Category Archives: Goliath
Amy Goodman, of Democracy Now, interviews Max Blumenthal on his latest book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel.
But here are a few snippets. On the “banality” of racism in contemporary Israel:
AMY GOODMAN: What were you most surprised by in your research for your book Goliath?
MAX BLUMENTHAL: I was most surprised at the banality of the racism and violence that I witnessed and how it’s so—it’s so widely tolerated, because it’s so common. And I’m most surprised that, you know, in my reporting on this, it hasn’t made its way to the American public. And so, that’s why I did this book. When we hear about this kind of daily violence, you don’t read about it on the pages of The New York Times. And I really asked myself why, and that’s why I set out to do this endeavor, this journalistic endeavor, to paint this intimate portrait of Israeli society for Americans who don’t see what it really is.
On the influence of U.S, Christian Zionist support on Israeli policies:
MAX BLUMENTHAL: We can see the Republicanization of pro-Israel support in the recent Pew poll of Jewish attitudes, where 82 percent of evangelicals believe that Israel is the promised land, that it was given to the Jews by God. Only 16 percent of secular Jews believe this. And so there’s—so the future base of Israel, as long as it’s under the control of people like Netanyahu and those to his right, like Naftali Bennett, is the Bible Belt. That’s Israel’s safety belt, Christian Zionism. And so, this is a dynamic that’s really going to develop in American foreign policy and play out in the next presidential campaign.
On choosing the title of his book:
AMY GOODMAN: Goliath, the title, how did you choose it?
MAX BLUMENTHAL: Well, I chose it because of the biblical tale of David and Goliath, and also because my editors forced me to choose it. And I think it’s a good title, especially because my last book, Republican Gomorrah, has, you know, biblical resonances and begins with the letter G. But there’s an interesting quote in my book. There’s a person I quote in my book who is the first Jewish ambassador of the United Kingdom to Israel, Matthew Gould. And he went on Israeli TV, and he said, “You’re obsessed with these hasbara, or propaganda, efforts to explain your position to the world and to cover everything up. You have to recognize that Israel is now seen as the Goliath, and Palestinians are seen as the David. Cut the hasbara, the propaganda, out, and end the occupation. Maybe then you won’t be seen that way.” And that’s the problem. That’s the problem with Netanyahu. It’s the problem in Israeli society. This occupation will not end as long as this current system is intact. And so, I think Goliath is the perfect title.
Is Yao Ming taller than Goliath?
Yes. The former Houston Rockets centre is 7’6″ (229cm), some 10 inches (25cm) taller than Goliath.Note: In the various manuscripts of 1 Samuel 17, Goliath’s height ranges from 4½ cubits (6’8″ or 202cm) to 6½ cubits (9’7″ or 293cm). However, the earliest manuscripts have Goliath’s height at 4½ cubits, and this was at a time when the height of your average “Israelite” would have been 3½ cubits (5’3″ or 162cm). Therefore, the manuscripts which put Goliath’s height at 6½ cubits probably reflect a later exaggeration. The “cubit” was not an exact measure, but referred to the length of the forearm – from the elbow to the tip of the finger. But we have assumed for the purposes of making this comparison that one cubit = 45cm (just under 18″).
Was André the Giant taller than Goliath?
Yes. The legendary wrestler and star of The Princess Bride was 7’4″ (224cm) – more than half a foot taller than Goliath.Note: In the various manuscripts of 1 Samuel 17, Goliath’s height ranges from 4½ cubits (6’8″ or 202cm) to 6½ cubits (9’7″ or 293cm). However, the earliest manuscripts have Goliath’s height at 4½ cubits, and this was at a time when the height of your average “Israelite” would have been 3½ cubits (5’3″ or 162cm). Therefore, the manuscripts which put Goliath’s height at 6½ cubits probably reflect a later exaggeration. The “cubit” was not an exact measure, but referred to the length of the forearm – from the elbow to the tip of the finger. But we have assumed for the purposes of making this comparison that one cubit = 45cm (just under 18″).
Is Flo Rida taller than Goliath?
No. Although the US rapper and songwriter is an imposing 6’3″ (192cm), he is still half a foot shorter than Goliath.Note: In the various manuscripts of 1 Samuel 17, Goliath’s height ranges from 4½ cubits (6’8″ or 202cm) to 6½ cubits (9’7″ or 293cm). However, the earliest manuscripts have Goliath’s height at 4½ cubits, and this was at a time when the height of your average “Israelite” would have been 3½ cubits (5’3″ or 162cm). Therefore, the manuscripts which put Goliath’s height at 6½ cubits probably reflect a later exaggeration. The “cubit” was not an exact measure, but referred to the length of the forearm – from the elbow to the tip of the finger. But we have assumed for the purposes of making this comparison that one cubit = 45cm (just under 18″).
David and Goliath Story as Rhetorical Device to Legitimize Violence by Powerful or Militant “Victims”
In “David, Goliath, and the Black Panthers: The Paradox of the Oppressed Militant in the Rhetoric of Self-Defense” (Journal of Communication Inquiry 37 no. 1 (2013): 5-25), Amanda Davis Gatchet and Dana L. Cloud argue that the reference to the David and Goliath story, when used as shorthand for the defeat of a powerful opponent by a weaker party,
is a rhetorical resource that serves two functions for both mainstream political and social movement discourse. First, it potentially legitimizes the use of violence in a social conflict by figuring political collectives as aggrieved victims. Second, it crafts a paradoxical collective persona: that of an oppressed militant (in the case of social movements) or a mighty victim (in the case of hegemonic powers), an agent who is at once both powerful and oppressed. (5)
The authors examine the rhetorical use of elements shared with the David and Goliath story by the Black Panther Party for Self-Defence (BPP) and also by the media in their portrayals of the BPP. They draw some conclusions for contemporary politics:
In contrast to rhetorics justifying hegemonic violence (e.g., in the War on Terror), social movement actors lay claim to the identity of the oppressed in terms of their particular counterhegemonic position in a socioeconomic order: that of the oppressed militant. The rhetoric of the U.S. War on Terror, on the other hand, framed the George W. Bush administration’s violence in terms of the mighty victim, despite the marked asymmetry of power relations between the United States and its targets. The difference may explain why (in an ideological not intentional sense) mass media and politicians more often than not framed the Panthers in discrediting ways. Explanations of sociopolitical phenomena in terms of system and structure are not commonsense or natural frames within which to interpret violence in liberal capitalist society, but critics should recognize their reasonable-ness…. Only the actors already in power maintain the prerogative of system blindness. (18-19)
As it is the tenth anniversary of Edward Said’s death, here is a part of his last major speech, which should resonate with the article by Gatchet and Cloud:
The US has, at the very least, asserted its strategic dominance over the center of the world’s largest known energy reserves from the Gulf to the Caspian Sea. And it plans to reshape the area by pacifying threats to its dominance in countries like Syria, Iran, and some of the Gulf emirates.
To threaten war with such belligerence and such a wasteful deployment of military resources is an abuse of human tolerance and human values….
… my point here is to assert the universal applicability of human rights to those unfortunate people — given that since World War II, there has grown up an impressive, even formidable, world-wide consensus that each individual or collectivity, no matter his or her color, ethnicity, religion, or culture, is to be protected from such horrific practices as starvation, torture, forced transfer of population, discrimination on the basis of religion or ethnos, humiliation, extra-judicial political assassinations, land expropriations and all manner of similar cruel and unusual punishment.
I want to affirm also that no power, no matter how special or how developed or how strong or how urgent its claims of past victimization, is exempt from accusation and judgment if that government practices such things.
“The Use of the David and Goliath narrative in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict“, Remnant of Giants, 23 February 2013
“Israelite David versus Palestinian Goliath? Imagined Community and Israeli Missile-Defence Systems“, Remnant of Giants, 14 November 2012
In a recent article, Benjamin D. Utter argues that “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” has incorporated a number of elements from the story of David found in the book of Samuel. In the first place, there are a number of general shared themes and motifs between the story of David and Arthurian romances:
Scholars have not overlooked the similarities between the Book of Samuel and the story of Arthur. Both concern legendary monarchs for whom there is little other historical evidence, and present intriguing problems in terms of generic status, cobining national myth, folklore, priestly propaganda, monstrous challengers, and political history. R.A. Shoaf refers to Arthur as he appears in the Alliterative Morte as “Britain’s David,” and it is generally acknowledged that almost any medieval tale involving giants owes at least something to Goliath and his young challenger. Beowulf, for example, seems to bear the influence of the David story: Andy Orchard tallies “no fewer than twelve … points of overlap” between “Beowulf’s fight with Grendel and David’s encounter with Goliath”. (127)
Utter goes on to note the “striking ways in which the poem’s action corresponds to or at least appears to be inflected by the David story” (129). For example, just as Goliath is an intimidating “six cubits and a span” (I Samuel 17:14), the Green Knight is a “half giant at least” (2099-2102). Or again, just as Goliath taunts the Israelites with their supposed inadequacy, the Green Knight taunts the Arthur’s knights, calling them “bot berdles chylder” (mere beardless children) (208).
To read the remainder of Utter’s comparison of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” with the David story, see Benjamin D. Utter, “Gawain and Goliath: Davidic Parallels and the Problem of Penance in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight“, Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 44 (2013): 121-55.
See also: R.A. Shoaf, “The Alliterative ‘Morte Arthure': The Story of Britain’s David“, The Journal of English and German Philology 81.2 (1982): 204-226; Andy Orchard, A Critical Companion to “Beowulf” (Cambridge, 2005): 142, 143-45.