Category Archives: EoZ

Max Blumenthal triggers a wave of buyer’s remorse

For the past few years, Max Blumenthal has worked hard to establish himself as a leading anti-Israel activist who is rightly celebrated wherever there are Jew-haters. But while Blumenthal’s “pro-Palestinian” fans could see nothing wrong with his “journalism” as long as it served to demonize Israel, they have come to reject the exact same kind of “journalism” as deeply offensive hackery when Blumenthal turned his attention to Syria. Since many people were hoping that Syria’s truly heroic rescuers known as “White Helmets” would get this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, Blumenthal apparently felt an irresistible urge to show off his journalistic brilliance by exposing the Syria Campaign – a group supporting the White Helmets – as an evil tool of the West. Not deceived by “the lofty rhetoric about solidarity and the images of heroic rescuers rushing in to save lives,” Blumenthal triumphantly discovered “an agenda that aligns closely with the forces from Riyadh to Washington clamoring for regime change.”

So brilliant and so obvious at the same time, isn’t it: given Bashar al-Assad’s benevolent rule, no Syrian could possibly want “regime change”…

The backlash against Blumenthal and his closest allies – notably Ali Abunimah and some of his Electronic Intifada writers – was quick and furious. Admittedly, it was a rather enjoyable spectacle, because a lot of the harsh criticism now voiced by disappointed fans (who want to see Israel gone as much as the likes of Blumenthal) could have been quoted from posts I and other critics of his screeds have written: suddenly people were ready to denounce “Max’s fact-free delusions” and his “smear pieces;” my personal favorite was perhaps when Blumenthal’s gonzo journalism was mocked in a tweet ridiculing how he usually concocts the “evidence” to indict his targets: “This NGO took money from a fund whose director once ate lunch in the same restaurant as an employee of an Islamophobe.” (Another delightful parody of Blumenthal’s “journalism” is here). Incidentally, this is also an excellent description of the modus operandi regularly followed by Ali Abunimah and his Electronic Intifada crew.

Abunimah was quick to complain that this was a “coordinated smear campaign that’s been going on for months,” and naturally, he had no doubt about the sinister forces behind it all: it was, of course, an “Israel-lobby inspired smear campaign.” Stalwart Abunimah fans like the perpetually “Angry Arab” agreed: it just couldn’t be a “coincidence that the campaign is being directed against some of the bravest voices against Israel in the US.”

Abunimah reacted with a torrent of tweets hurling abuse against his critics – and his bullying ultimately paid off: a blog post under the title “Palestinians decry Western Assad apologists” named only Max Blumenthal and linked to a statement signed by about 120 “Palestinian signatories” that denounced unnamed “Allies We’re Not Proud Of.” The statement declared that the signatories “are embarrassed by the ways in which some individuals known for their work on Palestine have failed to account for some crucial context in their analysis of Syria” and decried the “tendency to heroize those who advocate on behalf of the Palestinian struggle,” vowing that the signatories would “no longer entertain individuals who fail to acknowledge the immediate concerns of besieged Syrians in their analysis.”

An Al Jazeera article on the controversy also avoided naming names, though the author forcefully condemned activists who regard the “Palestinian cause” merely as a convenient “platform … to vent their selective anti-imperialist outrage.” Interestingly, this article painted a rather dramatic picture of the controversy:

“The Palestine solidarity movement is facing an unprecedented internal crisis, brought about not by the conflict with Israel but by the war in Syria. The latter has caused divisions that are arguably deeper and more damaging than those over how to realise Palestinian rights and aspirations. While the effects of Palestinian political infighting have remained largely domestic, the fissures over Syria have taken on a global dimension, and created unparalleled hostility among supporters of the Palestinian cause.”

There was indeed quite a bit of “hostility” on social media, some of it helpfully documented by Ali Abunimah himself. One telling example is archived here: Abunimah complained that the “Syrian American Medical Assoc. launches incitement campaign against me/others, claims we’re paid by Assad/Russia.” And apparently, Abunimah didn’t like getting a taste of his own medicine: “This level of incitement – comparing us to Hitler – is getting to dangerous levels.” Abunimah also took offense when his dear friend Max Blumenthal got the Max Blumenthal treatment from erstwhile fans.

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Clearly, Abunimah feels that Nazi smears should only be reserved for Israel.

The controversy also revealed a few interesting tidbits showing “pro-Palestinian” stars like Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek in a rather unflattering light. If Blumenthal really “went to Gaza &burst into tears at a Hamas checkpoint,” the boundless admiration he has expressed for Hamas perhaps also reflects some rather unhealthy psychological dispositions: the more brutal the bully, the more admiration Blumenthal will feel – which may well help to explain why Blumenthal has so much contempt for Israel and the US, and so much respect for Hamas, Assad, Russia and Iran.

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But while I couldn’t find confirmation for the delightful insider rumor about Hamas reducing Blumenthal to tears, I did manage to find evidence for the accusation that Electronic Intifada “associate editor” Rania Khalek is a plagiarist: if you check out this 2008 post on “6 ‘Non-Lethal’ Weapons That’ll Make You Wish You Were Dead” and scroll to the comments, you will find one posted on August 4th, 2011, which says: “This article has recently been plagiarized by someone named Rania Khalek for a website called Alternet. It’s not even subtle. […] The title of the stolen article is ‘6 Creepy New Weapons the Police and Military Use To Subdue Unarmed People’ and it was published August 1st 2011.” Sure enough, there is such an Alternet article by Khalek, which is marked as “updated” at the beginning and adorned with an “EDITOR’S NOTE” at the end stating: “This article has been corrected since its original publication for more accurate attribution to original sources.” Isn’t this a delicate way to put it…

Khalek’s author archive at Alternet shows that her regular contributions at the site ended a few months later in January 2012, but resumed again after three years in January 2015 – and amazingly enough, the plagiarized piece was promptly recycled under the exact same title, without the “editor’s note” and without any hint that it had been published years earlier. I suppose that’s Alternet quality journalism …

Last but not least, the disappointment expressed by erstwhile Blumenthal fans offered many more revealing glimpses at how truly pathetic many supporters of the “Palestinian cause” are. One heartbroken Blumenthal fan lamented: “I regret writing a review of @MaxBlumenthal’s Gaza book for @MuftahOrg http://muftah.org/a-review-of-max-blumenthals-the-51-day-war-ruin-and-resistance-in-gaza/ … I see that he’s fallen as low as Rania Khalek.” Check out the linked review posted on July 29, 2015, and you’ll find the highest praise for the “fearless integrity that fuels Blumenthal’s reporting.” You’ll also find that this review is illustrated with an image of the aftermath of a deadly “explosion … at a public garden near Shifa hospital in Gaza City on July 28, 2014.” It’s hard to think of a better illustration for a review praising Blumenthal, because Israel had immediately said that the carnage was caused by Hamas rockets, and even Amnesty International ultimately conceded in the spring of 2015 that “the projectile was a Palestinian rocket.” Ignoring this fact is really a good example of Blumenthal-style “integrity”.

So here’s a lesson for erstwhile Blumenthal fan Joey Husseini Ayoub and the likes of him: if you hail a hack like Blumenthal who glorifies an Islamist terror group like Hamas for his “fearless integrity,” you just look utterly pathetic when you denounce him for serving as an apologist for Syria’s Assad: Hamas and Assad have pretty much the same concern for the people under their rule. Just as the current carnage in Syria is due to Assad’s determination to hold on to power, all the wars in Gaza in the last decade are due to Hamas’ cynical efforts to polish their credentials as the “Islamic Resistance Movement.”

But I suppose there’s really nothing more “pro-Palestinian” than to quickly forget how Hamas threw opponents from high-rises in Gaza, tortured them and dragged their bodies through the streets, or executed them ISIS-style on public squares – a spectacle that was actually defended by Ali Abunimah. Maybe Max Blumenthal recalled atrocities like these when he burst into tears at a Hamas checkpoint: it must be really scary to be at the mercy of people who treat their own like this – even if you’re a “journalist” who came to glorify those brutal bullies.

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This is an updated version of a post first published at Elder of Ziyon.

Manal Tamimi: Still proud to showcase her hate on Twitter

When I first documented Manal Tamimi’s hate-filled views under the title “Screaming hate on Twitter” a year ago, Manal Tamimi reacted with defiant pride. As I documented in an update to this post, she responded on Facebook and Twitter reaffirming her views, and promptly continued posting additional tweets expressing her hatred for Israel and her support for terrorist attacks and a “Third Intifada”. More recently, presumably in response to my Tablet piece marking the 15th anniversary of the Sbarro bombing, she took the trouble to leave a comment on my site, thanking me (again) “4 taking all this time 2 follow me on Twitter & FB and taking time 2 write this article about me” and encouraging me to “keep [up] the good work by keeping following me so you will be updated.”

So I should really say: dear Manal, you are very welcome. In fact, it is me who should thank you for taking all this time to provide us with such a revealing glimpse of your ardent support for terror and your equally ardent Jew-hatred.

But courtesies aside, I’ll admit that I was not just being polite when I followed Manal Tamimi’s encouragement and put together a slide show featuring about 40 of her tweets (see the YouTube clip at the end of this post). There are several reasons why her tweets are important. First, it should be recalled that Ben Ehrenreich’s tribute to the Tamimis, which was featured as a New York Times Magazine cover story three years ago, presented her as a member of the “homegrown media team” that runs the PR efforts of Tamimi Press, noting that Manal Tamimi had taken it upon herself to supplement these efforts “with a steady outpouring of tweets (@screamingtamimi).” So it seems fair to conclude that the views she expresses are not just her own, but reflect the outlook of her fellow “activists” in Nabi Saleh. Indeed, if one considers the publicly available social media posts of other prominent Tamimi clan members (also documented in this EoZ video), it is clear that Manal Tamimi’s output on Twitter is quite representative of the hatred and extremism they all regularly exhibit – so far apparently without jeopardizing the support they’ve enjoyed for years from Amnesty International.

Moreover, given the fact that the prevalence of similar attitudes has been documented in Palestinian opinion surveys for almost two decades, it would be wrong to see Manal Tamimi’s tweets just as a reflection of what the Tamimis stand for. So-called “pro-Palestinian” activists often demand that more attention should be paid to Palestinian voices, and the outspoken Manal Tamimi should definitely count as a Palestinian voice that can tell you all you always wanted to know — but were rightly afraid to ask — about Palestinian “resistance.”

However, it would perhaps be unfair not to note that in her recent comment on my website, Manal Tamimi claimed to know the difference “between zionists & jew,” and she asserted: “I have a very good jew friends who come 2 my house where I cook meals and eat , laugh and enjoy our time together.”

When you view her tweets in the slide show, you can decide for yourself how well Manal Tamimi knows the difference “between Zionists & jew.” But given her reference to “very good jew friends who come 2 my house,” one should perhaps recall how she responded last fall, when veteran Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin criticized her on Twitter for calling a teenage terrorist “habibi” (a common Arabic term of endearment). But Manal Tamimi saw no reason to feel embarrassed and responded: “@gershonbaskin shame on me ???? Shame on me ???? And why is that Mr Gershon,” reminding Baskin later on: “uve been in my house & my children welcome u despite u r jew, do u remember?”

Some four weeks after this exchange with Baskin, Manal Tamimi posted a cartoon showing a Nazi figure beating a hideous creature marked as a Jew. As you can see, there is an almost identical image that identifies the creature as a “Jew Rat.”

mtamimi-jew-rat

The comment Manal Tamimi added to the image – “Hhhhhhh palestinian and zionists” – equated Palestinians with the Nazi figure, which was a somewhat surprising departure from her usual habit of denouncing Israelis as Nazis or “zioNazists”. When an obviously well-meaning Twitter user warned her in Arabic* that she had posted “a picture of Nazism” even though “the Palestinians are more honorable than the Nazis, they are defending their land and their freedom,” Manal Tamimi confidently declared: “The important thing is the idea, we the Palestinians are the ones who are going to teach Israel a lesson, we are going to hurt them and we will achieve victory over them as well.”

Perhaps she just meant to say something like “Sieg Heil”?

*Translations from Arabic courtesy of Ibn Boutros; since the Tamimis sometimes delete posts that attract widespread public criticism, the post is archived here.

First published at Elder of Ziyon.