Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Obadiah Shoher: Samson Blinded

I'm afraid I have never been able to summon up much interest in Middle Eastern politics. Remiss of me, I know, but that's the way it is. And, lest you think that this is going to be a book review, let me hasten to say that I have not read Obadiah Shoher's Samson Blinded; so this post is going to be a discussion of the book's publication history and reception rather than its contents as read and considered by me.

The author, by the way, is pseudonymous. He is said to be a veteran Israeli politician who dealt with security issues for most of his career. The subtitle of his book is A Machiavellian Perspective on the Middle East Conflict, and it is said that the book 'dissects honestly the problems accumulated since the Jews returned to Palestine. Espousing political rationalism, it deplores both Jewish and Muslim myths, and argues for efficiency and separating politics from moralism.'

I heard about this book via an email from someone acting as the book's publicist. He tells me that Google and Yahoo have already banned the web site for this book from their ad programs because of 'unacceptable content'. Well, if you want to consider whether this decision is sensible or not, you can go to what I presume is the web site in question and take a look for yourself. You can also download the whole book.

There are a couple of things that interest me here. The first is that the Samson Blinded is published by Booksurge. Now Booksurge is a division of Amazon, and it offers various services to authors and publishers, the chief of which are publishing and distribution facilities. In that they are not unlike a dozen others, providing a route to market for anyone with a completed ms and a few dollars to spare, but they would be, one hopes, more efficient than some. In any event, they do not seem (so far) to have been bothered about publishing a book which is proving to be controversial and which is getting a somewhat mixed reception.

The book is available through the UK branch of Amazon, but you will learn a great deal more if you go to the relevant page on There you will find a statement from the author, and nearly 20 reviews which range all the way from condemnation to warm support; you will find the occasional mouth-frother among them, but most of the reviews I would classify as considered and thoughtful.

So, it seems that it is perfectly possible to publish a controversial book through Booksurge, set up a web site, and generate a fair amount of discussion of same, without spending more than -- what, a thousand dollars? Let no one say that this is not the age of opportunity. Which is important, given that the big publishers are becoming increasingly wary (or so it seems to me) of publishing anything which might land them in hot water.


Anonymous said...

This book's "publicist" is now spamming random e-mail addresses. No doubt this will increase his the number of visitors to his website, but it's clearly a reprehensible tactic. (I hope he loses his hosting service.)

Anonymous said...

And spamming people using icq instant messaging.

Andi said...

Three months later, btw, the spam offering this masterpiece is still hitting the net. I just got it and am disgusted. This is not the way to publicize a book; I have to agree with the hope that the creeps involve lose their access. I'm so tired of pointless crap in my inbox and this is no different from the several hundred spams about degrees, drugs, potency that i have to clean out every day.
Does this sort of "publicity" work for ANYONE? Would anyone actually download this thing and read it? I've blocked the dude from emailing me again.

Anonymous said...

So you got spammed, hmm? What a shame. And what a shock. You never get spam from anyone or anything else, I'm sure. In fact, I would have to assume that the "reprehensible" receipt of an email, or emails, in your inbox spawned the word, "spam," itself, as it has never been done before.

Come on people. I work for a dot com. And this is what they do. This is what companies around the world are doing, and it is the new business-gathering your personal information, order histories, address, dma, etc and selling the information to retailers and anyone who wants to know. So you got spammed. So what. Delete it.

As for the shocking and terrible tactics of the author-interesting how it has motivated most to complain rather then actually read the book. God forbid one actually investigates and becomes knowledgeable upon a subject before sharing an opinion thereof.

BTW, nice blog. : )

Anonymous said...

Wow, someone actually defending SPAM!

Anonymous said...

To the Dot.commer who is so defensive:
"Just delete Spam" cause it is what they do,eh? Please post your home e-mail address so we can all forward our spam to you and you can put your time where your mouth is! After all it is what you "do".

Anonymous said...

seconded. Wasn't there a "spammer" who got his/her home address/phone number published in retaliation? I'd like to see more of that. :)

Anonymous said...

sometimes spam is sent by people wishing to discredit it's apparent beneficiary.

Anonymous said...

Some (email) spam is to be expected, and we all deal with it. However, I am both irritated and amazed that the "spammers" have gone so far as to join groups and make a single post to their sites.
Good ol' Samson Blinded is linked on two different boards of which I'm aware, which does little to make me think this is A) worth reading and B) any more credible than the "get your viagara online" folks who have done the same thing.

Just sayin'

wdporter said...

Want to hear something real funny. I ordered this book (all over the BlogAdSwap thing) and when I got it from Amazon the cover was exactly as I saw it (with the chess set on the front) but inside the cover was a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT BOOK!:

"Kundalini Awakening for Personal Mastery"--some Reiki/meditation type thing. The real funny part is that I got all the way through the first chapter before I realized..."hey, this isn't about Israel!..." I'm a dummy. Now I have to wait a couple of weeks to get the real thing. Hope it's worth it.

wdporter said...

And by the way, I think spam is an EXCELLENT way to sell a book. It's actually a breath of fresh air to get a spam for something I might actually want...a book.

Anonymous said...

The only way to stop spam is never buy anything from a spammer.

Let me repeat: never buy anything from a spammer.

Buying stuff from a spammer both rewards and encourages bad behavior. As long as spammers make money they will continue to spam people. Please help stop spammers by never giving them any of your money.

Buy a similar product elsewhere if you really want it, but do not feed the spammers.

Thank you. :-)

Hugh W said...

yes he has finnlly found me

my answer:-

On 16 Dec 2006, at 18:22, list AT wrote:

Eugene Gershin
neither you nor " Obadiah Shoher" are honest
because there is no real name and biography on line for either of you

I have no respect for "an anonymous politician" anywhere

my position is "ban the Bomb"
and stop all wars

Hugh W

a wonderful artist in Denmark

Beta blogger photographs and walks


but I bet it bounces

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm almost a year late joining in this conversation...

I just recently got the email solicitation in question, and decided to do a little research before acting in haste (believe it or not, this blog post was the first on Google's list for the pseudonym of topic (I'm not going to do him the favor of giving him more visibility by typing his name)).

I applaud the originality (I've never gotten spam about a political book before), and I can respect a pseudonym (especially amidst politics). However, I don't like the idea of going around begging for plugs just to get noticed better on search engines (the email simply asked me to mention him and his book, before suggesting I read the book). I would think better of him if he had just expected the content of his book to sell itself, instead of counting on good search engine results for his name and/or book.

I say, "No, thank you. I'll pass."

Jasline said...

i received this email too. i guessed the publicist send almost the same email to everyone. i tried searching for this Israeli politician's name on Google and it came back with quite a number of results and this post in number 1 on the list.

i won't really say this is a spam email. i guess it's more like a form of publicizing. spam is more like used to refer to things that are absolutely redundant. this email doesn't lead us to an empty link, it just brings us to another site to view the views of this politician.

whether to read his views or not is up to our own choice. let's not be too critical about it. have an open mind. (:

coma boy said...

I also received the spam from the book's publicist. But, they'd written to me, mentioning my blog by name, and had somehow found my real e-mail address to do so.

My blog shows my anon e-mail address. Something strange is going on. I tried to reply to Euguene's mail to ask how, but, of course, it bounced straight back.

Anyone know how they knew my real e-mail? I don't feel so anonymous anymore.

Dubber said...

No - it's spam. I run a forum, and I have spam protection built into the registration process. The book's publicist has dispatched bots to join every forum it can get into and then automatically post.

The whole thing is very polite. It reads:

"Howdy the Forum Master! I\'m Moshe the Bot, specifically the political bot. I go around the forums and tell people about [name of author]'s work. You probably heard of [name]: Google banned his site from the AdWords, Yahoo too blocked many pages, and Amazon deleted all reviews of [name]'s book, [Title: subtitle]. [Name] writes very hot and controversial articles about the Middle East affairs, terrorism, and war. The thing is, I\'m a polite bot. I post only once every few weeks in relevant categories. If you don\'t like me at all, you can kill me at any time, and I would no longer post to your forum. But give me a try: perhaps the folks here would enjoy me. Thank you.".

But you know what? It's still spam.

I don't care how polite it is -- sending out bots to drop unsolicited advertising into forums on unrelated topics is not okay (mine happens to be about how independent music businesses can use the internet -- not geopolitics).

I don't care how important this book is (though I suspect it's of dubious quality and reliability) -- what we're talking about here is acceptable marketing practices. These ain't them.

My forum is for human beings to speak to each other -- not for unsolicited advertorials for products I neither endorse nor feel are relevant in any way to the context.

I've had the emails too. The product itself is irrelevant to this discussion. This sort of practice needs to be slapped down hard.

Anonymous said...

I've hard the same spam... probably because of some posts I put on my own blog about the Middle East (I'm not going to spam you by linking to them...).

Yes, it's spam, but as spam goes it is relatively benign; at least the contents match, the title and the link goes where it says it will. And (in my case at least) the author has a glimmer of an indication that I might have some interest in the subject matter.

I think the deceptiveness here is at another level. I haven't read the book either, but I did skim the most recent articles on the blog, and all I can say is - if these are the considered views of 'a veteran Israeli politician', it reflects poorly on the state of Israeli politics.

These do not look like the mature analysis of someone who has played the Israeli political game for years; they look like the somewhat shallow opinions of a hard-line Zionist, with a thin veneer of university-level student geo-politics.

For instance, in the most recent post, "Obadiah" refers to the Camp David agreement as if it were a legally-binding contract, rather than a super-annuated attempt long since discarded by all parties. And if the US 'reneges on the contract', simple: "Israel can re-occupy the isthmus of Sinai and annex the oil wells there". Job done. Why on earth does everyone else find the Arab-Israeli problem so intractable?

Come on... this isn't a grown-up writing, let alone a politician. The pseudonym is not to hide a politician expressing his frank views, it's to bump up the hit count a low-grade blogger.

Anonymous said...

Wow...I guess I'm a little late responding also, as I just got the email today.

Most of the discussion on this blog has been about the spam tactics of the books publishers, which I agree, is pretty low. Especially when one considers what the book is actually about.

Allow me to first state that I have not read the book. And I must follow that with this: I won't read it. Why? Well, for starters, when I view it on Amazon, Amazon recommends some rather questionable books by Robert Spencer. Examples of some titles are "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam," and "The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion."

A google search yieled a review of "Samson Blinded: by the Israel Hasbara Committee. I've not investigated this site very thoroughly, but a cursory glance found some untruthful statements and biases against Arabs. And yet even this pro-Israel organization has called "1/3rd" of the book "plain evil" in that it wants to expel all Arabs from Israel. Following are some things Mr. Shoher advocates as set forth in his book:

"Israel can destroy popular support for Islamic terror among Arabs by assailing the Muslim civilian population, razing Arab settlements, and exiling the inhabitants."

"Any enemy casualties are acceptable; using Weapons of Mass Destruction is preferable to risking Israeli soldiers in close combat".

"There is no reason why Israel should not attack Arab civilians. It is better to kill one or five civilians for every terrorist than to leave them free to kill countless civilians".

Yep...don't think there's any reason to read this book.

Pensamientos dispersos said...

I got that e-mail today (December 2006) :-(

According to this page
Obadiah Shoher directs an extremist Jewish group that promotes anexation of all Palestinian territories.

I for one would prefer Israel obbeid the UN resolutions.

Anonymous said...

Spam mail received today, 12/21/06.

Surprise, surprise. But I'm not stupid enough to believe emails I read from strangers.

I Googled the book and immediately found the guy's name, found the stuff on Amazon...found this blog.

Spam people...and sleazy business tactics go hand-in-hand. If you believed this, they you've probably fallen for the "Send money to free my Afrikkan or Turkish or Whatever king" bullcrap, too.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a laugh that everyone gets so up in arms about someone sending out a "spam" email which is clearly marked as to its contents.

You should just delete the messages you don't want, and stop with your crying. Fuck, what are you, 11 years old? Why? Why? Why?

Go protest or something, oh, that's right, your probably far too lazy to go out and do something like that. Rather just sit in front of the computer and spend time whining about some stupid email message you didn't like.

Anonymous said...

After thinking about it, I suspect strongly that this book's author was banned from Google and Yahoo not for controversial politics, but rather for abuse of their advertising services. Such abuse would fit into his apparent abandonment of morality in the marketing of his book. (He got my email address off a forum devoted to surreal futuristic roleplaying, by the way. Not exactly related to his book's subject, heh.)

Because of this book I started reading the Prince (something I'd been meaning to do) and researching Machiavelli. I actually suspect that he would deplore the recommendations of this "Israeli politician". Machiavelli draws a clear distinction between necessary ruthlessness and comprehensible vileness, though he does make the recommendation of brief yet extreme cruelty as being preferable to long drawn out agony (since in the long run the former causes less suffering).

Anonymous said...

Oh, um. I actually meant "contemptible", not "comprehensible". My bad. Should've re-read before posting.

Anonymous said...

hey, i got a PM in a music forum where i am registered under three aliases. this eugene registered in the forum and sent PM's to everyone in it.
i googled his name, then went to amazon and checked out the author's name, which brought me here.
just for statistics i felt i needed to add my comment.

doyle said...

Spammed my post marking Memorial Day here in the US.

Anonymous said...

Don't know if a bot dropped it, but I got a comment posted to a LiveJournal entry I made weeks ago where I mentioned an article I had read about Israel. I suspect someone is Google'ing various key words and looking to provoke or advertise or both.

Before posting a reply, I searched on the pseudonym and considered erasing the comment rather than give the book free advertising. However, for the moment, I'm letting it stand. Just the titles of the chapters turn my stomach.