Jewish American reporter Max Blumenthal's latest book is a must-read for anyone struggling to understand why Jewish Israelis support ultimately self-destructive policies of their government. While expressing understanding of the sociological roots of its endemic racism, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel is a searing indictment of Israeli policies and society. Through exhaustive research and countless interviews over a four year period spent mostly in Israel following Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9, Blumenthal has produced a vivid portrait of a society experiencing what he argues is the logical result of being based on an ideology of exclusion and exceptionalism. He weaves history with anecdotes, poll data and contemporary Israeli news sources in producing a rich tapestry that depicts modern Israel in all its ugliness; a racist, fearful, imperialist and anti-democratic nation ruled by an economic elite whose aim is to consolidate its power by sacrificing the soul of the nation and endangering its future.
Far from being the democracy it is made out to be by Israeli and American media, Goliath makes clear that Israel is an apartheid state whose ruthless policies toward Palestinians in occupied Palestine and Israel are justified by the argument that the survival of the Jewish state depends on oppression. The government indoctrinates youth to accept militarism from the age of five by constantly evoking images of the Holocaust, while distorting its own history of ethnic cleansing that continues to this day. In schools, the media and all its institutions, children are taught to support endless war by ignoring the humanity of their Semitic relatives and portraying them all as terrorists or more fundamentally, "the other." The cost of such indoctrination is a nation of citizens who accept a distorted history of Israel that blinds them to the injustice that the rest of the world sees.
Goliath has something new for everyone, from those who know little of the truth about Israel to those who have made a study of it save those who have researched every aspect of the situation. The neophyte will be exposed to the rudiments of Israeli history, from its roots in terrorism prior to its creation to the Nakba, or Palestinian holocaust, which was marked by massacres and masked expulsions, to its long history of flouting international law and standards of human decency. It challenges all of the lies about the Arab-Israeli "War" of 1948 and the contradictory claim that Palestinians left voluntarily, selling land that had been in their families for countless generations. For those familiar with the basics, the details of how the government has turned from right wing to fascist (according to many interviewed for the book) prove enlightening.
Quotations of members of the Israeli government are particularly revealing. They show the extent to which the public accepts antidemocratic and blatantly apartheid messages, highlighting the growing power of the hard right in the Knesset. Blumenthal explains how the public has been seduced into accepting policies and laws that undermine the claim that a Jewish democracy is possible. He argues that the indoctrination from childhood of Jewish Israelis to regard Palestinians as inherently aggressive and a danger leads them to conclude that they must be dealt with by any means possible.
Particularly interesting are the poll data that indicate that a majority of Israeli youth and a growing number of older Israelis value a Jewish state over a democratic one. There is widespread acceptance of discriminatory laws designed to meet the demographic imperative that Jews must always outnumber non-Jews to retain Jewish dominance over the government, non-Jewish Israelis and policies toward Palestine and other Arab states. There are few protests over a series of recent anti-democratic laws that not only undermine the principle of equality of all Israelis but that restrict the rights of Jews who dare to dissent from the right wing policies of the government.
Contrary to the predictable argument that Blumenthal is what Zionists call a "self-hating Jew," he interviews a number of Jewish Israeli activists who express anger and frustration at having their voices suppressed and their views demonized. The problem is so bad that most Jewish Israelis who want to resist the "liberal" orthodoxy that accepts Zionism as a given choose to do so from outside the country, where 13% of Israelis now reside. The continuing immigration of fanatic Zionists, many of them religious radicals who populate the settlements and form the backbone of the government's supporters, is intensifying the drift toward fascism resulting from the suppression of real liberal dissent.
Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel is a jarring challenge to the mythology spun by the Zionist propaganda machine in both Israel and the US. It provides a compelling argument for divestment of private capital and an end to the billions of dollars in unconditional aid from US taxpayers each year. As such, it is an important addition to the growing chorus of voices of Jews of conscience around the world who are saying "Not in my name." US support of Israel does not serve the interests of America, Palestine or even Israel. The prospects for peace in the Mideast and the world depend on justice for Palestine. We are all Palestinians now.