Peter Beinart’s illiberal mission: To subvert Jewish & non-Jewish support for Israel

The following post was written by Yisrael Medad, and originally published at the Jerusalem Post and Love of the Land.

Peter Beinart

Peter Beinart once again pursues his goal of subverting Jewish and non-Jewish support for Zionism and the state of Israel. 

His new crusading essay has appeared, “The American Jewish Cocoon“. He is concerned with

“them.”

“They” are the…

Palestinians that so often consume the American Jewish conversation about Israel.

He notes that…

For the most part, Palestinians do not speak in American synagogues or write in the Jewish press. The organization Birthright, which since 1999 has taken almost 350,000 young Diaspora Jews—mostly Americans—to visit Israel, does not venture to Palestinian towns and cities in the West Bank (nor do they come to the Jewish communities, btw – YM)… the organized American Jewish community a closed intellectual space, isolated from the experiences and perspectives of roughly half the people under Israeli control. And the result is that American Jewish leaders, even those who harbor no animosity toward Palestinians, know little about the reality of their lives.

He, but of course, want American Jews to provide a platform for the Arabs of the former League of Nations territory awarded as a Mandate for the purpose of the reconstitution of the Jewish national home. For him, he is bothered that in not doing so, it is…

almost impossible for Jewish campus organizations to invite a Palestinian speaker.

He bemoans the standards that are set, which, to his thinking, are too high.

First, “delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard” is so vague that it could bar virtually any Palestinian (or, for that matter, non-Palestinian) critic of Israeli policy. 

As a result, American Jews, for the most part…

don’t know the degree to which Palestinians are denied those rights in the West Bank. They are unfamiliar with the realities of ordinary Palestinian life because they live inside the cocoon the organized American Jewish community has built for itself.

Not only, then, is the consequence of “this isolation” a “lack of information”, but…

the other is a lack of empathy

…as well as the minimization of 

the human toll of living, for forty-six years, without the basic rights that…Jewish neighbors take for granted….This lack of familiarity with Palestinian life also inclines many in the organized American Jewish world to assume that Palestinian anger toward Israel must be a product solely of Palestinian pathology…By walling themselves off from Palestinians, American Jews fail to understand the very behavior they seek to prevent.

He doesn’t like the trips Congressmen take, conveniently noting that AIPAC does not allow those it hosts to visit Jewish communities as well, although their regional directors have done their duty and seen, to an extent, the Jewish reality in Yesha, but not enough.

Beinart does take into consideration that…

in some ways a truly open conversation with Palestinians may be more discomforting to American Jews like myself who are committed to the two-state solution than to those skeptical of it.

Why?

Well, as Beinart admits…

Virtually every Palestinian I’ve ever met considers Zionism to be colonialist, imperialist, and racist.

Nevertheless, for Beinart, this open line to Arabs of the Palestinian Authority area is important for two reasons. The first is that ignorance is “dangerous” and that it can encourage “American Jewish hatred” and he refers to Sheldon Adelson’s remark of “why would I want to invest money with people who want to kill my people?” 

Beinart finishes his text so…

By seeing Palestinians—truly seeing them—we glimpse a faded, yellowing photograph of ourselves. We are reminded of the days when we were a stateless people, living at the mercy of others. And by recognizing the way statelessness threatens Palestinian dignity, we ensure that statehood doesn’t rob us of our own.

I can assure Beinart that the more American Jews get to know the truth – not the liberal-tinted glasses view, nor the propaganda view – they will be even more pro-Yesha, pro-Jewish retention of Judea and Samaria and more anti-Palestinianism.

They will learn of the “Temple Denial” phenomenon. They will become acquainted with the anti-Semitism at the root of Islamist ideology which drives (and, with the Grand Mufti El-Husseini’s pro-Nazism beginning in 1933, drove) their bloodthirsty opposition to Zionism. They will know that the dispute is not territorial nor where a boundary line will be drawn but it is existential. They will come to acknowledge the deeply rooted fanaticism and extremism that guides their anti-Zionism thinking and actions. They will recognize the lies and half-truths that form the basis of Palestinianism, the inventivity model of nationalism.

I publish their words. Many other bloggers and web sites do as well. With Google Translate, even the Arab-language sites are open to us all. There is no shortage of getting to know “the enemy”. In fact, we are commanded to, in a sense, to “know thy enemy” which, in Jewish thought was expressed in the Ethics of the Fathers, 2:14, by Rabbi Elazar who would say: ‘Be diligent in the study of Torah. Know what to answer a heretic’.

But Beinart seeks to turn things around. To weaken Jewish resolve which will lead to endangering Israel’s existence while permitting terrorists to gain sympathy. We cannot allow the history of the 9-decades conflict to dissolve into tears of empathy. 

If I do possess sympathy, I extend it to Beinart whose orientation is a twisted approach, one that subverts truth and lends itself to the further promotion of anti-Zionism, Israel’s delegitimization and its isolation.

He is not liberal in any sense but dogmatic and lacks true love of his people.

Oh, and that cocoon? No beautiful butterfly will appear from his suggestion.

Peter Beinart’s Open Zion feels the pain of pre-Oslo murderers and their loved ones

An Aug. 20 essay by  at Peter Beinart’s blog Open Zion, titled ‘Palestinian Prisoners Are Released and No One Cares‘, mostly stands out in the way in which Arab murderers are characterized sympathetically while the victims of their brutal crimes are all but ignored.

graphic

Indeed, we’ve been posting frequently on the sympathetic portrayal, by some in the media, of the the 104 pre-Oslo prisoners who Israel has agreed to release – all of whom were convicted of murder, attempted murder, or being an accessory to murder, and the dearth of information about the victims and their families.  And, in fact, Zayid spends most of the space allotted to her commenting on the pain felt by the recently released murderers – in “the middle of the night”!, we are reminded – and the ‘feelings’ of their families.

In addition to the moral inversion typical in the far-left’s coverage of the prisoner release story, here are a few of the smears and falsehoods in Zayid’s Open Zion essay. 

Israelis simply don’t care about the release of prisoners who murdered their fellow citizens:

Zayid writes:

“The Israeli families who claimed to be directly affected by the freed prisoners’ actions seemed to be the only folks who really cared about the move to send these notorious men home.” 

It’s unclear how Zayid gauged the pulse of the Israeli public in a manner sufficient to make such a claim about their attitudes towards the prisoners’ release, but polls certainly indicate she’s flat-out wrong.  In fact, 77.5 percent of Israelis polled recently opposed the release – results which are quite intuitive to most Israelis, an extremely large number of whom have been personally affected by Palestinian terrorism.   

Palestinian “Political Prisoners” in Israel:

Zayid writes:

It is also important to remember whom Israel chose to free. These are not women, children, or prisoners of conscience. They are not your average Palestinians serving time for rock throwing or because an acquaintance who could no longer handle the torture volunteered their name as a scapegoat. These are not the Palestinians being held without charges or as political prisoners for nonviolent resistance.

It’s a small comfort that Zayid doesn’t at least parrot the Palestinian narrative of the pre-Oslo prisoners as “political prisoners“, but she still legitimizes the absurd notion that there are such prisoners in Israeli jails – those whose incarceration are, per the accepted definition of the term, based purely on their political or religious beliefs.

Imputing the most sinister motives to Israelis, even in response to the most painful concessions for peace:

Zayid writes:

Israel chose these prisoners specifically knowing that after over two decades of rotting in jail, these men no longer pose a threat, and that the move to free them could be used to Israel’s advantage. As the families cheer the homecoming of their loved ones, Israel can use those images to reinforce the myth that Palestinians are terrorist-loving savages. 

Of course it was Mahmoud Abbas who demanded the release of the ‘pre-Oslo’ prisoners, and so to imply that releasing them was a strategic, calculated, cynical Israeli decision continues in the illiberal tradition of those who deny Palestinian moral agency, and see in all political events a sinister Israeli motive. Further, to impute Israeli racism in the ‘belief’ that Palestinians routinely engage in incitement and glorify terrorists is to deny evidence documented daily on sites which monitor such incitement.  

It is an indisputable fact that Palestinians routinely celebrate even those citizens who’ve committed the most barbaric crimes, such as the honors bestowed upon Dalal Mughrabi, the woman who led the most lethal terror attack in Israel’s history, when she and other terrorists hijacked a bus in 1978 and killed 37 civilians, 12 of them children.

Moral equivalence between terrorists and the IDF

Zayid writes:

“Others who come to cheer see little difference between Palestinian armed resistance and an Israeli sniper shooting an unarmed 13-year-old through the heart. Both are murderers and both will find a couple hundred people to give them a hero’s welcome, regardless.”

Such a moral equivalency between Palestinian terrorists who intentionally kill Israelis and IDF soldiers who, during the course of engaging Palestinian terrorists, accidentally kill Palestinians is a common theme in anti-Zionist propaganda, and since Zayid doesn’t provide a link it’s impossible to know for sure what incident she’s even referring to.  

However, while Palestinians who murder Israelis (such as the 26 recently released prisoners) have received heroes’ welcomes when they return home, it strains credulity to even imagine a situation where an IDF soldier whose actions may have resulted in the death of a Palestinian child is celebrated because of Palestinian deaths.

One of the 26 Palestinian prisoners released by Israel is greeted by relatives and friends at the headquarters of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Atef Safadi, European Pressphoto Agency / August 14, 2013

One of the 26 Palestinian prisoners released by Israel is greeted by relatives and friends at the headquarters of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. (Atef Safadi, European Pressphoto Agency / August 14, 2013

Religiously segregated housing:

Zayid writes:

“Freeing 26 prisoners out of 5000 means nothing compared to the Israeli Housing Minister announcing the construction of 1200 new religiously segregated housing units

Here, Zaid is likely talking about the recent announcement of 1187 new homes mostly in eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods where, as CAMERA has documented on several occasions in response to false claims, no such segregation exists.  (Indeed, in Dec. 2012, this blog was able to even get the Guardian to acknowledge that it is inaccurate to assert that such racially exclusive housing exists.)

However, in addition to the factual errors and smears, what most stands out in Zaid’s piece is how Arab murderers are humanized, while Israeli victims and their families remain nameless and largely faceless. 

It’s hard to know when Peter Beinart’s Open Zion, supposedly inspired by his love of Israel, devolved into a project which promotes the views of those who are contemptuous of Israelis, and even those who have defended anti-Semites, but, whatever his motivations, this latest piece of agitprop places his blog in an ideological direction closer to Electronic Intifada or Mondoweiss than any site which would proudly identify as Zionist.

UPDATE: There was one additional error in Zayid’s essay which I originally decided not to focus on, but which, based on a Twitter exchange about the issue, is worth at least mentioning. She cited the number of Palestinians as seven million, a number we’ve never seen before and which is greater, by more than two million, than the official Palestinian figures.  Here’s her reply:

Remarkably, she included Arab Israelis in her total count of Palestinians!

What Jonathan Freedland doesn’t get

Cross posted by SnoopyTheGoon at Simply Jews

I’ve stumbled on a (new to me) appearance of Jonathan Freedland under the auspices of Open Zion section of the Daily beast, edited by Peter Beinart. It was surprising, since I thought that being a columnist for the Guardian and the Jewish Chronicle makes him busy enough, without resorting to another venue. But the article, titled What U.S. Jews Don’t Get About European Anti-Semitism was interesting enough by itself.

The general purpose of the article (and the venue used), if I get it right, is to prove to American Jews that the fears displayed by some of them about the allegedly precarious situation of the European Jewry are just undue histrionics. 

The article is full of arguments in favor of this attitude: from the mistaken outcry by prof Rubin (6 years ago, what a memory!) through the finely nuanced analysis of different anti-Jewish sentiments in different European countries and the right wing extremists supporting Israel (proving what, exactly? – but let’s leave it alone) to the rosy perspective for the British Jews…

There even is an illustration of the idyllic life led by the British Jews in that article:

BritishJewsWith a capture: “Jewish men walk along the street in the Stamford Hill area of north London, Jan, 19, 2011.” Wow, man, you don’t say…  unfettered Jews working around Stamford. How cool. 

All this sounds like a serious and overwhelming tranquilizer attack, but more about it later. What really made me mad is the following: 

“Beneath these two headline cases are a hundred other lesser points of friction, often on campus, situations where Jews and Muslims have clashed, frequently over the politics of the Middle East. A consistent trend, noticed by those who monitor anti-Semitism, is a surge in anti-Jewish hatred whenever the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians escalates.”

One does his best, trying to ignore that “situations where Jews and Muslims have clashed”, as if European Jews are equally guilty in the “clashes”. Of course, one should be careful not to favor any side, especially when that “Islamophobia” label is circling the air, looking for another warm body to stick to – but imagine the folks like the ones in the picture above attacking innocent London Muslims…

But Freedland’s matter of fact acceptance of the inevitable “clashes” (read “European Muslims attacking European Jews”), whenever the Zionists perform their usual dastardly deed – this is what really gets my goat. Ten years ago that point of view was aired by one of the biggest stains on British journalism, one Seumas Milne, in his slimy Guardian piece ‘This slur of anti-Semitism is used to defend repression. Its lead sets the tone:

“Ending Israel’s occupation will benefit Jews and Muslims in Europe”

While it’s unclear how European Muslims will benefit, the benefit for the Jews, according to Milne, is obvious: stop the occupation and the attacks by Muslims stop.

Which, in effect, makes the European Jews into hostages for the Muslim rage, whenever and for whatever reason they become unhappy with Israel (or anything else, for that matter – after all blaming the Jooz is customary). And it’s quite painful to see how a “progressive” Jewish journalist repeats this deranged viewpoint as accepted and acceptable by using it as a side remark, without any comment.

Speaking of comments, it would be interesting to understand Freedland’s personal view of the other passage in that text:

“Others have long been alarmed by the case of Malmö, Sweden, a city whose 45,000 Muslims make up 15 percent of the population and where Jews have been on the receiving end of persistent anti-Semitic attacks—a fact denied by the town’s Social Democratic mayor, who instead criticized Malmo’s Jews for their failure to condemn Israel. As he put it, “We accept neither anti-Semitism nor Zionism in Malmö.””

Why didn’t Jonathan comment on this is unclear, and I would love to be certain he thinks what I do about that dreck of a mayor. But how could one be sure?

Very sad. And now about the general thrust of the article, the tranquilizer attack. It is hard to argue the fact that some responses, coming from US Jews to the shenanigans of the various antisemitic elements in Europe, could be over the top. But the sad tradition of European Jewry to stick its collective head into the sand and to ignore the signs of danger couldn’t be overlooked. And no matter how much Valium does Jonathan shove down our craw, a brief detour to a moment of European history could put it into perspective:

  • From hereBy the end of 1920, the Nazi Party had about 3,000 members.
  • From here: In the 1928 German elections, less than 3% of the people voted for the Nazi Party.

The humble results brought up above are easily dwarfed by current popularity of Front National in France, Jobbik in Hungary etc. One would say that there are very good reasons for the Jews (and other minorities) in Europe to feel somewhat shaky, especially as the economic crisis takes it toll. But no, Jonathan has an easy answer for that one too: 

“Episodes that Americans see as evidence of growing European hostility to Jews are often understood by European Jews to be criticism of Israel—in fact, not even criticism of Israel itself, but rather of a specific strain of Israeli policy: what we might call the Greater Israel project of continuing and expanding settlement of the West Bank.”

Clumsy. Very clumsy, Jonathan.

But probably heartily approved by Peter Beinart. So be it.