Sunday, March 25, 2012

Beinart and ... Jabotinsky: A Betrayal

Rick Richman deals formidably and devastatingly with Peter Beinart's misuse of Ze'ev Jabotinsky in his new book.


...It is unlikely he read Jabotinsky’s 12-page essay before using it as the crux of his analysis, because Mr. Beinart not only egregiously misstated the theme of the essay; he even misinterpreted the two-sentence quote...Mr. Beinart mistakenly assumed Jabotinsky was endorsing an amoral “contemporary code of morality.” Had he read the entire essay, he would have realized Jabotinsky was observing that even in the best countries, even in the most civilized circumstances, contemporary morality disregarded Biblical injunctions and was not sufficient to protect an oppressed people.

Jabotinsky’s conclusion was that power was necessary for Jews to survive, and that assimilation in Europe would not ultimately protect them. Three decades later, he was proven tragically correct, in the most cultured and sophisticated countries in Europe.

Contrary to Mr. Beinart’s caricature, Jabotinsky “towered high above all the other Zionist leaders between both world wars in his culture, sensibilities, and intellectual horizons,” wrote Shlomo Avineri in “The Making of Modern Zionism” (1981)...[in] this poorly researched, poorly written book, Mr. Beinart ends up proposing a boycott of other Jews, and deems Mr. Obama more Jewish than Mr. Netanyahu.

and I left this comment there:

While not excusing Beinart in any way, I am going to presume that one of his many (I think there were close to 20?) researchers, trying to impress his/her boss, and due to sloppy reading (liberal intellectual elites do not do anything wrong, do they? well, not on purpose), given the assignment to find dirt on Jabotinsky, Beinart's bette noire of classic Zionist thought, provided the master with what he wanted.

Just for the record, the translation of that 1910 article was specifically done by request so as to be sent to President Obama as an example of (a) the true humanist, liberal thought framework of Jabotinsky - unlike those who sought to misinterpret his thinking (for example, note his introduction to his Iron Wall essay: ...I find it necessary to begin with an introduction , and, moreover , with a personal introduction. I am reputed to be an enemy of the Arabs, who wants to have them ejected from Palestine, and so forth. It is not true. Emotionally, my attitude to the Arabs is the same as to all other nations – polite indifference. Politically, my attitude is determined by two principles. First of all, I consider it utterly impossible to eject the Arabs from Palestine. There will always be two nations in Palestine – which is good enough for me, provided the Jews become the majority. And secondly, I belong to the group that once drew up the Helsingfors Programme , the programme of national rights for all nationalities living in the same State. In drawing up that programme, we had in mind not only the Jews, but all nations everywhere, and its basis is equality of rights. I am prepared to take an oath binding ourselves and our descendants that we shall never do anything contrary to the principle of equal rights, and that we shall never try to eject anyone. This seems to me a fairly peaceful credo. But it is quite another question whether it is always possible to realise a peaceful aim by peaceful means. For the answer to this question does not depend on our attitude to the Arabs, but entirely on the attitude of the Arabs to us and to Zionism." - expressions Beinart couldn't even find today); and (b) to impress upon Mr. Obama that despite what he thinks, Jews and Israel cannot let go of its defensive measures nor be lax - of fearful - of employing them.

Just like Jabotinsky had to deal with the Brit Shalom/HaIhud phenomenon of pacifism and yielding on the idea of the Jewish state and immigration to it in the late 1920s and 1930s, as well as the Yishuv almost being cut off from a supply of weapons when Magnes met Marshall and Truman in May 1948 (see here), so today, all of Israel, on both sides of the Green Line, must contend with the warped vision of Beinart and Friends which preeminently chooes an ideology of liberalism and humanism that not only is misconceived but can only reward those who are inhuman and illiberal foremost to Jews and Israel, supposedly those Beinart seeks to assist.

Can he be that unintelligent to grasp that reality?

Beinart betrays.

He betrays intellectual honesty. He betrays liberalism. He betrays Zionism and so, too, his presumed Judaism.


1 comment:

NormanF said...

In the 1920s, the Czech state embodied the aims of the Helsingfors program by granting full rights to minorities. In the end, the Sudeten Germans betrayed their country, oppressed the Czechs and tried to dispossess them of the land. The only solution in response to it was to transfer them to Germany after the Second World War. That may not have been the liberal or democratic solution but it was the only left open to the Czechs so that the Sudeten question would never again be revisited to their detriment. It helped to keep the peace. If Israel's Arabs were moved to Jordan, you could certainly have two peoples living side by side without conflict. I think Jabotinsky was mistaken in thinking that is possible in the same land. Self-determination must never come at Jewish expense.