Challenging Peter Beinart’s dishonesty about the inequality in Zionism

Peter Beinart says Palestinians in Israel, like these participants in the March of Return at Hadatha village on 23 April, should not be allowed “full, equal citizenship.”

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In his latest column for Haaretz, “liberal” Zionist pundit Peter Beinart takes aim at Barack Obama over a speech the US president gave last week at a Washington, DC synagogue.

“Obama has grown very good at telling establishment-minded American Jews what they want to hear,” Beinart observes. “Unfortunately, some of what they want to hear simply isn’t true.”

He doesn’t mention Obama’s offensive Nabka-denialist fabrications about Zionist ethnic cleansers and colonialists as “pioneers who set out not only to safeguard a nation, but to remake the world” and to “make the desert bloom.”

Nor does he mention Obama’s almost certainly imaginary personal history in which “I came to know Israel as a young man through these incredible images of kibbutzim, and Moshe Dayan, and Golda Meir, and Israel overcoming incredible odds in the ‘67 war.”

Beinart is exercised about Obama’s conflation – in the manner of the Israel lobby he has so faithfully served as president – of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

Beinart’s punchline is that anti-Zionism – not anti-Semitism – will continue to rise, especially on US campuses, unless efforts are made “to end the systematic oppression that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu has entrenched, and bring Israel closer to the principles of ‘freedom, justice and peace’ enshrined in its declaration of independence.”

This has long been Beinart’s refrain – deflecting blame onto to the Israeli bogeyman right and obfuscating the racism inherent in his own liberal-flavored variety of Zionism.

His latest column is no exception. In pressing his case, Beinart writes: “Inside the United States, anti-Zionism, while still marginal, is growing, primarily via the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which challenges not only Israeli control of the West Bank, but the very idea of Jewish statehood, which BDS activists claim denies Palestinians equality even inside Israel proper.”

Who says that?

Wait a minute, Peter. Is it only BDS activists who “claim” that Zionism denies Palestinians equality even inside present-day Israel?

What Beinart does not say in his column is that he himself has openly acknowledged that Zionism does, must and should deny equality to Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Beinart made this clear in a 2010 interview in The Atlantic with fellow liberal Zionist pundit and former Israeli prison guard Jeffrey Goldberg.

Here are Beinart’s own words:

I’m not asking Israel to be Utopian. I’m not asking it to allow Palestinians who were forced out (or fled) in 1948 to return to their homes. I’m not even asking it to allow full, equal citizenship to Arab Israelis, since that would require Israel no longer being a Jewish state. I’m actually pretty willing to compromise my liberalism for Israel’s security and for its status as a Jewish state.

Could it be any clearer that in Beinart’s view there can be no Jewish state without deliberately inflicting inequality and inferiority on Palestinians?

I’ve asked Beinart repeatedly whether he stands by this position. Usually he ignores the question, but on at least one occasion he called me a “creep.”

Time for an answer

There will be an opportunity, however, for Beinart to be confronted directly and publicly on the anti-Palestinian bigotry he expressed in the Goldberg interview, on 4 June at the pro-Israel think-tank the New America Foundation, in New York City.

Beinart will debate Yousef Munayyer, former columnist for Beinart’s defunct Open Zion and now executive director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

Among the questions Munayyer should put to Beinart is this clear one: do you retract, repudiate and reject your odious view expressed in the Goldberg interview – that you yourself as a “liberal” would purport to recoil at in any other situation – that Palestinians should be denied full, equal citizenship so that Israel can remain a “Jewish state?”

Over to you, Yousef.

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Comments

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It is a disengenous display of what Israeli's might market as "democracy"
in protesting Obama's statements of contrived differences with Israel.
(These efforts at manipulation of the public debate are more frequent in
Washington these days and all deny the horrors of Israeli oppression past
present and ---according to Israeli statements---future.)

These fake "differences" of opinion resulting in nothing distract attention
from:

1. The 1.9 BILLION dollars in defense weapons just allocated to Israel by the
Obama Administration.

2. Silencing of a debate of the purpose of these weapons (or did
B. Netanyahu just not notice them??).

3. These weapons cannot be intended for so-called "Israeli security"
as no one is attacking Israel at present. Instead Israel is threatening
everyone else. (See Rania Khalek in EI).

4. Or is Israel intending to sell these US weapons on the international
weapons market for profit.

5. The US has blocked any UN effort toward a Mideast Nuclear Free Zone.
Possibly...just possibly, Israel not only has nuclear weapons but even the
(frightening??) the "capacity" for such weapons and other WMD's (eg drones,
Israel manufactures 60% of drones on the world market).

6. Are any of these weapons being made available by Israel to the Saudi
coalition which with the support of al Quaeda affiliates ---and Israel--- is
battling Syria and Iraq. Is this a lethal "game" that is being played?

----Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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My father and I, we're getting close again, until a few months ago, when he learned of my pro-Palestinian rights stance, and my anti-zionists/Israeli position.
He stopped talking to me, as most of my Zionists family members have, but is ironically the head of an anti-nukes organization. I asked him a few years ago about Israel's nuclear capabilites and he shrugged it off.
How can he and the entire anti-nukes community be this brainwashed? It's mind boggling, how the U.S. has bullied the entire world into turning a blind eye to Israel's capabilities, just insane, it just is. Thanks for this piece, publication and opinions,
Jane Zacher Student Philadelphia PA Turtle Island

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Thanks Jane Zacher ! Keep your family but do not sacrifice
your views.

I often eat with someone who ran a kosher household. I once expressed some
of my views and she was intensely hurt. We just agreed NOT to talk about
Israel (etc. etc.). It hurts me sometimes to be forced into silence. She
will be 98 years old in a few days. Occasionally ---she can't help
herself---she begins a pro Israel- type discussion. I just calmly, in a
low even calm voice (although I am boiling inside) say: "We have an
agreement." So we remain friends.

(Of course, Gazans are more than "hurt". We understand that. But we
must respect all views while (often strongly) disagreeing. )

This road is often very difficult---extremely difficult--- for me when I
know what I know, have seen what I have seen.

More comment here would be superfluous.

Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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Entitlement to a Jewish "home"/"state" were concocted in the 19th century
and together with Zionists made policy together with James Arthur Balfour
who in fact wanted as much to rid the UK of Jews (he later introduced
an "alien act" for this purpose).

(The King of Italy refused to become involved. "What about the people
who already live there?" he asked Theodor Herzl. )

Israel is not entitled to any Jewish state at all. Or more correctly to be in the complete and exclusive control only of those Zionists who would be running it.

There are those who sincerely (it says here) believe that the US should be a
(white) Christian state. There were no blacks, Native Americans, Women,Jews
etc. among the "founding fathers." Many US politicians continue to
express this belief as the belief of all at every campaign stop, every
public appearance.

Caanan was taken by one religious group ( possibly also a subgroup
of Cannanites) by bloody conquest which asserted their brutal"right" by
devine mandate. The indigenous had no "rights" and no entitlement. There
are scholarly differences on these "facts" but many are from faith and not "fact".

---Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.