Why Is the Mainstream Media Running Away From Max Blumenthal's New Book About Israel?
Max Blumenthal is a spot-on, tenacious journalist. He has a bevy of enthusiastic supporters, and a host of virulent pro-Israel "no matter what" critics. He has become a lightning rod for conservatives. Is it possible for right-wingers and AIPAC adherents to speak about his work without either blowing a carotid artery; or attacking him personally, huffing and puffing about his being "anti-Semitic," a self-loathing Jew, an anti-Israeli propagandist, and a bullying anti-Zionist? It doesn't appear it is.
That is a darn shame, because the work of Max Blumenthal -- an award-winning journalist whose on-the-ground reporting often shatters the confabulated wisdom of the Mainstream Media Misinformation and Disinformation Complex -- speaks for itself in its insights and fearlessness.
As Mondoweiss pointed out, Blumenthal's book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, which documents the growth of radical right-wing politics in Israel, did not get reviewed in the New York Times.
Typical of attacks from the pro-Israel media, Petra Marquardt-Bigman, a German-Israeli freelance writer and researcher, takes the slash-and-burn approach to Blumenthal and his work. In a recent blog post, she maintained that Blumenthal not only has "enthusiasm for Hamas," but that he seems to have an "uncritical acceptance of the terror group's propaganda."
Blumenthal's new book is titled The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza, and was published at the end of June. The book covers – as Blumenthal reported directly from Gaza at the time - Israel's aerial onslaught last year on the Gaza Strip, which killed more than 2,200 people, the vast majority of whom were Palestinian civilians, including over 500 children.
I know Max Blumenthal, but not well. Somewhere along the line, those of us reporting on the religious right exchange emails, and on occasion, actually run into each other. I'm guessing it was an email exchange.
Despite how critics attempt to cast him, Blumenthal is not a one-trick pony. Over the years he's reported on: the murder of hundreds of women in Ciudad JuÃ¡rez, Chihuahua, Mexico and how those deaths were connected to the policies of corporate interests in the border city; hunger strikes by undocumented migrants in privatized U.S. detention centers; the rise of the anti-immigrant Minuteman movement; and Sarah Palin's connection to the Alaska Independence Party among other diverse topics.
His 2009 book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party made The New York Times bestseller list, despite it not being reviewed the "paper of record."
Blumenthal is also a kind of pioneer of short video documentaries, in which he made his way into all sorts of conservative confabs and get-togethers, and allowed attendees to offer up their unadulterated opinions about the state of the nation. Folks were more than happy to tell him how effed up the nation was. Then Blumenthal would get asked to leave the premises, occasionally being escorted out.
In the video Generation Chickenhawk attendees at the July 2007 College Republican National Convention in Washington, D.C. were asked why they, as Iraq War supporters, had not enlisted in the United States Armed Forces. That same year, his short video Rapture Ready was about American Christian fundamentalists' support for the state of Israel. Blumenthal also exposed Israeli racism toward Palestinians in clips he shot there.
Some conservatives are still obsessing about Blumenthal's Republican Gomorrah, and cheerfully bringing Hillary Clinton into the picture. According to a recent Washington Free Beacon story, Alana Goodman cites e-mails from Clinton praising Max's book. In an email to Max's father Sidney Blumenthal, a long-time friend of and adviser to Hillary Clinton, dated September 11, 2009, Clinton describes the book as "great."
Blumenthal has numerous platforms available to him, and he has garnered a huge following. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, Salon, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, and The Guardian. Blumenthal contributes weekly articles to AlterNet where he has been a senior writer since September 2014.
Reza Aslan, a professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside, who is a nationally known author on religious issues and commentator on the Middle East, has said that Blumenthal is among "the most vital voices in journalism today, always speaking truth to power with fearlessness and integrity."
It remains to be seen how Blumenthal's new book will be received. In judging the work, will it be possible to "let a hundred flowers bloom," without the personal attacks? Stay tuned.