Tag Archives: Max Blumenthal

The Occupation of the American Mind

“Over the past few years, Israel’s ongoing military occupation of Palestinian territory and repeated invasions of the Gaza strip have triggered a fierce backlash against Israeli policies virtually everywhere in the world — except the United States. The Occupation of the American Mind takes an eye-opening look at this critical exception, zeroing in on pro-Israel public relations efforts within the U.S.”

“Narrated by Roger Waters and featuring leading observers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and U.S. media culture, the film explores how the Israeli government, the U.S. government, and the pro-Israel lobby have joined forces, often with very different motives, to shape American media coverage of the conflict in Israel’s favor. From the U.S.-based public relations campaigns that emerged in the 1980s to today, the film provides a sweeping analysis of Israel’s decades-long battle for the hearts, minds, and tax dollars of the American people in the face of widening international condemnation of its increasingly right-wing policies.”

Narrated by Roger Waters / Featuring Amira Hass, M.J. Rosenberg, Stephen M. Walt, Noam Chomsky, Rula Jebreal, Henry Siegman, Rashid Khalidi, Rami Khouri, Yousef Munayyer, Norman Finkelstein, Max Blumenthal, Phyllis Bennis, Norman Solomon, Mark Crispin Miller, Peter Hart, and Sut Jhally.

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Gideon Levy: Americans “Are Supporting the First Signs of Fascism in Israel”

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Filed under Israel, Media, Occupation, People, Settlers, Uncategorized, US Policy, Video

#GoingtoGaza – Oct. 1 – Oct. 28, 2014

I actively started on my journey to return to Gaza in the summer of 2014 and kept a daily journal of my efforts.  The first month is posted here.

In December 2015, I find myself stuck in Cairo and feeling discouraged about my efforts to return to Gaza, but it helps to review my “progress” over the past year.

Day #33 – Lessoned Learned – I need to stay focused on my goal. #GoingtoGaza. I have a bad habit of over-committing myself and trying to be in too many places at the same time, maybe because I have so many interests. This morning I awoke and realized sadly … I can’t do it all. 😦

#GoingtoGaza

Day #34 – Meetings today to get my business affairs in order so that everything will run smoothly in my absence. One thing on my TO DO list is to get rid of (or minimize) all the junk mail. I feel very “accomplished” after spending a couple of hours on the phone to stop different solicitations. Junk mail clutters the mind as well as the mailbox.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #35 – Nothing went right today! I showed up at the United Blood Services office an hour late, and after they tested my blood, they decided I didn’t have enough iron and refused to accept a donation. I then tried to take the bus to a meeting but I got lost, and walked and walked — forgot the address of the meeting — and a good friend came to pick me up. She drove me to the meeting but no one was there. A sign on the door said it began at 6:30, not 5:30 as I thought, so she took me out to dinner. While we were sitting together and eating, I began to choke on a piece of meat. I threw it up eventually but my esophagus hurt. 😦  So my friend drove me home. Thank goodness for wonderful friends.  But I’m especially sad I missed the meeting because I was asked to share about my experience in Gaza.  Darn!

#GoingtoGaza (if I don’t choke on my meat first)

Day #36 – A coincidence? Or synchronicity? Today is Eid for the Muslims and Yom Kippur for the Jews — holy days that have special significance to the faithful. Since I’m neither Jewish nor Muslim, I don’t pretend to understand the deeper meaning in each. A friend from Gaza posted a photo of his friend who was killed by Israel this summer; they will never share another Eid together. I spent the evening with an elderly Jewish friend who is recuperating from serious health issues. She told me that Yom Kippur is the day when Jews are supposed to atone for the sins and mistakes of all Jews everywhere. That’s a pretty tall order, and my friend said it was “too much” for her to try to atone for Israel’s massacres in Gaza this summer. I wonder how Jews worldwide atone for Israel’s actions. Do they really have to “take on” the guilt and responsibility of the actions of the State of Israel? Or do they use this time to explain & defend Israel’s actions, and assuage their guilt?

#GoingtoGaza

Day #37 – #GoingtoGaza means I’m leaving ABQ.  I’m imagining that I will be in Gaza 2-5 years (that’s my dream but who knows?) This morning I started updating my address book with the names and contact information of friends in ABQ with whom I hope to stay in touch when I get to Gaza.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #38 – Storage unit – signed up for a storage unit today to put my things in while I’m in Gaza.  Now I need to finish packing up, giving away, and selling stuff. Couldn’t do all of this without Marianne’s help. Her counsel is priceless. I’m going to miss her.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #39 — I met with Rodrigo from SWOP to talk about food justice issues in Gaza.  At the end I said “I stand in solidarity with Palestinians because they are people just like you and me.” Now I wonder if that sounds a little lame, but it’s absolutely how I feel. Netanyahu and the Israeli government and the extremist-Israeli settlers do their best to dehumanize the Palestinians so that Americans won’t feel guilty about the inhumane military, economic and psychological actions Israel takes against Palestinians.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #40 – Cleaning out storage shed. I’m opening old boxes with papers, files, and articles that I thought were so important at one time in my professional life. Now I feel like I’m in the pupa stage of my personal growth and development. Shedding those files is liberating.  (Don’t worry — I’m recycling the paper!) http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pupa

#GoingtoGaza

Day #41 – Warnings & concern – Nearly everyone to whom I’ve told my plans about #GoingtoGaza have expressed concern and warned me about the danger. Family and friends are well-meaning and I respect their concerns. They remind me that I’m no longer a spring chicken and I should be thinking about my health. They note that the conditions in Gaza today (after Israel’s 51-day assault this summer) are much more difficult than they were in 2012-2013 when I was in Gaza. They mention bombs and kidnappings. I take their concerns seriously. I love each and every one. The thought in my head — if the danger and conditions in Gaza are so serious, then there are 1.8 million people exposed to those dangers and conditions. How can we turn our backs on them?!  What can we do to relieve the suffering and danger for everyone in Gaza today?

#GoingtoGaza

Day #42 – Max Blumenthal (author of Goliath) and Amy Goodman (Democracy Now) were at the Lensic Theatre in Santa Fe tonight speaking to a sold out audience. Although I have his book on my Kindle, I decided to buy a hard copy tonight and asked him to autograph it to Refaat Alareer in Gaza.  Max mentioned Refaat by name during his talk, and I told him I would take this copy of the book to Refaat in Gaza. The take-away message for me: Israel will not end the military occupation or its descent into hell by itself. Change will only come from the outside.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #43 – So many friends I want to say goodbye to before leaving Albuquerque. Can’t sleep — making lists in my head.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #44 – Reading two books (side-by-side) — Max Blumenthal’s “Goliath” and a novel by Claire Hajaj “Ishmael’s Oranges”. Blumenthal recounts the historical impacts of Israel’s Absentee Property Law – placing all of the property belonging to Arabs who had fled Israel (1947-1948) into the hands of the Custodian of Absentee Property, who then redistributed the property to Jews based on the Land Acquisition Law.  He also shares the horrific facts and figures of the attack on Jaffa on May 13, 1948 by Zionist militias. Hajaj’s novel begins with that attack on Jaffa and how it impacted a 7-year old boy Salim, whose family home and orchard were taken from them because of these two laws. Hajaj’s description of the hopelessness that Salim’s family feels in 1948 gives life to the history that Blumenthal shares.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #45 – With help from a friend who has a truck, I’m moving boxes into storage today. I think it will feel good to get them out of the house. It will certainly be easier to move around in my house with these boxes out-of-the-way. Learned today that the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) insists that I provide a letter from the American Embassy in Cairo asking for cooperation to allow me to cross the border between Egypt and Gaza. In January 2013, the American Embassy in Cairo told me it would no longer issue such letters.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #46 – I’m feeling very hopeful after spending the evening with the family of a good friend.

They invited me over to the house to talk about Gaza. The extended family was there — about 8 adults — who were very interested to hear about my time in Gaza. They were already extremely knowledgeable about the history and current events in the Middle East — and asked very thoughtful questions. Up until now, I thought the people who really cared about the Palestinians were the “peace activists” and we spent our days talking to the choir. This family gives me a renewed feeling of hope because they’re Americans who aren’t “activists” and not in the same circle as the choir, but very well-informed and want to make a difference. They’re committed to social justice. I bet there are many more Americans like them. Yeah!

#GoingtoGaza

Day #47 – I’m getting my “dog fix” before I leave. Dog-sitting a cute husky … her name is Luna but I keep calling her AnnaBelle after another dog I know well in California.  Luna turns around and looks at me like “You’re nuts lady! Can’t you remember MY name?” I’m really thinking about Cocoa who has been gone 4 years but I still miss him.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #48 — Ten years ago this month I visited Gaza for the first time. It was a very short visit but it left a very big impression on me. My friend and I took an award to a well-known psychologist in Gaza (Dr. El-Sarraj) because Israel would not allow this man to leave Gaza to accept his award at an international conference in Australia. He was being recognized for his groundbreaking work with children who suffer PTSD.  He died last year. http://m.aljazeera.com/story/20131218102323309644

#GoingtoGaza

Day #49 – My family thinks I’m nuts (at least one family member does). My plans to return to Gaza indicate I’m depressed, even suicidal — and a family intervention might be necessary! I know such concerns come from a place of love, but it angers me nevertheless.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #50 – Wow! Fifty days since I started this journey of packing up my house to leave the USA and travel to Gaza. Yesterday I signed up with a property manager who will look after my house in my absence. I feel good about her – not like one of those large, impersonal property management companies.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #51 – A word to the wise. Don’t collect 1000s of photos over 30-40 years and store them haphazardly in boxes, and expect to organize them in one afternoon. It just ain’t gonna happen. I need to finish packing up this weekend so the mover can put this stuff into storage. I never thought a large walk-in closet could be a curse. I imagine I will put all of these wonderful photos into albums someday when I’m sitting in a rocking chair.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #52 – Amazing how much you can accomplish when you have a team working together. My team includes a property manager, a painter, a mastermind/ coordinator, a gardener, a cook, a carpenter/ repairman, a mover, and a plumber. This is a well-oiled machine with everyone working together.  Lolololol

#GoingtoGaza

Day #53 – Feeling seriously overwhelmed today. I’ll never be ready for the “Estate Sale” this weekend. So much to do —- it seems impossible today. But check in with me on Saturday!  Ha!

#GoingtoGaza

Days #54 and #55 – getting ready for my Estate Sale tomorrow (Friday and Saturday). I’ve been so slammed with everything, I haven’t had time to check email, Facebook or Twitter. OMG! Keeping my fingers crossed that my junk is someone else’s treasure!

#GoingtoGaza

Day #56 – Feeling very grateful for all the good friends who made my sales day so successful!  Thank you! Looking forward to tomorrow’s sale from 8 am – 2 pm.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #57 – Saturday night was my farewell party to say goodbye to friends before I leave Albuquerque. I feel very blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life. All I could think of as I talked with one and then another was “I’m not saying goodbye! I’m going to stay connected to each and every one via email, Facebook, Skype.” This is such a small world.  Imagine if I was my Dutch ancestor sailing away from family and friends in the 1600s! THAT would be a very sad farewell. But mine is a very joyous one!

#GoingtoGaza

Day #58 – Egypt has announced it is closing the Rafah border between Gaza and Egypt for 3 months after 32 Egyptian policemen were killed by a suicide bomber near the Rafah border on Friday. Egypt is also suspending talks between Israel and Hamas re. ceasefire truce. Predictably, blame is being placed on Palestinian militants from Gaza, and Egypt says the “only solution” is to create a “safe zone” presumably near Rafah to protect Egyptians. I find this very offensive and I’m going to write a blog post to explain why.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #59 – Less than two weeks until I leave ABQ. Now that the “Estate Sale” is finished, I’m tying up a zillion other pieces to make this transition a success.

#GoingtoGaza

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Goliath and PEP

The Lensic in Santa Fe holds 821 people but last night I think they must have squeezed in a few more to hear Amy Goodman (Democracy Now) and Max Blumenthal. I only got in because my friend had the foresight to pick up tickets early. If you missed out, I think the program will be available online next Sunday — check here.

Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe, NM

Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe, NM

The focus of the evening was Max Blumenthal’s new book — GOLIATH: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel — Nation Books (2013). Unlike his earlier book — REPUBLICAN GOMORRAH: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party — which received a boatload of attention from media and talk show hosts, this time the reception in the U.S. has been silence. Amy Goodman interviewed him about his book here and here, but you might be hard-pressed to find any other interviews.

Why the silent treatment, even from some of the “liberal” and “progressive” media? Blumenthal shared PEP with the audience, an acronym I first heard this summer, “Progressive Except Palestine.” I’ve used PEP to describe several Facebook friends who, needless to say, have chosen no longer to be Facebook friends!

I’ve never understood how many self-described “progressives” can have a blind spot when it comes to Israel-Palestine. Last night, I think I came up with an explanation.

Blumenthal described what he witnessed in the Gaza Strip during a ceasefire in Israel’s 51-day assault (“Operation Protective Edge”) this past summer.  I’m still scratching my head, trying to understand how he managed to get into Gaza through the Erez Crossing.

Max Blumenthal, author of GOLIATH

Max Blumenthal, author of GOLIATH

In addition to reciting facts and figures, many Arabic and Israeli names rolled easily off his tongue, as if they were neighbors or good friends. The Gaza fishermen who took him out on the sea one night. Max Steinberg, a Jewish jihadist from Los Angeles, who joined the elite Golani Brigade in Israel and died in Gaza this summer. The men in Gaza who served Blumenthal tea while standing in front of a pile of rubble, their destroyed homes. He mentioned Refaat Alareer by name — a university professor in Gaza and Editor of Gaza Writes Back — and I decided right there and then that I would ask Blumenthal to autograph a book for Refaat which I plan to deliver when I return to Gaza.

Max Blumenthal and Amy Goodman

Max Blumenthal and Amy Goodman

Blumenthal spent 4 years researching Goliath. About the research, he says:

Thanks to my U.S. passport and Jewish heritage, I have been able to report from the frontiers of Israel-Palestine with relative ease, receiving favorable treatment from ethnic profiling experts at Ben Gurion International Airport, passing effortlessly through checkpoints, and cruising from the West Bank to Tel Aviv on highways made off limits to most Palestinians. I spent months living in Ajami, a rapidly gentrifying Palestinian ghetto just south of Tel Aviv; in central Jerusalem, an increasingly frenetic hotbed of Jewish religious nationalism; and in Ramallah, the occupied, seemingly prosperous capital of a Palestinian state that may never be. I have interviewed leaders of Israeli political parties and leaders of Palestinian protests…These are the stories of people living under a regime of separation, grappling with the consequences of ethnic division in a land with no defined borders.

Imagine 89 families (entire families) wiped out or “liquidated” by the Israeli military this summer. Blumenthal says that raises the question of of genocide. I would agree.

He just returned from the Russell Tribunal, the People’s Tribunal, earlier this month where he presented testimony about possible war crimes. Listen to some of the horrific stories he heard in Gaza. (15 minutes)

Max Blumenthal came under fire from liberal Zionists for portraying Israel in such a critical manner, but Operation Protective Edge has proven him right, and now those liberal Zionists have nothing to say. The reality of Israel today is much worse than what he describes in Goliath.

“The mask is off” Israel now and Blumenthal believes there has been a “massive shift in public opinion in the U.S.”  There are now more Jewish Voices for Peace chapters on university campuses in the United States than there are J Street chapters, whose members have been moving to JVP in droves.

When asked by a member of the audience to speak about AIPAC, Blumenthal acknowledged it was the second most powerful lobby (after the NRA) in the U.S. but it has no base; it’s top heavy and buys off the the elites.

Max Blumenthal  autographing book for Refaat Alareer

Max Blumenthal autographing book for Refaat Alareer

Blumenthal is a great story-teller (on paper and in person) and his descriptions of Shu’jaya and Rafah and Gaza City drew me back to my Palestinian friends with both great sadness and joy because his experience mirrored so many of my experiences when I lived there.

The evening’s take-away message for me — the one I don’t want to forget — is that there is no hope of reforming the State of Israel or ending the military occupation from the inside. Israel has moved so far to the right politically, and Israelis have been so isolated from Palestinians, that Blumenthal believes they’re preparing for a permanent occupation of Palestine. Force has to come from the outside in the form of the BDS movement, in international public opinion, and from action at the ICC to hold Israel accountable.

P1290495

So here’s my PEP theory — why self-described progressives can turn a blind eye towards the injustices that Israel’s military occupation is perpetuating on Palestinians.  Some of these PEPs are good Jews who visited Israel during their impressionable years on a “birthright” tour, just like Max Blumenthal did when he was a young man, and accepted without question the “special” stories they heard. To challenge those messages now would (1) make them feel foolish or (2) upset their moral universe in which Israel = good and Palestine = terror/bad.

Psychologically, when someone’s identity is so tied up into a place (Israel), he can’t acknowledge the evil warts that exist in that place without acknowledging his own warts. Even though, rationally speaking, a state and an individual don’t have to be so intertwined, Israeli leaders don’t want any daylight to exist between the State and the good Jew so that they won’t question the actions of the State. And that’s why I fear that my friends and family who find themselves intertwined with the State of Israel in this way are in for a very big fall.

Friends at the Lensic following Max Blumenthal's presentation.

Friends at the Lensic following Max Blumenthal’s presentation.

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