I have just finished Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel by Max Blumenthal. It’s written well enough to read in just a short week of a few sittings but this took me several weeks. For those unfamiliar with it, Blumenthal wrote about the day-to-day humiliations faced by Palestinians in Occupied Palestine and Jewish activists in Greater Israel.
What makes this so difficult to read is that it paints Israel as a Jewish state doing horrible things, not just in the name of Judaism, but by an entire population who does it just because they are Jewish. The insane fanaticism of the religious elite that rules every aspect of Israeli life (including towards those who are simply Jewish) provides an argument for anti-Semitism, as awful as that is.
For the longest time I have believed that what’s going on in Palestine is the work of Israelis and Zionists, Jewish and non. Now I have to reconsider my thinking and declare that it is the work of a select group of Jewish people who are Israeli. One would never think of Jewish people world-wide, and especially in the US, being so overtly racist and jingoistic as we see in Israel. Jews, especially in the US, have often been in the forefront of progressive, and even socialist, change. Whether it be with labor, education, feminism, etc., one could easily find Jewish leaders, past and present.
Blumenthal also paints an historical account, with deeply personal stories of the development of an all-Jewish state, the Judaization of Palestine, much like Hitler’s “lebensraum”. Every aspect of Israeli law goes to favor its Jewish population, as in denying building permits to Palestinians who have owned their homes for generations yet freely provide new settlements to new Jewish arrivals, often on confiscated Palestinian land. We see how, even in today’s newspapers, the extra-judicial killings of Palestinians, especially by settlers, go unpunished while nightly raids into villages result in the snatching of children to spend fearful days in Israeli prisons.
So much is not known about the history of Israel and Zionism that only the slogans serve as the historical lesson for the American market. “A land without a people for a people without a land” is as valid an argument as “they hate us for our freedom.” Stupid, clichéd, nonsensical, but it works. The enemies of Jews want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, according to those who inaccurately quoted Ahmadinejad of Iran. Wouldn’t it change one’s thinking of the moral superiority of Israel to know even why Hamas was founded, for example?
As Blumenthal said:
In the refugee camps of Khan Younis and Rafah, Israeli soldiers [under the command of Moshe Dayan in 1948] rounded up all men aged fifteen to fifty-five, herded them into open lots, beating many along the way with wooden clubs, then lined them up against concrete walls and executed them by the dozens. Israeli forces killed as many as 275 unarmed civilians in Khan Younis; days later in Rafah, the army massacred 111 more.
The streets of the refugee camps were left lined with long rows of dead bodies bearing bullet wounds in the back of their heads. During the massacre, a Khan Younis resident named Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi witnessed the execution of his uncle. Rantissi was just nine years old at the time. “…They planted hatred in our hearts.” When Rantissi came of age, he helped found Hamas, the Islamist military and political faction that currently rules the Gaza Strip.
The venom that we see spewing from the mouths of Israeli leaders and everyday citizens (many of them emigrants from the Soviet Union or the US) towards African refugees in Israel brings back horror stories of pogroms from the times of Czarist Russia. Members of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) openly call for the eradication of Sudanese and other non-Jewish Africans. Campaigns are launched persuading Jewish girls not to date or be familiar with them. Miscegenation seems to be the highest crime a Jewish person could commit. The entire political establishment, including from the ‘liberal’ Zionists, argue against the possibility of non-Jews outnumbering Jews, thus destroying the very idea of Zionism. This is one of the bases of the Judaization of Palestine.
Blumenthal is to Israel what Zinn was to American history. Everything we thought we knew about the formation of the State of Israel is turned on its head. As Zinn wrote from the perspective of those ignored in our traditional history books, Blumenthal writes from the Palestinian and Jewish non-Zionist activist’s point of view. As one who as a child, and a parent still engaged in it, put coins into the pushke for the Jewish National Fund, we thought we were planting trees in Israel to make the desert bloom. (Again, land without people.) Little did we know then, and few are aware today, that the purpose was to cover up the ethnically cleansed villages (Palestinian and now Bedouin) of all remnants of a people’s community or village with a forest.
It is obvious why this book is not getting the mainstream press coverage that it deserves. It is no surprise that people like Terry Gross of Fresh Air (NPR) would avoid having him on her show. When he eviscerated the Republican Party in Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party, he made the regular rounds of the ‘liberal’ establishment talk shows, including Fresh Air. The Israeli hasbara (government public relations, aka propaganda) has succeeded in a near complete rewording of the Zionist narrative in all mainstream circles, media and US government, which has pretty much blackballed any reference to Goliath.