The Conspiracy

Does Max Blumenthal know who he’s talking to?

Anyone who wants to make an intelligent contribution to the discourse on the proposed Israeli loyalty oath should know that drunk 18-year old Americans are not a representative sample of Israeli or Jewish society. Jenny Merkin knows that. I’m pretty sure Brandon Springer knows that too.

I’m not sure that Max Blumenthal knows that.

In a video that Blumenthal posted on his site last month, he interviews a series of people in the city center of Jerusalem and asks them to swear by a loyalty oath modeled after the oath of the Wehrmacht, Hitler’s army. Most of the interviewees do take the oath, some quite enthusiastically pledging to risk their lives for the “Jewish state” and the “Jewish army.” As Brandon says, this is supposed to be a damning portrayal of how anybody, including Jews, is susceptible to the temptations of fascism.

That would be a great point, except for that most of the people Blumenthal talks to are 18- or 19-year old Americans cavorting in town late at night. I don’t know if Max Blumenthal did stupid things when he was 18, but he’s certainly doing them now if he thinks that we should take this seriously as an indicator of where Jews, Americans or Israelis stand on the loyalty oath. I don’t think this is indicative of anything except for the fact that when you’re 18, studying in Israel for the year and out on the town, you’re liable to do things without thinking about their ramifications.

If Blumenthal is presenting this as any kind of sample of the Jewish, Israeli or American communities, he is indeed being disingenuous, as Jenny said. I agree.

But maybe Blumenthal isn’t interested in having a serious discussion. Maybe all he’s interested in doing is taking advantage of the carelessness of 18-year old kids. If that’s the case, I wish he would stop.

A lot of people–including me and several others at this magazine–have serious, content-based problems with the proposed oath. To combat it, we’re attempting to articulate to our readers why we think it’s bad. We may not succeed in impeding the oath’s passage, but at least we’re being honest in our efforts. I’m not sure I can say the same about Blumenthal.

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10 Older Responses to “Does Max Blumenthal know who he’s talking to?”

  1. Elle Weiss
    October 21, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

    Max Blumenthal has an agenda against Israel, is this really surprising that he’d use a bunch of drunk just post high school kids as political fodder?

  2. Harpo Jaeger
    October 22, 2010 at 5:12 pm #

    I’ve watched the video and it really doesn’t seem like everyone there is drunk. It’s probably true that they’re out having a god time, but it’s a Wednesday night (9/8/10), and there’s no reason to assume they’re all wasted.
    Whether or not you agree with Blumenthal’s conclusion, I think he’s being perfectly honest in his efforts. He wants to show that fascism doesn’t come with bells and whistles and a nametag, and he did. Normal people rationalized taking his oath by saying “I’m pro-Israel.” It’s a striking example of how being “pro-” something regardless of the situation can often undercut rational analysis.

  3. walt kovacs
    October 26, 2010 at 5:32 pm #


    max is a fraud…his man on the street interviews are just like those of jay leno…for entertainment purposes only….they are heavily edited and prove nothing…

    however, they do feed into the jew and israel hate that max wishes to promote

  4. Harpo Jaeger
    October 27, 2010 at 8:05 am #

    wait kovacs: max is a fraud
    If you define a fraud as someone who edits their video, then yes. I’d call him a filmmaker.
    …the jew and israel hate that max wishes to promote
    When all else fails, make baseless accusations on motive. I’d be interested to here what you’re basing this on.

  5. J
    October 27, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

    Harpo – Max is the last person to be talking about loyalty oaths since he said that Chuck Schumer belongs in the Knesset rather than the Senate – basically echoing the Right Wing in Israel’s call for Palestinian lawmakers to leave the Knesset and go to Ramallah or Gaza. And yes, its obvious he hates Israel – he said at NYU the other night that his goal is to end Zionism in Jewish thought and Jewish life.

  6. J
    October 27, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

    Harpo – and yes since Max Blumenthal himself based his ridiculous assertion that the IDF fabricated audio because it was “edited” than that leaves him open to the same charge.

  7. Harpo Jaeger
    October 28, 2010 at 5:27 pm #

    J: I agree with you that saying Schumer belongs in the Knesset rather than the senate is dumb, but I don’t think it’s comparable to the Israeli right’s attack on Palestinian lawmakers. Max’s point seems to be that Schumer is basically a shill for Israel, and has very little to add to a meaningful discussion on the nature of US-Israeli relations, so he might as well be a member of the Israeli government. He’s only partially right about Schumer, but he’s not saying he should be sent out because of his religion, he’s remarking on Schumer’s political stance.
    Furthermore, being an anti-Zionist isn’t the same as “hating Israel.” I’m opposed to religious governments, but I don’t hate Israel (or Saudi Arabia, for that matter).
    Just a clarification: the audio fabrication thing – are we talking about the flotilla raid?

  8. J
    October 31, 2010 at 6:44 pm #

    Harper – there is no difference between what Max said about Schumer and what the Israeli right says about Arab Knesset members. Your justification for what he said about Schumer can be said for what goes on in Israel – simply replace Schumer with Zoabi and shill for Israel with Shill for the Palestinians. The right doesnt hate Arab lawmmakers because of their religion. There are Druze members of the Likud and even Druze members in Yisrael Beiteinu – there are Bedouin IDF soldiers – the right has no problem with these people – they have a problem with who they percieve to be anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian including Jewish leftists – just like Max has a problem with Schumer and therefore implies that he is loyal to a foreign entity rather than the country he serves as a lawmaker.

    And yes – Max has said that Yehayu Leibowitz was right – the man who called Israel a Judeo-Nazi state, and his partner Joseph Dana in the video favors one Palestinian state where Israel is eliminated and Jews live as a minority in that state. If all this isnt hating Israel then we are just arguing semantics. Also, he says James o Keefe is a racist because he embarressed african-americans in his acorn video – what does that make Max by his own logic in his videos?

  9. J
    October 31, 2010 at 6:45 pm #

    and yea – Max said the IDF fabricated its audio of the Flotilla radio traffic because it was “edited” – look it up yourself

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