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Blumenthal

Notes towards a theory of Max Blumenthal

As half a million souls have evaporated into smoke, largely at the hands of the Assad regime, Max Blumenthal instructs his readers to be suspicious of the organizations dedicated to putting a lid on the suffering.

He performs this by making a few salient points about the problematic nature of NGOization, funding channels and influence of big powers which tend to haunt aid organizations everywhere, particularly those operating in desperate situations. He goes on to point out that those organizations are toeing the line of Washington’s foreign policy elites who are calling for an NFZ in order to overthrow the regime.  Of course, one needn’t wonder if maybe, just maybe, the countless barrel bombs, cluster bombs, chlorine bombs, thermite bombs and bunker busters may have anything to do with compelling one to calling for an NFZ.

I don’t have to rehearse the criticism made but you can read Scott Lucas’ forceful rebuttal to his piece here and others’ here.

What I’m interested in what went on in his head before he sharpened his pencils. What is the purpose of transforming aid organizations during the time of war and genocide into objects of scrutiny and suspicion? Who does that serve?

The task is made difficult once one recalls that Blumenthal, after all, used to be one of us—that is, on the side of Syria’s democrats and revolutionaries. In 2012, he resigned from al-Akhbar over what he called the “newspaper leadership’s pro-Assad tendency”, pointing out that:

Yet the mere existence of Western meddling does not automatically make Assad a subaltern anti-imperial hero at the helm of a “frontline resisting state,” as Ghorayeb has sought to paint him. Nor does it offer any legitimate grounds for nickel-and-diming civilian casualty counts, blaming the victims of his regime, or hyping the Muslim Threat Factor to delegitimize the internal opposition . . . Besides exploiting the Palestinian cause, the Assad apologists have eagerly played the Al Qaeda card to stoke fears of an Islamic takeover of Syria . . .In joining the Assad regime’s campaign to delegitimize the Syrian opposition by casting it as a bunch of irrational jihadis (ironically, they seem to have little problem with Hezbollah’s core Islamist values), Assad’s apologists have unwittingly adopted the “war on terror” lexicon introduced by George W. Bush, Ariel Sharon, and the neocon cabal after 9-11. Not only have they invoked the scary specter of The Terrorists (gasp!) to justify morally indefensible acts of violent repression . . . “

What bothers Blumenthal today isn’t the somewhat common silence or apologia for Assad and Putin in alt-journalism and left-wing circles, nor is it the ongoing intervention of Russia, Iran and sectarian militias on behalf of a brutal regime. What bothers him is a hypothetical regime change operation undertaken by the United States. These are classic, even caricatural, tropes that he railed against not too long ago.

Enquiring minds wish to know: how can someone who has stood on the side of justice consistently suddenly barbarize themselves this quickly?

“The great Indian disaster of 1947 has barely entered the public consciousness. Distance, and a sense of helplessness, presumably account nowadays for this seeming indifference, just as they account for the relative calm that greets the news from Nigeria. What can one do about it, and who cares about dead African babies anyway? Certainly not the New Left: its leaders have not uttered a sound on the subject. But then there is no political mileage to be got out of a conflict which opposes Africans (with some foreign backing) to each other. As for morality, we all know by now what the Realpolitiker of the New Left (not to mention the Old Right) think of such sickly bourgeois sentiments.”—George Lichtheim

If it has been said that the institution of slavery is war and can only be defeated by war, the same can be said about the Assad regime. No serious observer thinks that Assad will cede an inch of power to the opposition without military defeat or threat. The regime has made up its mind about a Final Solution a long time ago. “Assad or we burn the country” as a pro-regime graffiti encapsulates the logic.

Blumenthal is forcefully aware of all of this. In fact, he’s written about it and has likely concluded that the war of extermination will continue unabated unless there’s some limited form of foreign intervention.

But he’s grown torn between maintaining an internationalist commitment to Syrian democrats and the fear of being in the bad company of neocons. It’s clear that Blumenthal simply sees no other way—or lacks the confidence to do so—to appear to be in such bad company without compromising himself morally.

Knowing this, he inserts his head and hands into the pillory. Thinking to himself that only by earning the scorn of neoconseratives—whom he could represent as the spear of the backlash—can he turn himself into a victim deserving commiseration and, in his mind, self-exoneration from the guilt of silence. And here’s something he could really believe in. But what he doesn’t know is that in the process he has doubly compromised himself by turning the figure of the neocon into a straw man that can be hung over the head of the defenceless and their advocates in the West.

Hence why I don’t think what he wrote is journalism. It’s an exercise in a sort of secularized Catholic penance for the white man’s burden. In other words, he has contrived an all-too solipsistic performance of self-flaeggelation that has effectively shut Syrians’ voices out, hence why he didn’t interview a single Syrian for his piece. The issue isn’t what Syrians think, the issue is that John McCain happens to agree with some of their demands.

Blumenthal wants to have it both ways. He, and his contemporaries, think they can sustain a politics of Realpolitik while avoiding the impression that they are callous. He wants to maintain the commitment of refusing a compromise with U.S. imperialism in a world far from ideal (such virtue! such courage!) while avoiding an uneasy conscience. Why call for some form of limited intervention when it can fail and perhaps haunt your career forever? After all, it’s only dead Syrians.

“I was right to be wrong, while you and your kind were wrong to be right”—Pierre Coutrade

But he sees a bigger payoff with what he’s written. He’s banking on the likelihood that sooner or later the United States and its European allies will intervene to put a halt to the carnage that is tearing not just the Middle-East apart, but at the very fabric of European democracy. In other words, he wants the United States to intervene.

That is the only way he can be redeemed for what he wrote. And when that happens, he’d like to be there to tell us that despite his Machiavellian cynicism that was fiercely criticized, he was right all along. He has crucified himself on the cross, and like the Christ’s body, he carries within him the prospect of redemption. In his mind, he may be wrong but he’s wrong for the right reasons.

Cynical, right?

It is worth noting that Christopher Hitchens took such a gamble too when he decided to support the invasion of Iraq—betraying his own principles and friends in the process. Like Hitchens, he carries a violently contemptuous attitude towards his former comrades whom he derides for their naïveté, principle and “idealism.” Despite adopting the symbols of liberation and inverting the signs, Hitchens after all still considered himself a leftist, even a Marxist, as late as 2010. Because isn’t that an effective prophylactic against an uneasy conscience?

By attacking the only groups and individuals who are committed to the protection of civilians in Syria, Blumenthal has found a target to sublimate and project what he called his “anguish” at the carnival of apologia and conspicuous silence from those on the Left After all, we—those who stress political and arms support for Syria’s democrats—have been fighting a lost battle for the hearts and minds of progressives in the West. Not knowing how to help without committing the Great Apostasy of demanding that the liberal democracies pull their weight around Syria’s democrats, Blumenthal has come to be tired of the despair and discomfort of calling for help from the imperium—who wouldn’t? What he wants instead is to make sense of it all. He wants to give his life and its place in History meaning.

That’s why he thinks it’s 2003. Those were simpler times, when the world was divided between the Good and the Neocon. When opposing your government’s war assured you immunity from moral conundrums. And if you buy the thesis that history does indeed repeat itself, you can avoid ruminating on the constantly terrifying novelty of the present.

Such farce.

Shorn of all substance, all that remains is the affect and optics of interrogating imperialism. But if you look past the optics, you realize that the ontology at play remains deeply entrenched in a colonial unconscious. “We are the prime movers of History” is a fairly therapeutic thought amidst the chaos.

 

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GOLIATH: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel


4 dec 2013

In his new book, GOLIATH: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author Max Blumenthal takes readers on an eye-opening journey through the badlands and high roads of Israel-Palestine. Based on four years of research and on-the-ground reporting, the book is an unflinching, unprecedented work of journalism which depicts a startling portrait of Israeli society under siege from increasingly authoritarian politics.

GOLIATH illuminates the momentous political and social transitions occurring in greater Israel, with a particular focus on the effects of these changes on the people themselves — both Jews and Palestinians. Blumenthal charts the progression of Israel’s current crisis through the 2012 Israeli national elections, and against the historical backdrop of the cataclysmic events of 1948 that haunt the Holy Land to this day.

The New America Foundation hosted a discussion about his book and what his findings mean for the potential of peace in one of the world’s most contested regions.

Join the conversation online using #GOLIATH and following @NatSecNAF on Twitter.

Participants
Max Blumenthal
Author, GOLIATH: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel

Max Blumenthal’s Goliath, Life and Loathing in Greater Israel-PtI

Watch the video the New York Times didn’t Want You to See

(Max) Blumenthal explained how The New York Times commissioned the
11-minute video, but after the paper’s editors saw it, refused to
publish it: “I was asked to submit something by The New York Times op
docs, a new section on the website that published short video
documentaries. I am known for short video documentaries about the right
wing in the US, and extremism in Israel. They solicited a video from me,
and when I didn’t produce it in time, they called me for it, saying
they wanted it. So I sent them a video I produced with my colleague,
David Sheen, an Israeli journalist who is covering the situation of
non-Jewish Africans in Israel more extensively than any journalist in
the world. We put together some shocking footage of pogroms against
African communities in Tel Aviv, and interviews with human rights
activists. I thought it was a well-done documentary about a situation
very few Americans were familiar with. We included analysis. We tailored
it to their style, and of course it was rejected without an explanation
after being solicited. I sent it to some other major websites and they
have not even responded to me, when they had often solicited articles
from me in the past. Blumenthal, author of the bestselling and widely
promoted 2009 book Republican Gomorrah, also spoke about the difficulty
he has had getting any mainstream media attention for his new book
Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel. Just like this video,
Blumenthal’s new book offers an unflinching look at the racist reality
of Israel that America’s establishment media simply does not have the
guts to confront.” ~ Max Blumenthal

Israel Cranks Up the PR Machine
It’s deploying all its resources to fight the growing world movement against the occupation.
http://www.thenation.com/article/1767…

If taken down, see on fb : https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151915107113984

Rapture Ready: The Christians United for Israel Tour

[youtube http://youtu.be/mjMRgT5o-Ig?]

Max Blumenthal’s latest takes us on a shocking and at times bizarre tour of right-wing Pastor John Hagee’s annual Washington-Israel Summit, blowing the cover off the Christian Zionist movement in the process. Starring Joe Lieberman, Tom DeLay, Pastor John Hagee, Ambassador Dore Gold and a host of rapture-ready evangelicals praying for Armaggedon.

US General: “Iran a Rational Actor”, but is US one?

Click on image

Max Blumenthal: There is nothing “rational” about sanctions and GOP leaders call for war is certainly not .

If #KhaderAdnan was a Jewish terrorist, he might be free

Max Blumenthal

February 18, 2012

As I write this, Khader Adnan is near death, on the 63rd day of a hunger strike to protest his detention without charges by Israeli occupation authorities. Having been seized on December 17 in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers, jailed without trial, humiliated and abused, Adnan is waging one of the longest hunger strikes in Palestinian history. A 33-year-old baker, Adnan has been an activist in the popular resistance faction Palestinian Islamic Jihad for several years, but has never been implicated in any act of violence. As with the more than 300 Palestinians held by Israel in administrative detention, Israeli military authorities refuse to say why Adnan was imprisoned. Human Rights Watch has demanded that Israel “immediately charge or release” Adnan, as has Amnesty International. But the Israeli authorities continue to ignore the pleas of human rights groups.

Unfortunately for Adnan, he was not a Jewish terror suspect.

In July 2010, Jerusalem police arrested a Jewish extremist named Chaim Pearlman. Pearlman was the prime suspect in a cold-blooded settler stabbing spree that left four Palestinians dead. Pearlman had previously engaged in acts of random violence against Palestinians, while maintaining an active role in the Kach terrorist organization. For ten days, the Shin Bet intelligence service subjected him to harsh interrogations while denying him access to legal counsel. Finally, Israeli High Court Justice Edmund Levy admonished the Shin Bet for refusing to produce evidence of Pearlman’s guilt. “Never in my life have I seen such behavior,” Levy claimed, despite having presided over numerous cases of Palestinian Israelis detained in a similarly lawless fashion.

Haaretz, the liberal Israeli daily, reacted with shock to Pearlman’s treatment, proclaiming in an editorial that “the Shin Bet must mend its ways.” The editors declared that while prosecuting Jewish terrorism is important, “the ends do not justify the means.” “Even the war against terror must be conducted using legal means,” the Haaretz editors harumphed. After Justice Levy refused to extend Pearlman’s detention by 8 days, Pearlman was set free and greeted by a cheering crowd of Jewish extremists.

The Israeli High Court has yet to demand evidence of Adnan’s guilt. Nor have any voices in the mainstream of Israeli opinion expressed their indignation at his treatment. Instead, a military appeals court has ruled that Adnan must stay in detention until at least May. One of Adnan’s hands and both of his feet are shackled to a bed at a hospital in Safed. His wife keeps a poster in the family’s living room that features his image above a caption. It reads, “My honor is more important than my food.”

Source

Pro-Israel Rally For Attacking Gaza, NYC, 1-11-09

[youtube http://youtu.be/FABqq_jjRRo?]

Gaza, never forget! Video by Max Blumenthal and Dan Luban. Full story here: http://www.alternet.org/story/119372

Meltdown of the Macher: Abe Foxman loses it, calls Israeli interviewer a bigot and condemns the Seinfeld “Soup Nazi”

See Max Blumenthal’s commentary.

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