Does Palestine threaten Israel, or is it the other way around?

This question is at the core of journalist Max Blumenthal's writings about the Holy Land, and has earned him much controversy. Photo: Associated Press

OCALA, Fla., November 11, 2013 — In the Hebrew Bible, a young man aims to do the impossible. Armed with only a sling, but powered by an unbreakable spirit, he takes on a monster who is said to be as large as the sea.

To make a long story short, the youngster emerges victorious. Today, we know him as King David; the larger-than-life figure who reportedly united all twelve of Israel’s tribes. The monster is called Goliath, and his defeat serves as a metaphor for taking on perceived injustice at its worst. 

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Considering all of the above, it should be no surprise that veteran journalist Max Blumenthal’s new book is called Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel. His strong feelings about the Jewish state go far beyond the realm of criticism, or even skepticism. He is outright cynical about Israel’s past, present, and future.

Blumenthal’s chronicling life in the Holy Land has earned him powerful detractors. Chief among them leftish journalist Eric Alterman. There are several more, and the list seems to grow by the day. It should be noted that Blumenthal opponents come from both sides of the political spectrum.

So, what is Blumenthal’s beef with Israel all about? Let’s start with the nation’s settlement policies, which some say encourages violence from Palestinian militants.

“Though there were earlier iterations of it, the Palestinian armed struggle began in earnest during the Arab Revolt in 1936 in British Mandate Palestine in response to the colonial projects carried out by the British and by the Zionist movement,” Blumenthal tells The Washington Times Communities.

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“It continued after the expulsion of some 750,000 indigenous Palestinians in 1947-48, the so-called Nakba, and intensified after Israel began its occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip in 1967. Palestinian violence must be understood in the context of armed resistance of settler-colonialism throughout history, from the Indian Wars in the American West and to the ANC’s armed struggle in apartheid-era South Africa.

“Since 1967, Israel has destroyed over 26,000 Palestinian homes, according to the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions. It has also uprooted 800,000 Palestinian olive trees, enough to fill 33 Central Parks. This is a driving factor in the radicalization of Palestinian youth.  

“Many of the Palestinian suicide bombers during the Second Intifada had witnessed the destruction of their homes as children and suffered from Continuous Traumatic Stress Disorder (CTSD). There are many more who have chosen to resist home demolitions, land theft, and illegal settlement activity through unarmed protests and non-violent means. 

“In [Goliath], I profile the leaders of the unarmed Palestinian popular struggle against settlements and the separation wall, and document the repression they endure for borrowing Gandhian tactics, from long jail terms in military prisons without charges to encounters with soldiers firing barrages of teargas, rubber bullets and worse.”

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One frequent claim is that if Israel adopted its pre-1967 borders, then this would be a great contribution to the peace process. Does Blumenthal share this opinion? 

“Absolutely,” he says. “Unfortunately the peace process has never demanded that Israel withdraw to its pre-1967 borders, and has instead allowed the Israeli government to expand its presence deep into the West Bank, moving some 150,000 settlers there since the beginning of the Oslo Accords. 

“Under the Obama administration’s current proposal, Israel would keep huge swaths of land around East Jerusalem and may even maintain control of the Jordan Valley, where much of the West Bank’s arable land is. 

“It is also worth mentioning that not one cabinet level member of the current Israeli government favors withdrawing to pre-1967 borders or allowing a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. Instead, leading politicians like Economics Minister Naftali Bennett favor annexing most of the West Bank to deny the Palestinians a state and legitimize the settlement enterprise.”


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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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