(July 17, 2015 / JNS)
It has not been a good month for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Not only is Bernie Sanders coming up on her in the clubhouse turn, but Hillary’s recently exposed emails reveal praise for professional anti-Semite Max Blumenthal. The likes of this sort of praise have not been seen since the notorious David Duke commended Blumenthal for exposing the evils of Zionism despite his Jewish name and Jewish face.
In all fairness, Hillary’s praise was for Blumenthal’s earlier book, “Republican Gomorrah,” where Max showed that his contempt for Christians could rival his contempt for Jews. We should remember that Max’s father, Sidney Blumenthal, has been a longstanding, trusted advisor to the Clinton brand. And Sidney has had no hesitation in publicly and actively defending his son’s most recent anti-Semitic screed, “Goliath.”
This is not Hillary’s first rodeo with an anti-Semitic theme. Immediately after Suha Arafat (Mrs. Yasser) publicly launched an anti-Semitic blood libel at a public forum, accusing Israeli soldiers of shooting Palestinian children for their body parts, Hillary was out the gate to give Suha a warm hug, as if affirming the veracity of her statement.
Jewish liberals, in lock step with Hillary’s own convoluted explanation of this outrage, rendered this exquisite rationale for Hillary’s behavior—Mrs. Arafat must have lectured in Arabic, and Hillary did not understand what she said. Clinton would eventually go that route and try to save face and blame it on a mistranslation in her ear. Nonetheless, “in the Middle East,” Mrs. Clinton said, “a kiss is a handshake.”
I doubt if most Jewish liberals will bother to read Max Blumenthal’s “Goliath” because to do so would confront them with the political dissonance that is easily avoided by studied ignorance. Max’s book is obsessed with comparing the Israel Defense Forces to the Nazis and replays every canard about Israel that could be heard at a chapter meeting of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In fact, liberal writer Eric Alterman, who reviewed “Goliath” for “The Nation,” wrote that it “could have been published by the Hamas Book-of-the-Month Club.” After Alterman’s review appeared, Sidney Blumenthal launched an email campaign attacking Alterman.
As foreign affairs confidant to Hillary Clinton, Sidney Blumenthal’s views on Israel should be a campaign issue. After all, ignoring President Barack Obama’s associations prevented the Jewish community from anticipating both his hostility toward Israel and his pursuit of the disastrous agreement with Iran. That mistake should not be compounded in assessing Hillary.
Longtime friend and supporter of the Clintons, retired Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, said that Sidney Blumenthal’s advocacy of his son’s book could damage Hillary’s primary run. Dershowitz professed an understanding of how a father would want to protect his son, but then went on to note the obvious. When your son is a bigot, and expresses views that are akin to those of the KKK, Hamas, and anti-Semites generally, it is time to dissociate oneself from those views.
Max Blumenthal is not only anti-Semitic, he is also anti-American. As journalist Rick Moran notes, Max compared American sniper and war hero Chris Kyle to the notorious John Lee Malvo, the mass murderer who shot people in the District of Columbia area at random from a hole in the trunk of his car. The comparison is the product of the mind of an ideologue who thinks his vitriol somehow rises to the level of intellectual insight.
Dershowitz is right about Max Blumenthal, but he is wrong about this being a campaign issue. Given a choice between their allegiance to liberal policies and their Judaism, liberal Jews will embrace the liberal political agenda even at the cost of the existence of the Jewish state. These folks have come to believe that tikkun olam (repairing the world) is best exercised by a political philosophy that will seize money from Peter and transfer it to Paul.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center listed Max Blumenthal ninth on its list of the top 10 progenitors of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel slurs.
But as Jewish liberals would probably say, what does the Wiesenthal Center know about anti-Semitism, anyhow?
Hillary has nothing to fear from her relationship with Sidney and Max Blumenthal. After all, it is not as if Max Blumenthal said something disparaging about African-Americans or put his foot in his mouth like Donald Trump with regard to illegal immigrants. Now, those are issues for which liberal Jews will take to the barricades.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a senior fellow with the Salomon Center for American Jewish Thought (@salomoncenter).