Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Beinart's Empathy Plea

Peter Beinart, scion of a Zionist Revisionist family whose members were members of the Betar Zionist youth movement whose ideological mentor was Ze'ev Jabotinsky, 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


"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.  


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 Authroity 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-tooted fanaticism and extremism that guides their anti-Zionism thinking and actions.

I publish their words.  Many other bloggers and web sites do as well.  There is shortage of getting to kn ow "the enemy".  In fact, we are commanded to, in a sense, "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 permiting 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.


EOZ weighs in.



Anonymous said...

Beinart, Jstreet, JVP, Richard Silverstein, KAPOS the lot of tem.

Anonymous said...

You zeroed in on some key chinks in his armor.

And among other things, what he says about campus organizations is nonsense: many Jewish communal and academic/student organizations are only too happy to invite Palestinian speakers, even those with extreme views.

It is the same pattern: sure, some Jews and Israelis are narrowminded, etc., but by and large, they want dialogue, even with the opponent/enemy. And the opponents then either refuse it or demand that it take place on their terms, on the grounds that they don't want to legitimize the "Zionist discourse" etc. etc. (I have seen this happen time and again in campus life.)

The same as with the "peace process" in general: most Jews/Israelis are willing to admit they may have made mistakes, or at least to seek reconciliation. Palestinians (even the most moderate) and their advocates see themselves as total victims with an endless and absolute moral claim. For them, the "concession" does not involve introspection and self-criticism (e.g. asking what they--even if "victims"--may have done, politically, and strategically, to prolong their suffering and squander opportunities to solve the conflict; never mind moral self-examination: terrorism is bad not because it is murder, but because it "hurts the Palestinian national cause"), and rather, just the grudging promise that they might, in principle, someday, somehow be willing to concede accepting anything less than 100% of "historic Palestine."

Beinart's mentality is a nightmare hybrid: the worst of the cringing "Ghetto Jew" and the naive but arrogant "progressive intellectual."

YMedad said...

Anon 9:16

I do not appreciate Jews referring to other Jews employing any sort of Nazi-affiliated terminology.

You gave been warned. There are additional words that can be used without recourse to such.

Next time - an automatic deletion of editorial redaction.

Anonymous said...

Peter Beinart seems to be confused about what it means to be in a “closed intellectual space.”

The fact that Beinart’s Open Zion is monochromatic in its approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict does not place its readers in a “closed intellectual space” unless they choose to ghettoize themselves by listening exclusively to Beinart and his coterie’s cliché-ridden diatribes against the Jewish state.

The fact that Jewish organizations on campus sometimes (and Hillel has been doing a very poor job of this lately) present a variety of Jewish voices but not anti-Jewish voices does not make them a closed intellectual space either. In fact, given the fact the prejudices of campus life today, it is likely that the contribution of proud Jewish voices and pro-Israel perspectives to the lives of Jewish students is the only thing preventing the students with any balance in their university experience, which is filled with platforms for anti-Israel activists to shout their hateful propaganda, no matter how bereft of intellectual content.

The truly closed intellectual spaces are those where listeners are deprived of the opportunity to be exposed to contrary views. Universities’ departments of Middle East studies are truly closed intellectual spaces, where all views are expected to conform to the orthodox apologetics for Islamism and Arab anti-semitism. Arab media too is a closed intellectual space, where no Jew will ever appear except to participate in ritual “two minutes hate.”

There is no place in the world today where one can be closed off from anti-Israel views, even of the spectacularly uniformed variety paraded by Beinart. Certainly, no American or Israeli Jew can close themselves off from such views. But there are many places in the world where one can be closed off from any views that give a fair hearing to the Jewish state and Jews. Almost all Arabs, including most Palestinians, live in such a world.