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June 8, 2015 5:31 pm

No Truth in Advertising: Max Blumenthal’s New Book on Gaza

avatar by Petra Marquardt-Bigman

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Anti-Israel activist Max Blumenthal. Photo: Wikipedia.

Anti-Israel activist Max Blumenthal. Photo: Wikipedia.

With his last book Goliath published in fall 2013, Max Blumenthal hoped to popularize the antisemitic comparison between Israel and Nazi Germany. But he and his fans evidently feel somewhat frustrated: anticipating the publication of a new book by Blumenthal that accuses Israel of war crimes and wanton cruelty in Gaza, they now complain that Goliath “was virtually blacked out by American mainstream media” and demand in particular that the “NYT needs to end blackout on Blumenthal.” Blumenthal himself seems to feel strongly on this point and has repeatedly re-tweeted this specific demand.

Apparently, Blumenthal is not embarrassed that this demand comes from a website that has been described as a “hate site,” and which promotes anti-Semitic material. But for a writer who has built a reputation as a “gonzo journalist” and has fans on neo-Nazi forums and many other outlets that attract Jew-haters,  it’s perhaps best not to be too picky about where the cheers come from.

Despite his well-earned notoriety, Blumenthal has managed to get his new book endorsed by Reza Aslan, who is a professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside and describes himself as “an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions.” While Aslan is no stranger to controversy,  his endorsement of Blumenthal’s new book is not only noteworthy for the disreputable company he joins so willingly, but also for the rather preposterous claim that Blumenthal is among “the most vital voices in journalism today, always speaking truth to power with fearlessness and integrity.”

I first came across Aslan’s praise of Blumenthal – together with proof (if any was needed) of how ridiculous this praise is – when Blumenthal retweeted the advertisement for a talk to market his new book. Even if Blumenthal may not have provided the text for the announcement himself, his supposed journalistic “integrity” justifies the assumption that he at least checked it. In any case, the gushing announcement includes the false claim that “Max Blumenthal was in Gaza throughout this catastrophe” (i.e. the 2014 Gaza war). At Amazon, the announcement is a bit more ambiguous, but still misleading with the claim that “Max Blumenthal was in Gaza and throughout Israel–Palestine during what he argues was an entirely avoidable catastrophe.” The book description, again misleadingly, claims that “Max Blumenthal was on the ground during what he argues was an entirely avoidable catastrophe.”

If you write a whole book that you want to market as an “explosive work of reportage” about a recent war that lasted some seven weeks, it is of course tempting to claim that you actually witnessed what you “report” about. However, as Blumenthal himself stated when he “testified” at an anti-Israel kangaroo court in September 2014, he came to Gaza only “at the onset of a five-day humanitarian ceasefire on August 14.”

Interviews he gave towards the end of July identify him as being in Washington, D.C. So at least for the first two or three weeks of the conflict, Blumenthal was not “on the ground” in Gaza or Israel. He went to Gaza only some two weeks before the end of the fighting on August 26.

But once Blumenthal entered Gaza on August 14, it took him just a few hours to “report” via Twitter that “Shujaiya [a Gaza neighborhood] is not a war zone, it is a crime scene. And evidence is plentiful.”

For a professor of creative writing, that may sound very good, though it obviously reflects more creativity than serious reporting or journalism. Blumenthal may well have conceived his new book right then and there, in his first few hours “on the ground” in Gaza; in any case, the indictment of Israel that is the book’s main message was formulated already in the evening of Blumenthal’s very first day “on the ground” in Gaza.

Needless to say, Blumenthal didn’t mean to implicate Hamas when he called the Gaza neighborhood that the terror group had turned into its heavily fortified stronghold “a crime scene.” While Blumenthal was safely “on the ground” in the U.S., Hamas used the neighborhood to fire some 140 rockets into Israel. Considering the amount of weapons and terror infrastructure embedded in the densely populated neighborhood, it would indeed be entirely appropriate to describe it as a “crime scene.” But as far as Blumenthal is concerned, it was of course Israel that was committing the crime when it defended its citizens against the rocket barrages and terror attacks launched by Hamas from this and other civilian neighborhoods in Gaza.

On the other hand, it seems that for Blumenthal, Hamas – a terror group with a genocidal fascist charter – can do no wrong. When a Palestinian acquaintance or friend quoted Blumenthal on Twitter as saying: “If I was Palestinian I would want to live in Gaza, where true resistance is,” Blumenthal retweeted the statement.

This tweet not only indicates Blumenthal’s sympathies for Hamas, but it also tells us that Blumenthal had left Gaza by August 22. So it seems that during the war, he spent just one week “on the ground” there, and even though the Israeli army had withdrawn its ground forces almost ten days before Blumenthal arrived in Gaza, and despite the fact that there was a ceasefire for most of his stay there, the book description claims that “Blumenthal brings the battles in Gaza to life, detailing the ferocious clashes that took place when Israel’s military invaded the besieged strip.”

So getting an endorsement from a professor of creative writing was perhaps entirely appropriate.

But while Blumenthal apparently tells tales of “ferocious clashes” in his new book, he indicated in March that he felt Hamas fighters had an easy time when he used a social media PR effort by Hamas to ask on Twitter: “Why did the elite Golani Brigade retreat in fear when young men in Shujaiya came out to defend their homes?”

Once again, this tweet illustrates Blumenthal’s enthusiasm for Hamas and his uncritical acceptance of the terror group’s propaganda. But there is a series of tweets Blumenthal himself helpfully collected on Storify that provide an even more revealing glimpse of his admiration for the “resistance.” He apparently returned to Gaza shortly before or after Hamas finally accepted an open-ended ceasefire (on terms almost identical to those offered by Israel already soon after the start of the fighting in July) and documented the subsequent “victory rallies.” In one of the tweets, Blumenthal describes the Al Qassam Brigades spokesman mocking the Israeli army as “losers” who failed to defeat the Hamas fighters – and this is, of course, exactly the message Blumenthal echoed in his #AskHamas tweet in March of this year.

There are many other examples of similarly revealing echoes of Hamas propaganda, including one tweet from the same series where Blumenthal claims that Israel destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza “as part of strategy to turn Gaza’s educated middle class against Hamas. State terror.” Of course, Blumenthal completely ignored the Israeli army’s stated reason for targeting the building – it was “a center of terror activity” that “housed several Hamas operation rooms.”

But as far as Max Blumenthal is concerned, Hamas is just a noble “resistance” movement rightly admired by many Palestinians, while Israel is a monstrous terror force that should be rejected by the whole world. Whether it is equating Israel with Nazi Germany or with the terror group Islamic State, or, most recently, endorsing the preposterous conspiracy theories of an utterly discredited writer who fantasized that Israel is “allied” with Al-Qaeda, Blumenthal can always be relied upon to translate the Nazi slogan “The Jews are our misfortune” into its 21st-century version: “The Jewish State is our misfortune.”

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  • Bobby

    Reza Aslan is a very creepy man. Not surprising that he involved in this equally creepy man.

  • Simon C

    Oh these comments tho. LOLOLOL> You’re all a bunch of nutters. LOL

    • walt kovacs

      what is it that makes them nutters? that they dont take the word of a man whose most recent claim to fame is chasing an old man into a toilet?

  • Jake Steiner

    Blumenthal has no credibility. The best action is to ignore him because he craves the attention and the more he gets attention from Jews for being anti-Jewish the more people like Reza Aslan love him.

    Aslan, FYI, is ONLY a professor of “creative writing” — meaning FICTION. FICTION is what creative writing is, and fiction is all that Aslan spouts. I have listened to him on “progressive” news shows. He’s a slick, self-promoter, not a thinker. On the left in the US, if you are critical of Israel then you are a deep thinker. Take Mika Brzezinski as an example. She is such a pseudo-intellectual with her contempt of Israel. Contempt for Obama’s antisemitism would show some thinking on her part. But the again, her family is right in there with Jimmy (the anti-Semite) Carter. Another twisted individual. Only Obama has been as weak and ineffective a president. These people are so transparent with their political agendas.

  • Rashi Rosenzweig

    From what I’ve researched, for the record, Max’s mother Jacqueline Jordan is not Jewish.

    Rendering him..guess what(??)..a goy!! So, Max is nothing but a common anti-Semite with a very Jewish sounding name. Go figure.

    • Gary Katz

      It doesn’t matter if he’s Jewish, because some Jews are rabid anti-Semites (why, I don’t know). Chess champ Bobby Fisher was born Jewish, and he hated Jews – a total screwball.

  • Moby

    What is really scary is that Hillary Clinton’s email records show that Max’s father was forwarding Max’s work to the Secretary of state and possible future president. Given max’s association with Hizballah when he worked for their newspaper, Al akhbar, and his association with Hamas outlined above, I find it terrifying that terrorists might gain access to sensitive information via the Blumenthal family ties to the Clintons.

  • if this asshole is near me i will punch him in the nose.

  • I hope it will be appreciated how valuable your exposure of the contradictory media reports associated with Blumenthal are to those of us who struggle to understand the strategies of international reporting. Two or more disparate forces will often fail to publicly address issues and suppress debate if they determine this strategy might keep others’ concerns from public view. The resulting Silence can be deafening.

    This phenomenon seems to be particularly noticeable as matters of personal or national identity become associated with claims involving natural resources. The “Big Guys” (whether governmental or corporate) separately hasten to impose the Silence, regardless of the merit of their vocal minorities.

    I didn’t know about the Silence when in 1948, after suffering disabilities caused by wartime conditions in Glasgow, I was placed in a “special needs” Class 2F/H (Second year French/Hebrew) at Queen’s Park Senior Secondary School. More than half of the students in my class were refugees from Eastern Europe, and their talk of achieving freedom in Israel inspired me. I’d been reading Sir Walter Scott’s novels during the times I’d been bedridden, and now it didn’t take me long to join my “special needs” companions in dreams of freedom. But I was beoming aware of the Scottish Silence where the only approved patriotism involved pride in The Empire.

    In 1952 and 1953 I started disrupting arrangements for the celebration of the Coronation by attempting to destroy QEII symbols anywhere they appeared. It was only after I took part in a gun heist (meant to destroy rifles the authorities might use against nationalist demonstrators) that I began to realize we were fighting against the Silence. Although the police did succeed in arresting one of our raiders there was almost nothing in the newspapers.

    The National Secretary of the Scottish National Party had befriended me; he told he was leaving Scotland because he’d heard there might be more arrests associated with the heist. He advised me seriously to leave too. My exile – and the Silence – has now lasted 70 years. I now live in New Zealand.

    I recently wrote a memoir, RETIRED TERRORIST (Trafford Press, 2011) and again the Silence prevailed. No Scottish publication acknowledged it or reviewed it. But – miracle of miracles – Scots are reading it – and some are talking about re-establishing nationhood. There have been plenty of clashing opinions (a la Blumenthal?), but others are breaking the Silence. Thank goodness for the new sounds of freedom.

  • Why do you guys even waste time and energy reporting on this nut ball
    It is patently obvious that there is something wrong with him and really does not even deserve the time of the day
    Leave him and if he is good enough for the NYT to blackout then it really shows we are wasting time on him

    • Jake Steiner

      Entirely agree. Don’;t give him the light of day. He’s just wants attention any way he can get it and he’s not a reputable journalist. A nutcase.

  • Bullfrog

    Probably a good idea to expel Blumenthal from the U.S., and give him honorary Gazan residence.

  • Pinchas Baram

    Max Blumenthal is a traitor and enemy of Israel. We all know that. In fact, he loves and thrives in this notoriety. Personally, I curse him and hope God destroys this kapo dog soon.

  • Ken Kelso

    Let me put another Pallywood lie Max claimed happened in the Gaza war last summer.
    Max claimed Israeli soldiers in Gaza went to Palestinian houses and asked the people in the house if any Arab spoke Hebrew. Max claimed that some of the Arabs said they spoke Hebrew to the Israeli soldiers and the Israeli soldiers then shot and killed these Arabs.

    This is the biggest lie in history since the Jenin massacre Hoax.

    Max didn’t tell you Hamas executed Palestinians who were accused of being Israeli agents because they could speak Hebrew and had Israeli mobile phone SIM cards.
    The executions were by Hamas.

    This is nothing new for Max lying.
    In 2011 Max claimed that foreign workers committed the Itamar massacre and not the Palestinians.
    Just Google the article.
    After Itamar: Exploring the cynical logic that makes everyone a target
    Max Blumenthal on March 15, 2011

  • art frank

    This is one sick creature. But there have been other mentally imbalance Jews who hate their own people. You have to question those who publicize his rants.

  • art

    I believe that Max is the son of Sidney Blumenthal, friend and confident of the Clintons and author of those “advisories” to Sec State Hillary. He certainly taught his son well

  • Jack Holan

    Now Max Blumenthal you know just like us how it feels to be stigmatized. You will really know the gig is up when you have to start to self-publish! I hope that day arrives soon, in your case.

  • manley kiefer

    There has to be some terrible, dark secret in his psyche that explains his vehement, irrational ire toward Israel and his Jewish brethren. He must have a very tortured existence.

  • Golum

    Algeimeiner…How can you even publicize this “Piss-Ant Anti-Semite???”

  • Bongo

    I should live so long as to urinate on his grave.