If You Read Only One Book Review about Geopolitics This Year — Read This One by Larry Gross — regarding Max Blumenthal, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel

© 2013 Peter Free


07 November 2013



Citation — to the book review


Larry Gross, Reading ‘Goliath’: Inconvenient Truths, TruthDig (05 November 2013)


A review of a review seems silly doesn’t it?


But not when the book being scrutinized expresses a perspective that oppression-enablers want to suppress.


I have not yet read Max Blumenthal’s, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel (2013). But Larry Gross’s outstanding review persuaded me to pick it up.


For what it is worth, I am discriminating in the books I buy.  From a critical thinking perspective, most non-fiction authors are repetitious, poorly edited, and almost always fail to reference the sources for the frequently few facts they proffer.


Goliath appears to survive this cut, in part because reviewer Larry Gross sells it with insights and writing of his own.  That is unusual in a book review.



Who is Larry Gross — and why should we care?


Dr. Gross is Director of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.  He is Jewish and fluent in Hebrew.  His impressive curriculum vitae is here.


He has personal experience in Israel.



What Larry Gross wrote about Max Blumenthal’s Goliath


From the TruthDig book review:



Anyone who has seen such powerful recent documentaries as “Five Broken Cameras,” “The Gatekeepers” and “The Law in These Parts” . . . will be aware of the scale and depth of the continuing tragedy inflicted on the indigenous population of Palestine, and the corrosive damage to the Israeli soul and spirit that is an inevitable price for the role they are playing.


Reading the chapters of “Goliath” that recount the anti-democratic legislative efforts of the various right-wing and religious parties . . . it is impossible not to think about the perversion of parliamentary democracies in the fascist states of Italy, Germany and Spain.


Among the most striking patterns that Blumenthal notes is the cowardice of many so-called moderates in the Israeli political scene.


In recent years the unabashed virulence of the fundamentalist factions in Israeli politics has been manifested in statements and positions that rival anything emanating from the ayatollahs and mullahs of fundamentalist Islam, but they have not received the same level of attention or condemnation from the media or the political elites either in Israel or, certainly, the United States.


© 2013 Larry Gross, Reading ‘Goliath’: Inconvenient Truths, TruthDig (05 November 2013) (extracts)



Gross concludes that Blumenthal’s conclusion about the situation is correct, even if Blumenthal gets to it in an unbalanced way


In short:



Israel is losing the battle for the sympathies of the younger generation, those for whom the Holocaust no longer trumps the realities of the oppression of the Palestinian population.


Just as the war in Vietnam, not to mention later unjustifiable military adventures in Iraq and elsewhere, squandered America’s post-World War II moral authority, so Israel’s prolonged and increasingly horrific occupation and destruction of Palestinian territory have replaced the righteous image of the heroic sabra with that of the self-righteous religious settler claiming that God gave the Jews absolute dominion . . . .


© 2013 Larry Gross, Reading ‘Goliath’: Inconvenient Truths, TruthDig (05 November 2013)



From my once historian’s perspective, the most basic problem regarding Israel stems from its insane creation process


It is 1947 — “Lemme see, where can we plop this new country, where it will inevitably create the world’s most intractably violent problems?”


Most genuinely rational people would agree that overly fevered racial and cultural identifications create more problems than they solve.  That is essentially what people mean, when they refer to the “human condition.”


Though I understand the post-World War II Western world’s desire to assist Jewish people left alive after the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust, I have trouble seeing the rational merit of foisting Israel in exactly the place that the Bible — whose reading fueled its geographic selection — already indicated had been the very definition of thousands of years of murderous pseudo-tribal jealousies.


If you put yourself in the metaphorical shoes of a rational (visiting) space alien, you will wonder how human beings could be dumb enough to inject another dose of toxicity into one of the world’s longest lasting wounds.


The fact is that History heals more often by separating or eliminating antagonists, than it does by non-violently getting them to live together in peace.


Consequently, when History has worked its randomness by geographically moving one cultural side’s alleged “troublemakers” from the region — as it did with the pre-War majority of self-identified Jews — it makes very little peace-making sense to bring them all back, without first imposing safeguards on both sides that the will ameliorate the bloodletting that the mass return virtually guarantees.


In the case of Israel’s creation, Zionists pointed to the Bible as justification for the creation of Jewish State — which in itself (given Islam’s inarguable dominance in the region) indicates just how one-sided this geographical imposition was — and the Western Powers went along with this religio-babble by metaphorically poking Islamic Palestinians in their supposedly inferior eyes.


In effect, the Crusades continued by using Israelis as a Trojan Horse (proxy) against Middle Eastern Islam.  Either that or American bigots decided that Arab folks were unworthy of considerately delivered respect.



Am I too harsh in this analysis — Am I an anti-Semite?


No, to both.


Being a frank admirer of (i) Jews generally, based in part on years spent living in a noticeably Jewish community in the United States and (ii) Jewish resilience — if such a trait can be legitimately assigned to an entire culture — I have been saddened by the Jewish State’s incorporation into itself of the evils it protests in others.


In the United States, rational thinking has completely fled anything to do with Jews and Zion.  “They’re our guys, and we’ll let them do whatever they want — What’s a few dead or oppressed Arab Muslims here and there?”


Mostly unrecognized in my country is the geopolitical idea that the Great Satan — meaning the United States, as seen from the Islamic Middle East’s perspective — cannot possibly be a genuine defender of liberty and justice.  Not while it continues to support the oppression and occasional carnage that the Jewish State regularly sprinkles in defense of its provocative geographical imposition.


Probably not lost on Israel’s enemies is the consideration that the United States could (in 1947) just as easily have offered up one of its mostly unoccupied regions for establishment of the new Zion.


Zionist folk would have rejected the offer, preferring instead to continue the allegedly God-granted, geographically based tribal mayhem that the Bible explicitly sets forth.  “If ya can’t win one way, get someone stronger to cart ya back to the battlefields that History’s fluctuations took from you.”




(a) establishing Israel in the Middle East in the first instance




(b) continuing to defend the Jewish State’s visibly nasty self-defensive excesses,


the United States has made itself overt enemy of:


(i) Arabs specifically,


(ii) Islamic peoples generally,




(iii) Staunch Ally of Hypocrisy.


By doing all this, America has irretrievably diminished the persuasiveness (“soft power”) that it had accrued during World War II.


In truth, the Zionist situation is no different than those that have confronted all of History’s displaced and maltreated populations.


For example, in the United States, our record against Native Americans is reprehensible and not essentially far different in overall numerical magnitude — as opposed to institutionalized execution — than the Holocaust.   But you will not find many Americans who want to rectify these wrongs by returning stolen lands, meaning most of the United States, and life styles back to the affected demographic groups.  The same resistance to upsetting the long-standing status quo is true wherever one goes in the world.


Thus, from the Arab perspective, why should Jews have been differently treated?


And why did Arabs — who had nothing to do with the Holocaust — have been the population selected to make virtually the entirety of the (never before required) reparation?


The obvious answer is that Arabs bore the brunt of repairing this wrong because the West had the physical power to foist the costs of this self-assigned responsibility off onto them.



The moral? — Even you do not read Blumenthal’s Goliath, Larry Gross’s internally complete review of the book is worth the few minutes it takes to read it


If there is a moral lesson in the continuing Middle Eastern struggle, it is that injustice and inhumanity beget more of the same.


It does not matter whether we are addressing oppressors or victims.  Jews, once slaughtered, have become repressors.  And Palestinians, now victims, have become murderers in purported self-defense.


Sane humanity eventually will have to dump its divisive religious and racial identifications.  Ideally, a strong and just Jewish state would break the chain of causation by sucking up the Chosen People’s millennia of pain and not inflicting it on others.  Arguably, no other self-identified cultural group has been better prepared by its past suffering to demonstrate the way humanely forward.




Given human nature — and our apparently incorrigible generation-limited inability to connect with lessons from previous lifetimes — this is probably a wish too far.  Palestinian terrorist transgressions do not help the situation.  But calling for those to cease, while continuing to build a stream of new Israeli settlements in long-disputed territory, seems provocatively too much.


Truth fuels progress.


That is why I encourage people interested in geopolitics to read Larry Gross’s book review.  Its moral implications are not just about Israel and Palestine.


And even if you disagree with Gross and Blumenthal, their perspective is one that deserves thoughtful consideration.