One could — and should — ignore Blumenthal’s book. It is disconcerting to find, however, that on December 4th, the New America Foundation is having a book talk by Blumenthal, introduced by the noted counter-terrorism expert and best-selling author Peter Bergen. The announcement for the talk calls Blumenthal’s book “an unflinching, unprecedented work of journalism which depicts a startling portrait of Israeli society under siege from increasingly authoritarian politics.”
For those who don’t know, NAF is the leading Democratic liberal and pro-Obama think tank in Washington, D.C. It was created as a liberal alternative to the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. Former administration member Anne-Marie Slaughter, who served as director of policy planning at the State Department from 2009 to 2011, now heads it. Its board includes Fareed Zakaria, Francis Fukuyama, Atul A. Gawande, James Fallows, and many other notables.
I doubt whether the NAF staff consulted many of them about the decision to sponsor a talk, or if they even are aware it is taking place. But one cannot take lightly the decision of the organization to have this event. There are many worthwhile books out there with liberal authors who would have been happy to make a presentation at their venue. To bring Blumenthal, whose work has so far had an appeal only to the far Left and to the radical fringe, is to legitimize this book and make its publication accessible to a wider audience that is outside Nation magazine circles and that otherwise would not have known about it.