Video: My Democracy Now! debate on Gaza with “liberal” Zionist J.J. Goldberg

On Democracy Now! today I debated J.J. Goldberg, editor-at-large and columnist at the newspaper The Jewish Daily Forward.

The discussion was ostensibly focused on US media coverage of Gaza, but I think Goldberg’s performance more accurately displayed the ways that “liberal” Zionists use euphemisms to obscure from view – their own and others’ – the full horror of Israel’s ongoing pogrom in Gaza and its decades of relentless violence and massacres against Palestinians.

Goldberg, while appearing critical of Israel, was actually advancing its most pernicious talking points, the goal of which is to blame Palestinian victims for their own deaths and to falsely portray Israel as the victim.

It was not easy to maintain my composure in the face of this. Just before the show, I had been looking at tweets from my friend Refaat Alareer, the editor of the book Gaza Writes Back.

Refaat is from the Shujaiya neighborhood in eastern Gaza City, but he is currently out of Palestine, far from his family. His neighborhood has been destroyed and dozens of its people killed in an ongoing Israeli massacre.

It is a small thing, but I offer this appearance on Democracy Now! as a gift to my friend Refaat.

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I would like to take a moment to say thank you to all the Jews who have worked so tirelessly for decades to protect the Palestinians and to end the Occupation. I know there is some anti-Jew rhetoric that is beginning to circulate, but everyone needs to know - all Jews are not Zionists, and some of the greatest activists for peace I have ever known have been of the Jewish faith. We cannot fall into the same hate-based rhetoric as the Zionists when we talk about the Jews, or we are no better than they. I also agree with the first post - Ali Abunimah kicked ass!!!!!!

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as long as Bibi HITLER"-the BUTCHER of GAZA lives there will
be NO peace in PALESTINE-ISREAL!
Concerned Jewish peace loving CITIZENS like urself,JEWISH VOICE 4PEACE,
& Other NGOS pro PALEST must unite TOGETHER & enter ISREAL POLITICS!
If ur Party coalition wins..then PEACE can be negotiated with
PALESTINE...God willing!

so u must form a Party Coalition in Next election..TOPPLE THE EVIL PARTIES like
BB HITLER@BUTCHER OF GAZA.
If 1 among u becum PRIME MINISTER OF ISREAL....PEACE WILL PREVAIL!

To ALL NON ZIONIST PEACEFUL JEWS IN ISREAL; WE FROM MALAYSIA
THANK U ALL FOR BEING NORMAL HUMANS!
MAY GOD BLESS U!

Muhammad & Friends..
MALAYSIA

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I absolutely agree and many Arabs need to learn the difference between Judaism and zionism. Judaism that Muslims and Christians faiths share a great deal. This can only be achieved by eduacation and constant education. The Arab World needs to learn that zionism does not include some Jews only, but includes Chritians and Muslims as well as the war mongers who financially benifit out of the suuffering of the warring parties. Let us call for ONE STATE for all in Palestine. This is the Palestinian dream Muslims, Christians and Jews.

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Ali, you're a GENIUS!
The fact that Zionists like JJ Goldberg (and most Israelis) don't even know how to pronounce Hamas shows how disconnected they are from the region and its native culture and language. This is the first time I've seen them disabused on this issue.
I admire you. Keep up the good fight!

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"disconnected from the region and its native culture and language" -- alright, most criticism of zionists is valid, but this statement does not contain even a grain of truth. let me remind you that jews are semites. "semitic" literally means originating from southwestern asia, incl. akkadians, canaanites, phoenicians, jews, and arabs. moreover, hebrew and arabic share the same origin--aramaic (these are some of the semitic languages). if you speak one of the modern languages, you can understand a significant portion of the other. besides, a large chunk of the jewish population--sefardic and misrachi jews--lived in arab countries for hundreds of years and are thus arab jews, most of whom converse primarily in arabic (even those who live in israel today communicate often using arabic). to try and separate the jewish narrative from the arab one is not only counterproductive but also factually incorrect.

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Ali, you killed it on there. Full stop. But I have to ask why use "pogrom", a word for massacres of Jews by Russians in Eastern Europe? And why the constant use of chutzpah? If you weren't debating a Jew would you have used these words? It seems unfair, or a cheap shot, to deploy these words against Israel and against Jews when they are plenty of others that may better describe what is happening in Gaza and JJ's "chutzpah". It seemed like you were mocking his Jewishness, which isn't right and doesn't help us one bit. It may make our Jewish allies shy away from solidarity with the movement. Our side is the side of justice, our side does not need cheap shots.

I'm not saying this took away from what you said, it just struck me as really strange and bizarre.

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I can't speak for Ali, but here's why I think he used the word pogrom.

A lot of Zionist discourse holds that Jewish suffering is unique and beyond compare. I think Ali deliberately used that word to challenge JJ Goldberg and see whether he would try and hierarchize Jewish suffering by claiming saying the word pogrom is only valid when it is inflicted on Jews. As a Jew whose family fled pogroms in Ukraine, I think Ali's use is absolutely valid and justified. He is calling a spade a spade while trying to break down the Zionist tenet of unique Jewish suffering.

As for Chutzpah, I think he also deliberately used that because JJ Goldberg mispronounced Hamas (with a KH sound, just as many Israelis pronounce it, because they are unfamiliar with basic Arabic sounds). I find it absurd that so many Israelis, who live in the heart of the Arab world, are so estranged from the indigenous language and sounds of the region. Pronouncing Chutzpah (with a "tsh") is simply a subtle poke by Ali to show how ridiculous it sounds when Zionists mispronounce Arabic names.

That's just my opinion though.

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To Shelly, I totally agree with you about the use of the words in context of the debate. I had noticed the mispronunciation of the word Chutzpah and also felt it was intentional. The use of the word Pogrom and mispronunciation of the word Chutzpah were brilliantly used debating tactics.

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That seems logical to me, I was wondering why Ali, who is very well versed in hebrew, fluent if I'm not mistaken, would make such a mistake.

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I am Scandinavian, not Jewish. I am an atheist. I agree with Albin. Even if you are rightly very upset and angry you must be careful not to open up for those who think that it is about hating and wanting to kill Jewish people for for being Jews. Neither to those who genuinely think so nor those who will use it as an excuse for defending Israels actions. If JJ honestly thinks that he would be shot if he visits Gaza you should aid him to understand that it is not so. Only way forward. He is clearly more reasonable than Israels government.

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Ali, I cannot thank you enough for your relentless effort to cut through the fog of Zionist propaganda to communicate the true horrors of Israel's destruction of Palestine. Thank you for your tireless work in demolishing this kind of rhetoric and fighting back against the appalling attempts to blame Palestinians for their own slaughter. You are an undeniable voice of moral clarity, and a source of strength and determination to me and many others.

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Ali Abunimah, your appearance on Democracy Now was a gift to us all! That one will live forever on my ipod!!
You said what we all wish we knew how to say, and with such passion. Not only does the media ignore Palestinian voices (Democracy Now does it too) but it also ignores the voices of Americans who oppose the massacres our country keeps supporting. It felt GOOD to hear you raise your voice and SAY what we feel. We are SICK of hearing Israel's talking points!
And that's exactly what the Forward editor did - list talking points, but he sounded like he forgot them (so Nermeen Sheik tried to help him remember some - what was that?) and you didn't let that become the point of the segment.

THANKS for THAT !!! We want more of it !!

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whoever it is that is commenting on the use of the word chutzpah, SERIOUSLY, if it's a BAD word, it applies to the zionist who finds massacres monotonous.
(though I would call that soemone without a soul.)
if it's a GOOD word, thsn we should all have the chutzpah to say what's really going on in Gaza and how we here in the US are really responsible for it. Those are AMERICAN made F-16's and AMERICAN money paying for the loser zionists who can't do it without OUR money. more chutzpah, please.
any commenter complaining about using the word chutzpah is missing the point that zionist editor was teetered slightly by it so that the Palestinian voice got heard instead of the zionist talking points FOR A CHANGE.
It was BRILLIANT and we want MORE of it PLEASE.
thank you EI and Ali A!!!

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Mr. Abunimah,

This was the first time I heard your name and was very happy to hear such an articulate and passionate mind so clearly express the reality of what is happening in Gaza. It is such a relief to find you! The deafening backdrop of pro-war propaganda can leave one feeling overwhelmed and isolated from like-minded, concerned individuals who share your repulsion and rage at witnessing the massacre of innocent people daily.

Thank you again for your unwavering denouncing of Israel's pogrom in the occupied territories. Please continue your good work and long live the Palestinian people!

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Is there any HARD evidence that this DOME system actually works? Or is that what the Zionists are using as a cover for the fact that missiles from Gaza are in fact ineffective and killing no one in Israel?

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In fact, the Iron Dome system has at best been tested as shooting down 40% of primitive missiles using 19th century technology. A couple of days into the attack on Gaza a new report said that more than 700 missiles had been launched into Israel and that 111 had been intercepted. Even that has been challenged.

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Just as I thought there is no evidence that this Iron Dome is saving any lives. Nothing has changed as far as rocket/missile civil defense. It's Israel's early warning and quick sheltering system that is preventing civilian casualties. Even a direct frontal hit on a rocket doesn't mean the rocket is destroyed. The Iron Dome may on occasion hit the rocket but it isn't detonating the warhead. For some reason it's hitting the rockets from behind or the side which is ineffective for interception. It has to hit the rocket from the front to have any hope of detonating the warhead. So what they are really doing is just redirecting the rockets which hardly counts as civil defense since the rockets afaik can't even be aimed in the first place

I'd like to know how many rockets are actually being fired from Gaza btw

And I'd like to know who it is that's firing them. My guess is at least half if not all are being fired by Israeli collaborators. False flags giving Israel the pretext it needs to continue it's Gaza massacre

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Mr. Goldberg seems very out of touch with reality ... he seems to be lacking a gene ... and I don't say that in a mean way ... he is lacking ... those people are dead, DEAD ~ soldiers, infants, mothers, fathers ~ all members of the same human family and they are being tallied as if it's a score?! ... that is what is being accomplished and he argues, with acerbic condescension, definition and pronunciation ... comfortable, pointless perspective which has NOTHING to do with the reality of the situation ... one would argue that the interview was about news media and it's representation ... why even give the media any credit for truth or lies? There is an elephant in the room people and the emperor is naked.

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Ali,
Oh, how I love thee!!!!

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We must all remember what the genesis of all the Palestinian problems is; they are a disenfranchised mutilated and savaged peoples in their own ancient homelands, they are subjected to these great injustices because corrupt politicians from Britain and France signed away their rights without bothering to consult them. Also let us not forget that Israel came into being as a result of horrendous terrorist activities perpetrated by Jewish Zionist terror gangs. The Palestinian peoples are innocents midst all of this distinctly un-godly crime and murder infecting the Middle East and Arabs in particular. Having said that, we might contemplate why it is, the great Arab Nations continue to let it happen, the answer, I fear, is that they have all accepted their Thirty Shekels, to one extent or another, their renowned pride and honour sold for a pittance, to their everlasting collective shame.

What, I muse, has happened to that much used and lauded, "Policy to Protect"? Did not the great U.S.A. intervene to protect Iraqis from Saddam? The Libyans from Gaddhafii? The Syrians from Assad? The Ukrainians from Putin? and dozens of other interventions too numerous to mention here. Just a very small fraction of what they spent prosecuting all these interventions, could have purchased a just settlement, and development, including for their own State, for the long suffering Palestinian Peoples. Is there any more urgent and deserving cause in the World?
And to place this in the present day context we arrive at the point where Israelis "capture" a Palestinian teen, force him to drink petrol , POUR IT OVER HIM, and then set him on fire, the official autopsy gives all the detail. This single act forewarns the World as to exactly what these Israeli Jews and their God is capable of.

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“You take my water
Burn my olive trees
Destroy my house
Take my job
Steal my land
Imprison my father
Kill my mother
Bomb my country
Starve us all
Humiliate us all
But … I am to blame: I shot a rocket back.”

(Placard first seen in Gaza, 2012.)

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J J Goldberg's claim at 10:30 that "Hamas came into power in Gaza by murdering leaders of Fatah" is a total lie!

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Thank you for this courageous appearance on DemocracyNow!
It is inspiring.

The only thing I'd like to point out that is in JJ Goldberg's use of the disgusting term "monotony of massacre," he is admitting that Israel is commiting a massacre ('an indiscriminate and brutal slaughter of people') in Gaza. No small point in my opinion.

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I have been trying (but failed) to find, in the main stream media here in the UK, to follow what was happening daily in Gaza...the main-stream is definitely downplaying the crisis that the Palestinian people are experiencing. The Electronica Intifada site is the only place I actually could find anything credible and believable. I find it absolutely shocking that Israel is persistently given a free pass to commit these atrocities and NEVER so much as a slap on the wrist do they receive from the international community. It is time the world actually woke from its mind numbing slumber and pay attention....the world is descending into absolute chaos and the perpetrators are just laying back and watching Hell be unleashed on the innocent....its absolute MADNESS and time it STOPPED!!!

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"Michael B. Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States, invoked the Hebrew phrase “Im kvar az kvar,” roughly akin to “in for a dime, in for a dollar.”
“If we’re getting slammed, we might as well go all the way,” Mr. Oren said to sum up the Israeli mood. “One of the big checks on Israel has been the fear of being isolated, the fear of being branded as immoral,” he said. “It’s having the exact opposite impact on policy — rather than being a check, it’s being a catalyst, it’s a motivating factor.”

The idea of the Israelis EVER living in peace with Arabs rather than trying to exterminate them, has become grotesque. It will not and can not happen.

We can't HAVE a Jewish state any more. If it isn't destroyed, there is an excellent chance the Israelis will put an end to life on earth with their nuclear arsenal—something they have repeatedly threatened. If we don't recognize this as a VERY real possibility, we are fooling ourselves.

No two state.
No one state.
No ISRAEL.

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Well said Ali, this madness has to stop now and this is not just about the current terrible situation in Gaza look at how Israel has systematically pushed into the west bank and still does if any other country in the world was doing this there would be an uproar.

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Whenever you debate a Zionist, if you ever get frustrated, just remember one thing: you're not the one defending/justifying the killing of innocent babies.

Israel has one of the most advanced army's in the world, so if their civilian kill rate is 80%, either they SUCK at war, or it's intentional. We all know the answer. Today they dropped flyers asking gazans to defect: to email them the locations of resistance fighters and weapons stores. Are they that stupid to think gazans would betray their defenders? Or just desperate. This also shows that their intelligence sucks!!

Am worried about their nukes though. They've shown how foolish they are. The world will be surprised that all this time we have been chasing the boogeyman (Iran), and the "peace loving, only democracy in the Middle East" Israel will reveal its true, grotesque self (which some of us have seen clearly for years). Btw - gazans elected Hamas in what the USA called the freest and fairest elections ever held in the region. Democracy? Also, Iran was the only democracy in the Middle East in 1950, before the US overthrew the government in a coup.

One funny note: no politician in the USA can say a word against Israel, we all know this. But the past few days, Israeli politicians have been tearing John Kerry a new a******. Funny huh? Those guys (Israelis) truly believe they are above all else and can do whatever they want. And as long as the US continues to be on Israel's leash, they probably will get away with it all. Another funny thing: the US gives Israel 3 billion a year in aid, then this money comes back in the form of AIPAC to control government policies. That ensures Israel keeps getting more money, which comes back to the US only to give more to Israel......... While American cities go bankrupt, water is shut off, 75% of bridges are structurally unsafe (WTF!), more and more money goes to Israel. Americans are blind. Their government serves another nation. I'm pretty sure that's treason.

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.