By B. Cohen
Less than one month after being indefinitely banned from entering the German parliament following an attempted violent assault on Gregor Gysi, the parliamentary leader of that country’s Left Party, the American anti-Semitic propagandist Max Blumenthal has been handed an opportunity to rescue his sullied reputation by no less than the New York Times – a move decried by a prominent American Jewish leader as “breaching a red line.”
In an article for the Times’ “Room for Debate” section on the proposed “Jewish State bill” that is being energetically discussed in Israel, Blumenthal attacks the “Zionist project” as an inherently racist endeavor.
But in an indication of Blumenthal’s contempt for accurate reporting about Israel, the paper was forced to publish a correction within hours of the piece appearing, after Blumenthal falsely claimed that the Prawer Plan – a bill that would have regulated the settlement of Beduin in the Negev area, but which was shelved last December – had been implemented.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, blasted the New York Times for “insulting” those on the Zionist left in Israel who are opposed to the bill by selecting Blumenthal, “who believes that Zionism is racism,” to make the case against it.
Cooper told The Algemeiner that he welcomed a “healthy, multi-layered” debate about the bill. “But when you invite someone who conflates the illusory crimes of Israel with the Holocaust, then a red line has been crossed,” he said.
Blumenthal, who is of Jewish origin, has made a career of sorts in demonizing Israel as a carbon copy of Nazi Germany. More recently, he has begun describing Israel as JSIL – an acronym that stands for “Jewish State in the Levant,” designed to provoke a direct comparison with the genocidal Islamic State terrorist organization.
Blumenthal’s book-length screed “Goliath,” which contains chapter titles such as “The Concentration Camp” and “How to Kill Goyim and Influence People,” was lambasted by critics on the right and left. Eric Alterman, a left-wing writer and academic, scorned Blumenthal for his “juvenile faux-cleverness” and accused him of being “deliberately deceptive.”
Such appraisals did not, however, prevent Blumenthal’s father Sidney, a close adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton, from waging a private email campaign against Alterman and from holding a launch party for his son’s book.
In November, Max Blumenthal traveled to Germany with an obscure Canadian film-maker named David Sheen at the invitation of anti-Zionist members of the Left Party, the successor organization to the old East German Communist Party. But when party leader Gregor Gysi was alerted to Blumenthal’s anti-Semitic statements and associations – he has been praised by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and by Frazier Glenn Cross, a neo-Nazi who murdered two people during a shooting spree at a Jewish community center near Kansas City – he immediately canceled the meeting at the German parliament.
Shortly after this announcement, Blumenthal and Sheen cornered Gysi and chased him along a corridor in the German parliament. As the terrified Gysi, who suffers from a heart condition, tried to escape them by locking himself in a bathroom, Sheen, at this point consumed by a fit of violent hysteria, attempted to force the door open, flanked by an equally outraged Blumenthal. Their combined action led Norbert Lammert, the president of the German parliament, to announce an indefinite ban on their entry to the building, saying that “every attempt to exert pressure on members of parliament, to physically threaten them and thus endanger the parliamentary process is intolerable and must be prevented.”
Blumenthal’s subsequent appearance in the pages of the New York Times was described by Gilead Ini, a senior analyst with media watchdog CAMERA, as evidence that the “downward spiral at the New York Times Opinion pages continues.”
“Now they are publishing the fringe demagogue Max Blumenthal, whom far-left German politicians recently described as an anti-Semite,” Ini said.
Rabbi Cooper pointed out that in 2013, Blumenthal featured in the Wiesenthal Center’s “top 10″ list of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel slurs and revealed that the propagandist would again make the list for 2014, because of his assault on Gysi. He called on Jews at both “the grassroots and leadership” levels to make clear to the New York Times management that publishing the anti-Semite has “nothing to do with freedom of speech, but is about mainstreaming someone who hates Israel.”
A similar concern about Blumenthal’s impact on mainstream coverage of the Middle East was underlined by the Israel writer Petra Marquardt-Bigman in a briefing paper on Blumenthal published by the Louis Brandeis Center, a legal advocacy group. The acceptance of Blumenthal’s analogizing of Israel and Nazi Germany, she wrote, sends an “unmistakable signal that it is now “salonfähig” – acceptable in polite company – to assert that Israel is like Nazi Germany and to insist that this is a reasonable, well-supported view that must be considered perfectly valid unless proven wrong.”