deep sense of both loyalty and personal and professional identification. I don’t want people to have the impression that the reflexive anti-Zionism of some of its contributors is its only voice on the issue— one that is as important to me as any.
The complication arose when I finally received the book. I expected to disagree with its analysis. I did not expect it to be remotely as awful as it is. Had the magazine not published its excerpt, it would have been easy to ignore. It is no exaggeration to say that this book could have been published by the Hamas Book-of-the-Month Club (if it existed) without a single word change once it’s translated into Arabic. (Though to be fair, Blumenthal should probably add some anti-female, anti-gay arguments for that.) Goliath is a propaganda tract, not an argument as it does not even consider alternative explanations for the anti-Israel conclusions it reaches on every page. Its implicit equation of Israel with Nazis is also particularly distasteful to any fair-minded individual. And its larding of virtually every sentence with pointless adjectives designed to demonstrate the author’s distaste for his subject is as amateurish as it is ineffective. As I said, arguments this simplistic and one-sided do the Palestinians no good. There will be no Palestinian state unless Israel agrees to it. And if these are the views of the people with whom Israelis of good will are expected to agree, well, you can hardly blame them for not trusting them.