Wednesday, October 23, 2013

There is a great blog called "Bad News from the Netherlands." The point is to publish every single story that can make the Netherlands look bad, without any balance or context, to show that in the aggregate the methods used by Israel-haters to delegitimize Israel can be used against literally anyone. Looking at only that blog, you would conclude that the Netherlands is a racist, crime-ridden state that flouts international law and has no redeeming characteristics.

Max Blumenthal does exactly the same thing in his latest book about Israel - except he is far less objective than that blog.

Blumenthal's anti-Israel screed is called "Goliath." From what I can tell he took every possible activity by every possible Israeli Jew that can be remotely construed as negative, adding some hyperbole and eliminating context, and threw it into a book that is being hawked by the usual misozionistic crowd as evidence that Israel is rotten to the core.

While "Bad News from The Netherlands" only copies news stories, Blumenthal layers his hatred for Israel onto every incident, every anecdote, every piece of hearsay that he can find - as long as it makes Israeli Jews look like fascists (a word that he repeatedly associates with Israel in the book, as the index indicates.)

I decided to browse a little on the Amazon preview of the book, and saw this little non-anecdote on page 42:
Before any trip to Israel-Palestine, I receive a dizzying array of advice from jour-nalist and activist friends on how to pass through Israeli security with minimal harassment. A Jewish-American writer for a Palestinian diaspora publication told me she always wore blue-and-white clothing—the colors of the Israeli flag—and a gold Star of David necklace, and flirted openly with security officers of the opposite sex. A left-wing Israeli activist advised me to behave in an irritable, churlish fashion, blurting out terse responses to questions from security officers to avoid creating the perception that I was overcompensating for any "anti-Israel" intentions. Other journalist friends warned me to erase any and all Arab contacts from my phone, and to delete any material I had published about the Israel-Palestine conflict from my computer hard drive. They reminded me about Lily Sussman, the twenty-one-year-old Jewish American college student detained in December 2009 by the Shin Bet at Israel's border with Egypt because she was carrying suspicious items, such as an Arabic phrasebook. After two hours of intense interrogation, a baby-faced Shin Bet officer appeared to inform Sussman,"I'm sorry, but we had to blow up your laptop:' He then handed her a Macbook riddled with bullet holes. Luckily for Sussman, the bullets missed her hard drive.

After deciding that I was too lazy to purge my computer and cellphone of Arab contacts, I concluded that I had nothing to hide and that the Israeli intelligence services could not possibly be foolish enough to treat me as a security threat. I then reminded myself that I was an Ashkenazi Jew who would be automatically afforded special rights according to the designs of Zionism.

My Jewish privilege would be borne out during many trips in and out of Ben Gurion Airport. Whenever a security officer greeted me with the requisite opening question, "Are you Jeweesh?" I have learned to casually respond, "Of course." If I were ever asked if I had any Israeli family, I would tell them about all my imaginary cousins in Tel Aviv or about my imaginary Israeli girlfriend. "Are you thinking of marrying your girlfriend," a young female security officer asked me once., sure am!" I said with a bashful smile, bringing a satisfied grin to the face of the officer. Because the maintenance of a Jewish demographic majority is Israel's national priority, the production of Jewish babies is a key national priority. With my promise to inject top-grade Ashkenazi Jewish sperm into the ovum of a young Jewish Israeli woman, I was marked with a level-one security classification.

Each time I reach the kiosk at passport control on my way into Israel-Palestine, I do my best to appear calm, and even a little bit bored, while the officer examines my documents. With bated breath I wait for the loud thump of the metal visa stamp when it meets the pages of my passport. Only with that noise will I know that I have gained admission through the fortified frontiers controlled by Israel. As a sense of relief washes across my body, a single thought enters my mind that is constantly reaffirmed throughout my time inside Israel-Palestine: I am a lucky Jew.
Blumenthal admits that he travels to Israel often. He admits that he has never had a problem entering Israel. He admits that no one ever looked at his cell phone or computer.

Yet he spins a tale of nervousness, of suspicion. He gratuitously makes fun of the Israeli accent. (Would he ever do that to an Arab?) He pretends to know that the polite reaction to his lie about wanting to marryhis fake Jewish girlfriend is proof of Israeli bigotry. (I have no idea what a "level-one security classification" is. I'm pretty sure he made it up, something he has done before.)

And, of course, his repeated easy entry into the country only proves how terrible Israel is. Yet for some reason, every single time he is about to visit Israel, his friends keep offering advice on how to avoid the inevitable harassment.

This gives a small inkling of how skewed Blumenthal is.

To be fair, he does mention the case of Lily Susskind. I don't know what happened there.  It certainly sounds bad from his telling of the story. Clearly her "Jewish privilege" didn't protect her as Blumenthal claims it protects him.

Of course, Blumenthal - who pretends to be a journalist - doesn't bother to try to find out what really happened from the perspective of Israel's security. He implies that Susskind's Arabic phrasebook and equally innocuous items are the reason she was detained. What he doesn't mention is that Susskind was living in Egypt at the time.

Plus she had  a visa for Syria on her passport. A country that Israel is technically at war with.

Plus a hand-drawn map of Jerusalem.

Plus a photo on her phone of a graffitum saying "Fuck" next to a Star of David.

But to Blumenthal, the Arabic phrasebook is the only thing worth mentioning as an unreasonable excuse for her to be questioned.

His intent isn't to document reality, but to propagandize.

If he would have been honest, and told that story straight with context, then we can be properly upset at what appears to have been a gross overreaction on the part of the border officials.  I confess I don't understand why, if Susskind was considered safe enough to enter Israel, they had to (almost) destroy her computer.

Israel isn't perfect by any means, and it has to deal with problems that no other country has to worry about. I would find it hard to believe (in the absence of any other information) the the people who shot her laptop would remain in their jobs if this incident would have been pursued.

When 18 year olds are forced to grow up fast to help defend their country, sometimes they do very inappropriate things that would be considered normal pranks on any college campus. This doesn't justify it, but the country is a pressure cooker and blowing off steam is inevitable. It is not evidence of "fascism."

Nevertheless, even with all the pressures and insults and haters targeting the Jewish state, Israel consistently tries to improve. An honest journalist would mention that.

But Blumenthal isn't honest. He isn't a journalist but an Israel-hating ideologue who is willing to play fast and loose with the facts to get his point across.  He doesn't want to expose problems so they can be solved, he wants everyone to hate Israel as much as he does. He doesn't want to improve the Jewish state, but to destroy it.

Which is pretty much all that you need to know about this book.



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