Who is Max Blumenthal, why is he a Hillary Clinton Israel Svengali, and does he pose as big a headache for Hillary as Jeremiah Wright did for Barack Obama?
The well-known proverb declares you can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep.
Last summer, in the wake of the impending Iran deal that she herself helped to create and vocally supported, Hillary reached out to calm the jitters of her wealthiest Democratic Jewish supporters in an attempt to convince them that she would always support Israel. She also emphasized that she utterly condemns the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement that Israel is currently facing.
But she has been a harsh critic of the Jewish state, often relishing her role. During a speech in 2012 she spoke of Israel's "lack of generosity" and "lack of empathy" towards the Palestinians. She admitted that during her time as Secretary of State she oftentimes was the "designated yeller" at PM Netanyahu. She once yelled at him for 45 minutes when Israel granted permits to build houses in the Eastern neighborhoods of its capital Jerusalem during Joe Biden's visit to Israel.
But with the recent dumps of emails from Hillary's private Internet server the public has received an in-depth look at very important role that Sidney Blumenthal played for Hillary during her time in the Obama administration.
Blumenthal is one of Hillary's closest advisers and a longtime family friend. He was a senior adviser during Bill Clinton's presidency and served again as senior adviser for Hillary's failed 2008 run for the White House.
Blumenthal was clearly a man whose advice Hillary trusted and she was willing to pay him $10,000 a month for his services. However the information coming to light paints a troubled picture.
What they show is a slew of anti-Israel writings and opinions, many of which originated from articles written by Blumenthal's own son Max Blumenthal.
Max is a writer and self declared "anti-Zionist," known for his active support of the BDS movement and his calls for the dismantling of the state of Israel. He trolls pro-Israel writers, as I can personally attest. Max's widely panned 2013 book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel is full of anti-Israel rants, omissions, and outright lies. In it, he repeatedly compares the Jewish State to the Nazis in his chapter titles ("The Concentration Camp," "The Night of Broken Glass," "This Belongs to the White Man" and "How to Kill Goyim and Influence People"), and advocates that the majority of Jews currently living in Israel must be removed from the land to make way for a Palestinian state*. Mimicking the Islamic States' acronym ISIL, Max created the hashtag #JSIL -- Jewish state in the Levant. To Max, the democratic state of Israel and ISIL are morally equivalent entities.
His opinions are seen as radical leftist claptrap even by left-leaning detractors of the Jewish state. The Nation columnist Eric Alterman -- himself a critic of Israel's presence in the West bank -- described how the book "could have been published by the Hamas Book-of-the-Month Club." J.J. Goldberg of the Forward described Goliath as an "unpleasant book." By contrast, David Duke, the racist former Klan leader, implicitly praised Blumenthal's book by featuring it on his website.
What is truly concerning is that Sidney Blumenthal has not only failed to ever condemn his son's anti-Israel writings, but has actively advocated for and defended the warped, outrageous ideas conveyed therein. In fact, after learning of Alterman's critique of Max's book, Blumenthal began sending out emails attacking Alterman and supporting his son's shoddy and repugnant anti-Israel scholarship. One such email included an article from the radical anti-Zionist website Mondoweiss (who loved the book and whom Max has written for in the past) attacking Alterman's review.
But even more concerning than all of this is that Hillary Clinton, the nation's Chief diplomat, valued Max Blumenthal's disturbed anti-Israel rants so much that she forked out $120,000 a year to his dad to keep the flow of information coming.
Among the emails Sidney Blumenthal sent to Hillary is a link to a November 2010 blog post written by his son. In it, Max attempts to equate the views and policies of far right Dutch politician Geert Wilders with those of Israel. Max goes so far as to claim that Wilders learned from, and formulated his views as a result of his living in Israel. Max writes, "Israel's mainstream leadership echoes Wilders' crudest talking points on a regular basis." Max describes how, "the extreme right [in Europe] is also attracted to Israel because the country represents its highest ideals. While some critics see Israel as a racist apartheid state, people like Wilders see Israel as a racist apartheid state -- and they like it."
He continues, "They richly enjoy when Israel mows down Arab Muslims by the dozens and tells the world to go to hell; they admire Israel's settler culture." Max also writes, "most of all, they yearn to live in a land like Israel that privileges its ethnic majority above all others to the point that it systematically humiliates and dispossesses the swarthy racial outclass." He adds, "The endgame of the far-right is to make Europe less tolerant and more Israeli."
What was Hillary's response to this racist, anti-Israel tirade? She writes back to Blumenthal, "A very smart piece - as usual."
Before her speech to AIPAC in March of 2010, Blumenthal sent Hillary a column written by Uri Avnery claiming Israel was pursuing goals contrary to the United States' interests while "starting a rebellion" against the U.S. Hillary's response to Blumenthal was "I have to speak to AIPAC tomorrow. How -- and should I -- use this?"
Blumenthal responds that with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Hillary should, "Hold Bibi's feet to the fire." Blumenthal also recommended to Hillary to try and mention in a positive light the George Soros-funded Israel organization J Street, which is fiercely critical of the Jewish State.
Blumenthal tells Hillary to "remind [AIPAC] in as subtle but also direct a way as you can that it does not have a monopoly over American Jewish opinion. Bibi is stage managing US Jewish organizations (and neocons, and the religious right, and whomever else he can muster) against the administration. AIPAC itself has become an organ of the Israeli right, specifically Likud."
Holding Netanyahu's feet to the fire, advocating for J Street, and courting favor with AIPAC while simultaneously viewing them as a conspiracy organization being wielded against the interests of the United States? These are the musings of Hillary Clinton as she considers American policy toward Israel.
Blumenthal also offered some truly bizarre analysis in an email to Hillary in the aftermath of the 2010 Gaza Flotilla raid. During that operation Israeli soldiers boarded a Turkish vessel approaching the Gaza Strip, where they were brutally attacked, stabbed, and thrown off ledges by the ship's passengers, resulting in a shootout and casualties, as video evidence of the event makes clear. However, back in May of that year, before any of the facts had been properly clarified, Blumenthal provided Hillary with an armchair psychoanalysis of the events in which he states, "Bibi desperately seeks his father's approbation and can never equal his dead brother." Blumenthal explains that this must be what led Netanyahu to order the operation, adding, "The raid on the ship to Gaza resembles the raid on Entebbe [in which Netanyahu's brother was killed] except that there are no hostages, no guns (on the Turkish ship), it's not in Africa, and it's a fiasco; otherwise, it's Entebbe."
Throughout all of this, there is no email showing Hillary objecting to any of these anti-Israel articles and opinions that Blumenthal continually sent her. And even to this day, in light of all these damning exchanges, Hillary has yet to apologize or publicly distance herself from Sidney or Max Blumenthal.
Will Hillary disassociate herself from the crackpot anti-Israel theories of Max Blumenthal? We're all waiting to see.
*As J.J. Goldberg writes in his review of Goliath:
Of all the aftershocks in the Blumenthal saga, though, none is more telling than his October 17 appearance at the University of Pennsylvania. His host was political scientist Ian Lustick, author of the September 15 New York Times essay, "The Two-State Illusion," which argued for a single Israeli-Palestinian state.
Almost halfway through their 83-minute encounter (minute 34:00 on YouTube), Lustick emotionally asks Blumenthal whether he believes, like Abraham at Sodom, that there are enough "good people" in Israel to justify its continued existence -- or whether he's calling for a mass "exodus," the title of his last chapter, and "the end of Jewish collective life in the land of Israel."
Blumenthal gives a convoluted answer that comes down to this: "There should be a choice placed to the settler-colonial population" (meaning the entire Jewish population of Israel): "Become indigenized," that is, "you have to be part of the Arab world." Or else...? "The maintenance and engineering of a non-indigenous demographic majority is non-negotiable."
Shmuley Boteach, "America's Rabbi," whom the Washington Post calls "the most famous Rabbi in America," is founder of The World Values Network and is the international best-selling author of 30 books, including "Wrestling with the Divine" and "The Fed-Up Man of Faith," both of which deal with the problem of human suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.