In Goliath, New York Times best-selling author Max Blumenthal takes us on a journey through the badlands and high roads of Israel-Palestine, painting a startling portrait of Israeli society under the siege of increasingly authoritarian politics as the occupation of the Palestinians deepens.
Beginning with the national elections carried out during Israel's war on Gaza in 2008/9, which brought into power the country's most right-wing government to date, Blumenthal tells the story of Israel in the wake of the collapse of the Oslo peace process.
As Blumenthal reveals, Israel has become a country where right-wing leaders like Avigdor Lieberman and Bibi Netanyahu are sacrificing democracy on the altar of their power politics, where the loyal opposition largely and passively stands aside and watches the organized assault on civil liberties, where state-funded Orthodox rabbis publish books that provide instructions on how and when to kill gentiles, where half of Jewish youth declare their refusal to sit in a classroom with an Arab, and where mob violence targets Palestinians and African asylum seekers scapegoated by leading government officials as "demographic threats."
Immersing himself like few other journalists inside the world of hardline political leaders and movements, Blumenthal interviews the demagogues and divas in their homes, in the Knesset, and in the watering holes where their young acolytes hang out, and he speaks with those political leaders behind the organized assault on civil liberties. As his journey deepens, he painstakingly reports on the occupied Palestinians challenging schemes of demographic separation through unarmed protest. He talks at length to the leaders and youth of Palestinian society inside Israel now targeted by security service dragnets and legislation suppressing their speech and provides in-depth reporting on the small band of Jewish Israeli dissidents who have shaken off a conformist mind-set that permeates the media, schools, and the military.
Through his far-ranging travels, Blumenthal illuminates the present by uncovering the ghosts of the past - the histories of Palestinian neighborhoods and villages now gone and forgotten, how that history has set the stage for the current crisis of Israeli society, and how the Holocaust has been turned into justification for occupation.
A brave and unflinching account of the real facts on the ground, Goliath is an unprecedented and compelling work of journalism.
©2013 Max Blumenthal (P)2013 Blackstone Audio
Goliath is not always an easy book to listen to. It is well written and well read, but the truths can be hard for many people to hear. Max Blumenthal at the lives of Palestinians, those in the Occupied Territories, but more so those Palestinians living inside Israel proper. The stories these Palestinians have almost never been told in the US, but they are important. Close to two million Arabs live inside Israel treated as less than second class citizens. They are denied access to most land, most jobs, many government benefits, and basic rights to organize political institutions and celebrate their culture. Blumenthal also examines the increasing rhetoric and legislation in Israel that many Israelis themselves describe as neo-fascist.
If you're looking for a feel-good story, this is not it. If you are looking for stories about life in Israel and Palestine that aren't generally told in the US, this book is a must read.
Listened to it after I heard an interview with the author on democracy now. I could not stop listing or sleep until I finished it. It makes you want to cry. A must read for all peace lovers.
This does the annoying thing that modern journalism books seem to require: provide first person narratives of events meant to be scary/perilous and assume the anecdotes provide context for various points the author is trying to make. That stuff seldom works. Here I rarely felt there was any true danger to the writer and, to the extent there seems to be some danger, it's been manufactured with some craftily deployed hyperbole.
This is a minor complaint though. Blumenthal keeps that stuff limited (feels like an editor/agent told him, "well it's gotta have at least five journalist in peril scenes or we can't sell it") preferring to focus on illuminating facts about Israel's creation, occupation and politics that many who rely on Western media for info will no doubt find shocking/enraging. And even if you do know a lot about those things, Blumenthal's presentation is still good at engaging the reader.
Although the author is of jewish decent, he proceeds to tell a very biased anti-semitic tale. He fails to paint a complete picture of the complex Israeli situation. Not once does he mention that the Palestinian leadership are committed to the anihilation of, not just the Jewish state, but of the Jewish people. Rather than show a whole picture that places Israeli actions, good or bad against the realities of Palestinian hatred, terrorism, and religious manipulation from within and without, we are given a purely propaganda piece. In fairness, Mr. Blumenthal does let us know that the Israeli government feels the very existence of the nation is at stake, he dismisses this as paranoia.
This book pounds, to the point of beating a dead horse, the message that Israel is a Nazi state, persecuting the poor innocents of palestine. Palestinians are portrayed as blameless victims, subjected to racial slurs, physical abuse, and indiscriminate murder. Their land stolen by Israeli aggression through no provocation. The 6 day war is insinuated to have been Israel's unprovoked land grab. No mention of the Arab provocation or attacks. The spoils of a war they didn't start is called an unfair land theft.
I have no doubt atrocities have been committed; on both sides. Neither the Israelis or Palestinians are blameless innocents. I'm sure many Palestians are caught in a situation they want nothing to do with, but their leadership has put them there. When Mr. Blumenthal tells heart-wrenching tales of Palestinians caught in the Israeli retribution for missile attacks, the missile attacks are either not mentioned or downplayed.
Why does Max Blumenthal ignore the whole story and write a monotonous string of one-sided accusations and anecdotal stories sympathetic only to the palestinians? I don't know, but an understanding of Israel requires two sides of a very complex historical conflict. I didn't feel Blumenthal cared about that. I felt he set out to damage Israel and promote the Palestinian cause.
As for the performance, it was superb.
This could be an interesting magazine article but instead was turned into a book / 24 hrs of listening. It's a looping story (about 50 times) of how Israel mistreats the Palestinians. I got it after chapter one.
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