Monday, March 22, 2010

Quislings?

On two occasions in the past two days, columnist and author Max Blumenthal has stated in radio interviews that pro-Israel U.S. politicians are "quislings".  A quisling, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is:

A traitor who serves as the puppet of the enemy occupying his or her country.  [After Vidkun Quisling (1887-1945), head of Norway's government during the Nazi occupation (1940-1945).]

Along with this charge that support for Israel equals treason, Blumenthal denounced supporters of Israel who "demonize Palestinians", specifically citing the example of a law professor whom he quoted as calling human rights workers "traitors".  It would seem fair that those who quite reasonably seek to end "demonizing" and calling their adversaries traitors apply those same standards to themselves. 

Other standards for debate should be applied evenhandedly as well.  In spite of his equating support for Israel with Quisling's collaboration with Nazi Germany, Blumenthal went on in these interviews to condemn Israel's supporters for invoking the Holocaust for political purposes.  He seemed unaware that he was doing so himself. 

Blumenthal's reporting on the Republican Party and the far-right is praise-worthy and has made a valuable contribution to discussion of that subject.  While his view of Israel is monolithically negative, some of his criticism is valid and much of the rest deserves serious consideration by those who disagree with it.   Blumenthal did well to point out examples of anti-Arab bias, racism and downright stupidity among some of Israel's supporters.  He did this in his video of the racist rants of drunk yeshiva students which was a YouTube hit last year.  He did this by dissecting the insane apocalyptic preachings of Pastor Hagee and demanding that those who welcome Hagee's support contend with his madness.  Blumenthal was condemned for painting all Zionists with a broad brush by portraying Hagee and drunken yeshiva students as representative of Zionism in general.  Of course they aren't, and no reasonable person would think that they are.  Such a claim denies the existence of liberal, anti-racist Zionism -- an argument which is easily refutable.  Moreover, journalists shouldn't be condemned for airing dirty laundry -- that's their job.  The truth of what they report is its own defense; and the facts in Blumenthal's videos speak for themselves.   But now that Blumenthal has equated American Jewish support for Israel with collaboration with Nazi Germany, I wonder if I've been too kind in my assessment of his intentions.




[These interviews took place on WBAI's March 21 broadcast of Beyond the Pale and March 22 broadcast of Law and Disorder.  The March 22 broadcast of Law and Disorder is currently available here and is archived here.  The "quisling" charge occurs at 28:20 of the program.  The March 21 broadcast of Beyond the Pale is currently available here and is archived here.  The "quisling" charge occurs at 15:50.] 

1 comment:

A. Jay Adler said...

Adam, I'm afraid you have been too kind on Blumenthal. While I don't disagree with your general comments regarding a generic journalist airing dirty laundry, I think Blumenthal's intent with Israel is never honest journalism. If you haven't read my post The Malice of Mondoweiss, it offers a different take on what Blumenthal is up to.

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