As I read this, I cringe

Peter Beinart’s recent op-ed is an anachronistic apologia constructed around an artificial golden mean.

Beinart seems to have invented Meretz USA, American Friends of Peace Now and the New Israel Fund. He has also discovered the green line and Yitzhak Rabin (both deceased), and the fifteen-year-old Gush Shalom settlement boycott. His declared enemies are the Israeli government and the Palestinian BDS movement, and his weapon of choice is language—fighting a war declared by Yitzhak Shamir (now in a nursing home) in the 1980s. He longs for an Israel that, if it ever existed, died before he was born, and employs even more ancient rhetoric about “Israel’s existence” and the inseparability of “Zionism and democracy”.

For every position he takes, he carefully cites one that he does not take. He does not like the name “Judea and Samaria”, but is equally dissatisfied with the name “West Bank”. He calls for a boycott of “other Jews” (although it pains him to do so), but rejects the goals of BDS. His “democratic Israel” does not include settlements “near the green line” (although “most settlers aren’t bad people”), but he develops an entirely new concept (“right to citizenship”) in order to rationalise his acceptance of the settlements in East Jerusalem. Most importantly, Beinart only appears to call for action against Israel. What he really wants is to save it.

There is nothing new in what Beinart is saying.  It is the classic, liberal Zionist position, largely defeated both in Israel and within the American Jewish establishment.  He presents it as a solution both to Israel’s woes and to growing disaffection with Israel-centred Jewish life in the US.  Yet, a solution in I/P requires far more than the kind of one-sided “generous offers” he implies, and Beinart’s contrived modus vivendi between liberalism and Zionism is unlikely to satisfy the young Jews who keep him awake at night.  At the moment, just having the conversation may seem like progress, but unlike the Madrid Conference of over twenty years ago, Beinart is not even sitting down with the Palestinians.  In the days preceding and following Rabin’s assassination, the Israeli right used to call such exercises “making peace among ourselves”. 

About Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel

Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel is a Canadian-Israeli translator living in Italy.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 109 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. From the point of view of the Israeli anti-settlement ‘Peace Now’ people, who introduced the term ‘occupied territories’ into the public discourse, Beinart has to be Jewish and can only address Jewish Americans. Once you address and ally yourself with non-Jews you are discredited to begin with. That’s part of ‘making peace among ourselves’.

    • Krauss says:

      There’s a grain of truth in that. On the other hand, Israel is supposed to be a Jewish state and thus most of the internal Israeli debate has to be framed in Jewish terms, since the changes will affect the people who live there, and Jews form a significant portion of that population(especially if you’re aiming for a 2SS). This doesn’t mean I agree with this position but I can see why it’s the case of how the debate is framed.

      I would like to say, however, that the author of this piece did a very intelligent and it is so far the best critique that I’ve read. Beinart is not going to change, and nor should he.

      But as I wrote earlier in another thread, he has been silent for most of his career, certainly when he was the editor of The New Republic(the gatekeeper to Israel in liberal discourse) when Labor went nuts with the settlements. Nor did he do anything particular in the run-up to Iraq.

      I read a venomous comment from a right-wing Jew at some site where he basically wrote that Beinart is a political opportunist. He senses where the wind is heading and tries to portray himself as this brave/serious intellectual.

      But when it actually counted and when the 2SS wasn’t on life-support(if it isn’t dead already), Beinart was dead silent. His prescriptions may have had a valid and cogent component to them once upon a time but that was years ago, if not decades. Settlements, including East Jerusalem, now contain over half a million. If Netanyahu can’t even disbandon migron, who thinks he(or any of the opposition, like Labor who have historically stood for most of the settlement growth and spend their political energies these days reaching out and wooing the very settlers they are supposed to oppose) can do anything about that?

      I’m inclined to agree with some of his critics that his life’s work does contain a grain of opportunism. I also think he’s way, way late and this is the last gasp of panicked Liberal Zionists who let the neocons(both Republican and Democrat) run the show. Now they see the fruits of blind and passive loyalty and they want their moral compass back.

      Sorry, too late. You sold it a long time ago.
      Why should these people be listened to now?

      • seafoid says:

        “this is the last gasp of panicked Liberal Zionists ”

        Why are they panicking ?
        What has changed to show up their past behaviour as pointless?

      • pabelmont says:

        Why should Beinart (or NYT) “naturally” speak to Americans but only about “the internal Israeli debate”?

        Why should not the American (not merely Jewish, not merely Zionist, and certainly not Israeli) NYT talk TO the American people about a world human rights problem in which the USA meddles outrageously?

        Is this all merely the politics of getting Jews to “come around” so as to “give permission” to non-Jews to become involved? And an argument that until they do so, non-Jews should “keepa their handsa off”?

      • If Netanyahu can’t even disbandon migron

        he’s expanding it. he’s authorized a land grab next to it and not made them leave. who wants to bet they plan on expanding into the new and not ever leave the old?

    • ‘Peace Now’ people, who introduced the term ‘occupied territories’ into the public discourse

      you mean they wrote about it? under international law it is ‘occupied territory’. i think that was the introduction.

  2. Newclench says:

    “largely defeated both in Israel and within the American Jewish establishment”
    It’s funny when 1SS supporters look at 2SS and consider them to be weak and defeated. As if Israel hasn’t been successful at defeating all Palestinian initiatives regardless of what they represent.
    I wonder how many votes the 1SS folks get in the next Palestinian elections or among Palestinians in the next Israeli elections.

    • Newclench,

      I was not referring to the 2ss per se, but to the Meretz-PN point of view. As for being a 1ss-supporter, I tend to agree with Michael Warschawski (see link below), although the principles behind the 1ss seem more conducive to a solution of any kind than what has passed for a 2ss thus far.

      link to alternativenews.org

    • eljay says:

      >> It’s funny when 1SS supporters look at 2SS and consider them to be weak and defeated.

      It’s even funnier when 2SS supporters see the Jewish state relentlessly expanding to achieve its one-state goal of Greater Israel, with Palestinians pushed into the sea for good measure, and pretend that what they’re seeing isn’t happening.

      >> As if Israel hasn’t been successful at defeating all Palestinian initiatives regardless of what they represent.

      The Jewish state has been very successful at defeating all Palestinian initiatives for a just and mutually-beneficial peace, including those for a two-state solution. Well done, Jewish state. Well done.

  3. Taxi says:

    Shmeul’s excellent deconstruction of Beinart’s political confusions leaves Beinart, as well as all so-called liberal zionists, standing bare-naked and flummoxed before the intellectual globe. ‘Liberal’ zionism is an oxymoron. What will it take for the well-meaning zionist jewish collective to sober up from their delusions of righteousness and realize this? Is there a word in the English language to describe a pathology of tribal inverted guilt? Do nice jews think that it is possible to separate zionism from racism and ethnic cleansing? Cuz it sure hasn’t since its inception in the 19th century. And the proof is everywhere for everyone to see.

    Let’s be clear here also on what the majority of the middle east wants: yes to judaism and a big fat NO to zionism in the holy lands that lay in the heart of Arabia.

    Liberal zionists should pay close attention to the above – it ain’t just about zionists and their ‘special’ needs, it’s also about the needs of the lives of some 380 million Arabs.

    • Mooser says:

      “Is there a word in the English language to describe a pathology of tribal inverted guilt?”

      No, you have to go to Yiddish for that. Although you might have a problem selecting exactly the right one.

  4. Pixel says:

    “having the conversation may seem like progress…”

    But it is.

    Most certainly, without Beinart’s piece, you wouldn’t have written this tremendous response to it, which untold numbers of others, perhaps, including Beinart, himself (I hope), will read, consider, and further discuss. Dare I say, ripple effect?

    Is it fast enough for me? Hardly.

    Is it slow enough to “afflict [some of] the comfortable.” Possibly.

    The “conversation” is not the only thing, but it’s an important thing.

  5. Pixel says:

    Beinart is interesting to me – a young guy with an “old guy’s” frame of mind.
    ,

    However, the older generation, along with their influence, is slowly dying off.

    For some who are younger, Beinart is a bridge.

    Many others have already crossed over and are far beyond.

  6. Les says:

    This reminds me of Graham Greene’s Quiet American in which a middle ground is conjured up where none exists and then disastrous policies are made based upon this wholly imaginary creation.

  7. Kathleen says:

    “In the days preceding and following Rabin’s assassination, the Israeli right used to call such exercises “making peace among ourselves”. Is that so?

  8. RE: “He [Peter Beinart] presents it as a solution both to Israel’s woes
    and to growing disaffection with Israel-centred Jewish life in the US.” ~ Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel

    MY COMMENT: For the life of me, I don’t really understand how what Peter Beinart is saying differs significantly from what Gilad Atzmon is saying. Am I missing “the big picture”? Am I just irredeemably dense/clueless? Tell me the truth; I can handle it. Really, I can!
    At least, I think that I can.

    SEE: Granting No Quarter: A Call for the Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon ~ by Palestinian and Palestine-solidarity activists, 3/13/12

    (excerpt)…Atzmon’s politics rest on one main overriding assertion that serves as springboard for vicious attacks on anyone who disagrees with his obsession with “Jewishness”. He claims that all Jewish politics is “tribal,” and essentially, Zionist. Zionism, to Atzmon, is not a settler-colonial project, but a trans-historical “Jewish” one, part and parcel of defining one’s self as a Jew. . .

    SOURCE – link to uspcn.org

    • P.S. AND I WONDER IF WHAT BEINART AND ATZMON ARE SAYING IS REALLY SO VERY DIFFERENT FROM THIS:
      Israel’s Defense Chief OK’s Hundreds of Israeli Deaths, By Ira Chernus, CommonDreams.org, 11/11/11

      (excerpt). . . An essential motive of Zionism from its beginning was a fierce desire to end the centuries of Jewish weakness, to show the world that Jews would no longer be pushed around, that they’d fight back and prove themselves tougher than their enemies. There was more to Zionism than that. But the “pride through strength” piece came to dominate the whole project. Hence the massive Israeli military machine with its nuclear arsenal.
      But you can’t prove that you’re stronger than your enemies unless you’ve also got enemies — or at least believe you’ve got enemies — to fight against. So there has to be a myth of Israel’s insecurity, fueled by an image of vicious anti-semites lurking somewhere out there, for Zionism to work. Since the 1979 Iranian revolution, Iran has gradually risen to the top of Israel oh-so-necessary enemies list. Iranophobia is rampant in Israel, as one Israeli scholar writes, because “Israel needs an existential threat.”
      Anyone who has grown up in Israel, or in the U.S. Jewish community (as I did), and paid attention knows all this. . .

      ENTIRE COMMENTARY – link to commondreams.org
      ALSO SEE – Iranophobia: The Panic of the Hegemons, by Ira Chernus, Tikkun Magazine, November/December 2010
      LINK – link to tikkun.org

      • Mooser says:

        “a fierce desire to end the centuries of Jewish weakness”

        World population is about, what, 7 billion? Out of which maybe 10-15 million are Jews? I don’t know about “Jewish leaders” but to me, that seems a perfectly good reason for a certain amount of weakness.
        Of course, if Zionists want to cure this weakness, there is a way; and it starts by you giving me your sister’s phone number! Strength-through-Joy, Bubele.

      • Mooser says:

        Dickerson, every second that Atzmon writes or speaks, is another second he is not playing music. Have you listened to some of his stuff? If you have, you might know why everybody gets so mad when he writes or speaks. A guy should do what he’s good, very good at, and avoid doing what he’s lousy at. Beinart doesn’t have this problem as far as I know.

  9. Just a note on terminology:

    I keep hearing the term ‘Zionist colonial enterprise’ (Warschawsky). That’s nonsense. When you have a colony you got to have a mother-country like Britain and her American colonies. In the case of Israel to the Jordan valley this IS considered the Jewish mother-country. That’s what sets this conflict apart from traditional colonial conflicts.

    • When you have a colony you got to have a mother-country like Britain and her American colonies.

      There is “metropole colonialism” and there is “settler colonialism”. Zionism falls into the latter category. See e.g. link to settlercolonialstudies.org

      • Colonialists of old and Zionists

        I do of course not approve of Israel, ‘Judea and Samaria’ or any square inch in the Middle East being considered the Jewish ‘mother-country’. In particular not by people who were born in Buenos Aires or Brooklyn, have the citizenship of their respective countries but reclaim ‘the land of our biblical forefathers’. It’s a metaphysical claim. But this metaphysics is a strong motivational driving force, much stronger than the traditional colonial motive to just exploit a local workforce and levy duties. The colonialists of old knew they didn’t belong there. But the Zionists believe (in the religious sense) they do. This believe has to be discarded.

        But how can someone like Peter Beinart who attends an Orthodox synagogue and sends his children to a Jewish school question and attack the religious-metaphysical basis of Zionist Israel’s ‘settler colonialism’ if you will?

        • Mooser says:

          “But how can someone like Peter Beinart who attends an Orthodox synagogue and sends his children to a Jewish school question and attack the religious-metaphysical basis of Zionist Israel’s ‘settler colonialism’ if you will?”

          Because Jews have no capacity for independent thought, and will automatically swallow everything the Rabbis and “Jewish leaders” tell them? Because meybe Beinart is discovering there’s more to Judaism than worshipping settler colonialism?
          I really don’t understand the nature of your question. Why is it necessary for Beinart to reject religious Judaism if he is critical, or even rejects Zionism?
          Remember, Judaism has been around several thousand years, Zionism not even a hundred. Please, don’t accept the Zionist hogwash that that stealing Israel is the be-all and end-all of Judaism, and that any religious Jew automatically becomes a Zionist.

    • Bumblebye says:

      But it’s not a “mother country”, it’s a “promised land”.
      Zionists always worked very hard to get funding and approval from both their actual mother countries (well, their political classes) and funding from the Diaspora – perhaps “mother communities”. The project couldn’t have got off the ground without both. It was and still IS a colonial project.

    • eljay says:

      >> I keep hearing the term ‘Zionist colonial enterprise’ (Warschawsky). That’s nonsense. When you have a colony you got to have a mother-country like Britain and her American colonies.

      “Zionist conquest enterprise”-turned-”Jewish state colonial enterprise” seems more appropriate.

    • Mooser says:

      “In the case of Israel to the Jordan valley this IS considered the Jewish mother-country.”

      ROTFLMSJAO!!! By who, Klaus, by who? On what evidence? And if it is true, what does that entitle us to?

      “That’s what sets this conflict apart from traditional colonial conflicts.”

      You need to read more and comment less. You’re in way over your head. So you wanna tell me in what way this “mother-country” nonsense entitles the Zionists to do what they did?
      Or maybe the Zionists did nothing wrong, you know, just getting lebensraum for the volk in the Fatherland, or Motherland?

    • dahoit says:

      And all of Europe belongs to the Celts,it’s their mother country.Sheesh.

  10. Okay, I agree that not any religious Jew becomes automatically a Zionist. Actually, the really religious ones reject political Zionism. But there is a strong correlation: the more religious, the more pro Israel and pro ‘Judea and Samaria’. Peter Beinart defies this correlation by attending an Orthodox synagogue and rejecting ‘Judea and Samaria’. That’s why he can raise hell in the American Jewish community unlike a Jew who sends his kids to a regular school, public or private.

    As a German, I find it interesting that for Beinart Hitlerism is not a rational for holding on to the West Bank. He doesn’t mention that at all.

    • Mooser says:

      “That’s why he can raise hell in the American Jewish community unlike a Jew who sends his kids to a regular school, public or private.”

      Just at a venture, Klaus, would you tell me what percentage of America’s Jewish children are educated at cheder’s and yeshiva’s as opposed to public schools or non-demonination affiliated private school?
      oh, never mind, I just read your last sentence and now I’m totally confused! “Hitlerism is not a rational for holding on to the West Bank. He doesn’t mention it at all” Say what? Because Hitler existed and visited atrocities on the Jews is a reason Israel should hold on to the West Bank? You were expecting (“I find it interesting that for Beinart…) My head is spinning. I also thought Hitler was still dead and able to influence events very little. Has there been a change? I never keep up.

  11. Shmuel,

    [Forgive me, for this is a spillover post from the Atzmon thread, but perhaps germane here...]

    I must say I stand greatly enlightened (and uplifted) by your exposition of the various Jewish humanists. My question to you is quick and dirty: where are these people now? Surely you’ll understand if I lump Jewish Humanists into a category that is not dissimilar, in terms of girth, to that of, say, the “Swedes of Hawaiian descent” demographic. Again — in the context of today’s dynamic, where are your homies now?

    Regards -N49.

  12. Mooser says:

    “My question to you is quick and dirty: where are these people now?”

    Look, they once existed, isn’t that enough for you? What the hell do you want from us? And might I remind you that both Newclench and Hophmi and some others, say that they, personally, don’t approve of Israel’s more extreme measures. Isn’t that enough?

  13. shmuel, i have read this over and over and over. it is a gift that keeps on giving. you should write for us more.

  14. My ‘Hitlerism’ comment was somewhat confusing. What I meant is: ‘Why worry about settlements and democracy in the West Bank when there is a new Hitlerism on the rise in Iran. We need the territory for security reasons and survival.’ – Beinart doesn’t bother to mention this argument.

    The head of the German Social Democratic Party visited Hebron latlely, came back and said that he was appalled by the ‘apartheid’ there. That caused an uproar among the friends of Israel for the above mentioned reason.

    As for the percentage of Jewish children attending Jewish schools in America, I’d like to know that number.

    • LeaNder says:

      Klaus, when you reappeared I decided to not get into any discussions with you again. But last time we met on Mondoweiss, quite a few years ago by now, I wasn’t aware that as a teacher you must have been quite famous in Frankfurt’s secondary-chance school system. Some kind of martyr for good achievements and a solid eduction?

      Was your colleague Preißler your age? What were the subjects he taught, what were yours?

      What do you think is the difference between e.g. a Catholic and a Jewish school? Personally I have to admit that at least as far as religious education is concerned, I was always slightly jealous of what feels an advantage in Judaism. In a nutshell: Less dogmas and more discussions, maybe? Less thinking controlled by the select questions and dogmas of e.g. a Catholic catechism? Beyond that I would imagine the subjects are similar due to school laws? No?

    • dahoit says:

      Hitler is being resurrected by your nations(and mine) Hitlerish actions,which have lessened his crimes to just another human gone bad,a very prevalent condition among the conditioned cowards who believe their own bullsh*t,a sign of insanity.
      If Iran aspires to Hitlers infamy,they are doing a very very poor job of it,and their leviathan of speedboats and obsolete aircraft,backed by vintage tanks,are not up to snuff in this world gone mad,and out of the fascist(US and Israel) practice of continual warfare,as they haven’t initiated conflict with anyone in 200? years.
      Ah,those damn facts!(spots)begone!

      • Mooser says:

        Oy Vey No wonder there’s a Goodwin’s Law! I don’t know, can’t tell, whether Klaus endorses the Iran-is-Hitler argument, or is wondering why Beinart doesn’t use the argument.

        BTW, the number of Jewish Americans who send their kids entirely to “Jewish” schools? No, not those who send their kids to religious instruction one or two sessions a week (and sometimes more as Bar-Bas Mitzvah preparation approaches) but actually send their kids to Cheders and yeshivas for their entire education? I would gues it’s in the nature of teeny-tiny.

        And don’t miss the Benny Morris article over at Beinart’s new Zion Square site. Is it, too, cringeworthy?

    • Mooser says:

      “Beinart doesn’t bother to mention this argument.”

      Klaus, nobody, even Peter Beinart, will deliberately set about to make themselves a laughingstock if they can avoid it.

  15. David Samel says:

    Shmuel, very insightful analysis on Beinart’s shortcomings. However, I am somewhat ambivalent about people like Beinart, who appear to be moving in the right direction, but ever so painfully slowly. I see a little of myself in him. I was raised in a Zionist household, awakening to the worst aspects of Israeli behavior, and finally arriving at the conclusion that the whole enterprise was immoral and doomed from the start. I assume you had a similar journey. Should we condemn such people for being stuck in the mud, or should we encourage them to keep moving? btw, I see your essay as somewhat in the middle — unsparing criticism that stops short of accusations of personal dishonesty and racism.

    • Thanks, David. I’ve defended and praised Beinart a few times on MW, but felt that this op-ed was a step backward, an attempt to establish a comfort zone. You’re right of course about the journey, but challenges and criticism are no less important (and often more important) to the process than encouragement and support.

      • Mooser says:

        Seems to me there would be a hell of a difference between being raised as a Zionist in America, or raised as a Zionist in Israel. I would think it’s a much, much longer and harder road to non-or anti-Zionism in Israel than it is in America.
        Shmuel has, here and there, told us quite a bit about his journey. My God, I’m glad that wasn’t me. As weak-minded and conformist and prone to follow authourity as I am, I’d probably still be churning out screeds for the IDF.

        • andrew r says:

          Had I grown up in the Zionist Entity, I would definitely be stained with an IDF service, just as I’m stained by not resisting the non-existent draft you have to register for. Once you send in that selective service card, you can’t unsend it.

    • Mooser says:

      “However, I am somewhat ambivalent about people like Beinart, who appear to be moving in the right direction, but ever so painfully slowly”

      Oh, I’m sure Beinart will eventually get to full-on anti-Zionism, and thunder like the ancient prohets against the sins of the Zionists. And I’m willing to bet he’ll get there on the day the last Palestinian is dead, or driven away.

  16. piotr says:

    I second David Samel.

    While actions proposed by Beinart are clearly inadequate, no actions of civil society will be adequate in the sense of forcing change. They may provide encouragement for domestic opposition in Israel, or not. The key is to describe the situation, what Israeli Hasbara chiefs call “delegitimization”. Yes Virginia, it is apartheid, or to be precise, hate and paranoia driven oppression, dispossession and separation.

    If we support that, we themselves are guilty of hate, paranoia and bottomless hypocrisy which is unfortunately very transparent.

    Consensus on description is more important than consensus on action. Without a tectonic shift neither 2SS nor 1SS is a viable option. We must wait until the Birnam Wood will move to Dunsinane.

    A separate issue is if “within 1967 lines” there is a democracy. Ideally, in a democracy different parties try to solve common problems according to their particular views. The other end of the spectrum is “winner takes all, screw you”. Plus there are dimensions like the degree of cleptocracy and the role of security apparatus. Israel does not look “robust”, but perhaps better than Turkey and Lebanon.

  17. Off topic – personal note

    I dislike the headline of the Spiegel article. Me and my collegue, who is also a sociologist my age, taught civics/politics, social science. We were both fighting the Marxists/Maoists at that school who wanted to turn Germany into an egalitarien society by abolishing grades in school i.e. giving every student an A. After I was fed up with that school (it was completely idiotic but therefore also sometimes amusing) I quit and hichhiked up to Alaska to work in a goldmine. But they wouldn’t hire me. … Anyway, after nearly a year on the road and feeling nearly faded as my jeans I thumbed a diesel down that took me and Bobby McGee all the way to New York and back to Frankfurt where I resumed teaching.

    As to the difference between a Catholic and a Jewish school. I have no idea. My mother taught at a Jewish school (sports/physical exercise) in the early 1930s – but I forgot to ask her before she died. I wasn’t interested in Judaism at that time.

    • LeaNder says:

      I dislike the headline of the Spiegel article.

      Actually I read it quite a bit differently after a minor research in the live and context of Protestant theologian Otto Michel. I was catapulted into the whole story by an spontaneous email to Avner Falk and thus learned about the remains of a Tora scroll anda Tora plate in the legacies of two scholars from Tübingen

      I wasn’t aware that Nazi students dominated the halls of university even before the Nazis seized power in some places and that among the students of theology many were SA members. Strictly I have quite a bit of sympathy with your story, I had huge troubles with the diverse left-wing groups and their unfortunately often successful attempt to take over the classes at Free University Berlin in the early 70s with the same Marx and Hegel texts over and over again. Easy credits. So yes, I can understand and I see parallels now. Being left was an easy escape, it felt then. So I went to England for a while.

    • LeaNder says:

      I quit and hichhiked up to Alaska to work in a goldmine.

      Actually this is quite funny. With statements like this you have to take care Mooser doesn’t spot them. ;) Welcome back.

      • Mooser says:

        Ah yes, Lea, the parallels and precise correlation of attitudes and action between the leftist students of the 70′s and the National Socialist SA in the 30′s are just so exact and so glaring, I don’t know how I missed them up til now.

        • LeaNder says:

          Look honeypie, don’t get me wrong. My heart beats on the left. But what happened at the time was a mass movement, Marxist-Lenists, Trotzkists Moa-Ists, DKP (communists, instrumentalized, and paid by the East) Reich’ists, I even remember groups carrying Ghadafi’s green bible around. All with similarly crude propaganda leaflets, if you ask me.

          I tried to e.g. learn more about literature leading up to the 1848 revolution, you should have thought political people studying literature would want the same. No chance I tell you. A special group seemed to follow me everywhere I went. A heard of sheep around a leader. Every time they took over, they dictated the same literature. In the Tutorien, seminars by post-graduates, everyone introduced himself via his political curriculum vitae. A very peculiar show.

          At one point I joined a Das Kapital study group. But on the boarders of this groups peculiar things started to happen, around a type appearing seemingly out of nowhere, if you know what I mean. And suddenly there were weapons and explosives. From then on more urgent duties than politicizing factory workers, something I considered highly arrogant anyway. By now I know what it was, and why it felt wrong. You don’t have an idea to what extend the old boy networks via whatever kind of services reached into these naive masses. Some of them were instrumentalized, directed and paid by interests they did or did not completely understand. Obsolutely no doubt.

        • Mooser says:

          Yes, I remember all that. The constant beatings of elderly women and children, with the local police standing by doing nothing, everywhere shattered shop windows, looted by leftists with the cops joining in. And the offices which were really torture chambers, into which anybody suspected of right-wing sympathy was dragged, and the police ignored the screams coming out of them and the blood trickling under the door.
          I find it very hard to consider the left-wing students of the 60s and 70s on a par with the Nazi street thugs of the late 20s and 30s.

        • Mooser says:

          “Look honeypie, don’t get me wrong. My heart beats on the left. But what happened at the time was a mass movement, Marxist-Lenists, Trotzkists Moa-Ists, DKP (communists, instrumentalized, and paid by the East) Reich’ists, I even remember groups carrying Ghadafi’s green bible around. All with similarly crude propaganda leaflets, if you ask me.”

          Sure, that may have been tough, but did you see the hippies and rock-and-rollers which infested the US during that period? They were this close to bringing down US society! I’ve heard that bra manufacturers and barbers were committing suicide in droves. And then came “glam” and “disco” so clothes and hair were important again, and the Union endured. It was close tho. Escaped apocalypse by a hairsbreast.

        • LeaNder says:

          No doubt the left was usually shot down in the times leading up to the Nazis both in Vienna and Berlin, just like it probably tends to be today, although not quite to the same extend. I just didn’t like political indoctrination, or that literature considered to be worth reading should be reduced “Barrikaden am Wedding”/ barricades in (?) Wedding.

          Look, I don’t have problems to admit that I “sympathized” with the choice of “some” of the later targets at the time. I have to be honest. The mother of a friend once put it really well to the utter consternation of the illustrious circle present at the opening of an art exhibition of her daughter, a good friend, is it any wonder our kids revolt given how we treat our past?

          I was a little too early for the later more artful left, and I firmly belonged to the type of leftists that neocon Irving Kristol in an article singled out for utter disdain, the ones he especially despised, looking back at that age, the artist. (e.g. in the States SF, City lights bookshop, Beat Generation)

          No doubt the left never had the same power as these right student circles:

          Kraus’s attitude to the anti-Semitic Innsbruck students who in 1920 successfully intimidated the civic authorities into cancelling a lecture he was due to give shows clearly that at this stage he did not feel himself threatened by such mindless anti-Semtiism. He merely dismissed them as ignorant, and beneath serious consideration:

          “…people who know nothing more of me than I am of Jewish ancestry, and have thus probably come to Innsbruck to do business … People who have uniforms, and consequently no uncertainties, … and who would be totally taken aback if they found out that I have something about the Jewish press …”

          John Theobald, The paper Ghetto. Karl Kraus and Anti-Semitism, 1996

          I simply don’t like “mental uniforms” of any type, and people with no uncertainties.

          I think today we can’t deny that Mao instrumentalized students too for his own designs, can we? A friend of mine in London, another shoe string artist writing very good poems, once put it this way: If you move far enough on the left you wind up on the right. There tends to be one that decides what people should believe and what their lives should look like.

        • LeaNder says:

          Kristol doesn’t mention the Beat Generation, but he may well have them in mind. They were my favorites.

        • LeaNder says:

          shit happens. I shut up now, promised. ;)

          not out that I have something about the Jewish press
          but: that I have something against the Jewish press.

    • Mooser says:

      “We were both fighting the Marxists/Maoists at that school who wanted to turn Germany into an egalitarien society by abolishing grades in school i.e. giving every student an A.”

      Damn those grade-inflating Marxists, Maoists! Good Gott in Himmel, how can Germany endure and prevail without a strict hiarchy and a big base of declared failures! Do you think Mercedes-Benz and BMW got where they are today by giving every car a passing grade?

      “As to the difference between a Catholic and a Jewish school. I have no idea. My mother taught at a Jewish school (sports/physical exercise) in the early 1930s – but I forgot to ask her before she died. I wasn’t interested in Judaism at that time.

      And gee, if things had just gone a different way, you never would have been troubled with them again! But here they are, sticking there cosmopolitan heads up and causing trouble.

      Oh yeah, we got us a live one here, baby!

    • Mooser says:

      “As to the difference between a Catholic and a Jewish school. I have no idea”

      So after all your blather about what goes on in “Jewish schools” and the significance of Beinart sending his kids to which kind school, that’s what it comes to? Yeah, okay, Perfesser.

  18. David Samel says:

    Shmuel, I actually agree with your tone and think the most important reaction to Beinart is a sober criticism of his analysis like you and Adam have done. However, I do tend to distinguish among “liberal Zionists” between those who I think are sincerely committed to principles but unable to break free of the mold and adopt what they have always considered an unthinkable position — in this instance that the Jewish State wasn’t such a great idea after all; and those who are smugly dishonest in appearing to accept some liberal principles — oh dear, the occupation is bad — while really trying to preserve the status quo. For example, how does the liberal Zionist relate to those who have traveled further toward anti-Zionism, and how willing is the liberal Zionist to piss off friends and colleagues who remain more glued to their position. I certainly don’t think that people like Beinart should be spared vigorous thoughtful criticism of their position, but personal invective can only retard any progress they might be willing to make. I know I would have reacted defensively had I been accused of personal dishonesty or racism when I thought Israel’s excesses should be curbed but its existence as a Jewish State was perfectly fine. Indeed, the only criticism I got was from those who questioned whether I was being anti-Semitic and supporting terrorism, thereby pushing me further and further away.

  19. Danaa says:

    I am amazed that Beinart is getting this much play, as if it really mattered whether it’s settlement BDS or a slightly larger, but still narrowly targeted scheme. People continue to pretend that there is a way of getting to israel through these miniscule , woefully inadequate actions, as if the majority of Israelis give a hoot on whether the world will slap them on the wrist with a feather or a pencil. Why would Israelis (and I mean not just the government but the people who elect them and just love the walls that keep out palestinians) care what a tiny group of activists do or say when it is so successfully marginalized by the zionist establishment in the US, and tacitly supported by the vast majority of the American Jewish people?

    While posters here on the one side and a few J Street clowns on the other wring their hands about a couple of minor throw aways from the jewish “prince” Beinart, Israelis – with the full support of their zionist friends in the US – are carrying on with their own plan for the palestinians, which include the state-supported blitzkrieg designed to leave them with less and less to live on, even as they are slowly but surely herded into pre-selected zones, which are to become their ghetto, just before they are “transferred” somewhere else. The plan is obviously to take over Area C first (which is already nearly done, with fewer than 300,000 Palestinians remaining), then move into area B, using a careful pincer movement. What happens after that is anyone’s guess, but it certainly does not involve some grandiose “One state solution”. Or rather, it does, but with the few remaining palestinians reduced to the caste of untouchables, as others are banished through any and all means.

    This entire conversation – on this thread and the multiple others that deal with the liberal zionists out to “Help Israel” be it’s “better self”, as if such was possible, remind me of rearranging the chairs on the deck of the titanic. I understand people don’t want to process what is really happening, but by concentrating on minutiae of doing so little with so few while pretending there’s a mysterious avalanche of good will coming down any second, they are actually helping israel cover up what it does and the much worse it intends to do.

    There is of course something that can be done to change the course of events, but that involves a complete boycott of israel and even most Israelis – on a personal as well as state level. Knowing what I do about israelis, I believe that nothing short of sanctions similar to those applied to Iran will work to move them away from the path they are set on. To think otherwise is Polyannish. To me, a real boycott means shunning anyone – even family members – who, in any way, by deed or words, give sustenance to the evil enterprise that’s upon us all. If that sounds extreme to some here, so be it. But nothing short of extreme will work to arrest the poison that’s taken over the souls of the people who call themselves Israeli and purport to be “Jewish”. And I just hope people realize that when that poison works it’s way ever deeper and further, there will be repercussions for all – Jewish and otherwise.

    PS I am not particularly impressed with Beinart. Who and how was it decided to appoint him as “prince”? he is neither a better writer nor clearer thinker than 1000 others I’ve come across, and is certainly head and shoulders below Tony Judt or Greenwald, just to name a couple members in not-so-good standing of the tribe. Beinart is first and foremost a tribalist, and he writes as one, doing the navel gazing a bit more sophisticatedly than others. But navel gazing and hand wringing is what he specializes in, as he is foisted on the shoulders of the midgets below him like Goldberg et al, another seriously not-particularly=-talented so-called “prince of the jews (with small ‘j’)” (ah, what’s that here? an Atzmonism?). What Beinart wants to protect are not humans at large, but the subset of humans who are favorite members of his own self-designated tribal circle. To me, he and Goldberg are two sides of the same coin, both generating plenty of hoopla, but in the end, each working his beat, kicking up the dust storm to better cover up the atrocities carried out in all our names. Tweedle dee and twiddle dum – it’s all in a Twaddle, as they say.

    • LeaNder says:

      inimitably, Danaa, our princess of rant.

      Who and how was it decided to appoint him as “prince”?

      How about finding out for us? Sean McBride can help you on network analysis.

      • American says:

        Beinart, according to DC insider Steve Clemons of the New America Foundation, TWN and The Altlantic is a sort of Jewish prince within the Democratic party political machine, but he is of the hawkish wing of the Dems.
        Whether that connection is related to his present activities or not who can say, but it’s probably why he is able to get prominent press placement.

    • Mooser says:

      “To me, a real boycott means shunning anyone – even family members – who, in any way, by deed or words, give sustenance to the evil enterprise that’s upon us all.”

      One word of warning. As was made perfectly clear to me by lawyers after my Mom passed away, an inheritance is a gift not an obligation. No-one is obligated by any law to pass their assets on in any given proportion to their issue, or pass their assets, estate on to their children at all.
      Keep that in mind, and act appropriately!
      And listen, shmegegies because you got away with marrying out doesn’t obligate anybody to anything either. Remember, if they leave it all to the Vatican (just to pick a possibility) they won’t have to face you when the testament is read. Surprise!
      Sorry to be so frank, but I don’t want anybody to get hurt.

      • Mooser says:

        “Or rather, it does, but with the few remaining palestinians reduced to the caste of untouchables, as others are banished through any and all means.”

        Ah, so that’s why all those Israelis are studying the history of American Western expansion in the 18th Century. Gosh, I’m flattered!

      • Mooser says:

        In case anybody gets the wrong idea about my parents, I should mention they were very generous to me in their will. My father had a shoe-repair business, and always told me: “Son, when I die, this awl will be yours!”

    • American says:

      Bravo Danaa.
      If I could write as coherently, I would have written that exactly myself.

    • Danaa,

      I agree about the desperateness of the situation and the woeful inadequacy of playing nice (or nearly nice) and hoping Israelis and their supporters will come around, but I don’t think across the board shunning is the answer either. A combination of the two perhaps? Full BDS, while trying to build coalitions against Israel’s more egregious violations of human rights and international law – even within its natural support base? Just getting the cheerleaders to step aside from time to time could be helpful.

      • Mooser says:

        You are so right, Shmuel. Actively opposing Zionism is just hopeless.
        I’m so glad you are here to remind us of that.
        Would you like to tell me how on earth we can do anything but compromise ourselves by co-operating with Zionists?

        • Mooser says:

          Frankly, Shmuel, I consider the Zionists to be such a danger to Judaism, and Jews, and their ideology so corrupt, that there is no possible rapproachment with them.
          On the other hand, the course you are suggesting is, I am very sure, one of the best ways to get other people to think the same thing.
          Of course, if you want to give me an example (and you know a lot more about this than I do) of when an intra-religious movement of Jews, lead by Jews, ostensibly to benefit Jews, has worked out, I am all ears. They used to make fun of me in grade school because of that. (Gosh, was I glad when longer hair on men became the fashion.)

        • David Samel says:

          Mooser, you are interpreting Shmuel as saying “Actively opposing Zionism is just hopeless” and we should “co-operate with Zionists.” Seriously? Just because he said, “I don’t think across the board shunning is the answer.” Do you refuse to speak to everyone who supports the idea of a Jewish State? Do you administer a questionnaire on Israel and Zionism before you do business with someone?

          If anyone wants to shun me because I don’t, that’s their decision and their problem. But I don’t shun people who disagree with me, on Israel or abortion or taxes or placement of the local stop sign. And that is not a plea for “cooperation with Zionists.”

        • Mooser,

          Since you’ve never had the “privilege” of being a Zionist, I’ll fill you in on some of the things I got up to while still a Z: protests against the theft of Palestinian land and settler harassment, rebuilding demolished Palestinian homes, advocacy for full equality within Israel, opposition to Israeli state violence in the OT and Lebanon, and so forth. Fortunately, there were some anti-Zionists (including Michael Warschawski of the AIC and a number of Palestinian activists – including Marwan Barghouti) who thought it was better to cooperate (and argue) with Zionists like me than shun us. I’m sure that “cooperating with Zionists” wasn’t their sole strategy, but they obviously didn’t consider it a waste of time either.

        • tree says:

          I seldom have time to post here at any length these days, but I am struck by the disparate treatment of Atzmon and Beinart. Atzmon “must be shunned” and yet it is the subtle racism of the Beinarts of the world that is much more of a danger to Palestinians than Atzmon ever is, was or will be. When one can figure out that puzzle maybe more progress can be made. If I had more time I’d expand on that theme more. Perhaps later. Perhaps this short point will inspire others to contemplate on the matter.

        • Mooser says:

          “Do you refuse to speak to everyone who supports the idea of a Jewish State? Do you administer a questionnaire on Israel and Zionism before you do business with someone?”

          Yup, just dropped a darn good dentist because of it. You know why? Cause I know, deep in my soul, that I am no better than a Palestinian. All they have to do is reveal to me what they think should be done to the Palestinians or more commonly “the Arabs”, and I know sure as sh-t, that’s exactly what they will do to me, one way or another. I learned long ago that when the inferior people aren’t available to prey on, they simply turn on each other, and make “Arabs” or Palestinians out of those they feel can be taken.
          Ever have a non-Jewish person sneer at your anti-Zionism, and say (and I quote, ver-frickin-batim) “Well, most Jews would disagree with you!” Man, that tells me all I need to know.
          Dave, maybe you are confident you will always be treated as well as a Jew, but I found out early nobody is gonna treat me any better than they would an “Arab”
          So yeah, the slightest hint of Zonism or endorsement of racial or ethnic superiority, and I’m out of there. After all, there are plenty of people who don’t embrace ethnic or tribal superiority and more every day. Sure, they’re not as nice, don’t dress as well, may not have as much money, but at least I have some assurance ethnic cleansing and stealing from those they consider “inferior” isn’t among their preferred tactics.
          And it’s worked for me. I’ve seen what’s happened to people like me who make the mistake of thinking “hey, I’m on the inside, nobody with the right ethnic and class credentials is gonna screw me”. Homelessness and bankruptcy has no attraction for me, and I can always get false teeth.

        • tree,

          Beinart has not been embraced by parts of the Palestinian solidarity movement as a spokesman and representative of Palestinian rights. To the extent that Beinart is given (thus far indirect) platforms by any part of the movement, it is clear that he is an outsider, who espouses a racist ideology. He is praised for the steps that he has taken in the right direction and criticised for his inconsistencies and unacceptable positions.

          Palestinian leaders of the movement have made it clear that Atzmon does not represent their values and goals, and that they find his views harmful to the Palestinian cause. I don’t think any such clarification is required where Beinart is concerned.

        • Mooser says:

          Shmuel, so know we are back to you-have-to-have-been-a-Zionist-to-have-any-standing argument?
          And BTW, would you like to tell us how much your actions affected the Jewish State? Not enough for you to stay there, I know that.

          Sorry, Shmuel, my position is that the Zionists are hijacking, stealing, and raping something which belongs to me not to them. Jesus Christ, I may not be very observant, but I have never defiled Judaism by using it as an excuse for plunder and murder. Maybe that’s because I was not subject to the exigencies of the Holocaust and Pogroms. But I am very sure that if God wanted to make me a Zionist through that suffering, he could very easily arrange it. Since he didn’t, I’m not going to spit in his face, nor will I insult those who really did endure those things by pretending a) that I can, through ethnic style (persecution chic I call that) understand it, or B) pretend that persecution was just a strengthening exercise which made us better people, not a degraqding and brutalising experience which damaged us. In that case, I guess we are just doing the Palestinians a big favor, huh?

          And I might mention, Shmuel, that you are spelling your name wrong. My Spel-chek highlights it every time it appears.

        • tree says:

          He is praised for the steps that he has taken in the right direction and criticised for his inconsistencies and unacceptable positions.

          Which should be the very reaction to Atzmon as well.

          Palestinian leaders of the movement have made it clear that Atzmon does not represent their values and goals, and that they find his views harmful to the Palestinian cause.

          As are Beinart’s views, and again, there should be no differential treatment. Wish I had time to expound right now but I don’t, except to add, if those calling for a “big tent” are really serious about their desire for one, and not using it as a passive-aggressive tool to pound the movement over the head, then there should be room for both Atzmon and Beinart. (I’m not including you personally in this last point, BTW.).

        • you are spelling your name wrong

          Damn. The one thing I was pretty sure I got right. How should I be spelling it?

        • Mooser says:

          “Since you’ve never had the “privilege” of being a Zionist, I’ll fill you in on some of the things I got up to while still a Z: protests against the theft of Palestinian land and settler harassment, rebuilding demolished Palestinian homes, advocacy for full equality within Israel, opposition to Israeli state violence in the OT and Lebanon, and so forth.”

          If only the Palestinians could do those things for themselves! But since they can’t, they were lucky to have you. Still, you having sacrificed so much in their behalf, it’s just darned ungrateful that they don’t immediately fall in with anything you propose. My goodness, the way you put it, I get the feeling that the dissolution of Zionism will spell the end of the Palestinians. I mean, how could they get along without you?

        • David Samel says:

          tree, that is certainly food for thought. As someone who might be guilty of your accusation, let me offer this response. Atzmon has been shunned by the numerous Palestinian activists who signed the two letters that were posted, and I said I don’t blame them. He is trying to be on their side, but is stinking up the joint.

          Beinart is not trying to speak on behalf of Palestinian rights. His analysis is weak, his judgment is poor, and he certainly should be challenged rather than welcomed. But despite all the earnest efforts of all the pro-Palestinian voices in the entire world, Palestinians themselves remain mired in Israeli-imposed misery. More minds have to be changed before things will get better. Basically, the question is whether to explain in detail to the Beinarts of this world why they are wrong, in the hopes of moving them further to embrace equality rather than cling to privilege, or simply to say “Fuck off.” I don’t see much to gain by the latter option. If Beinart or others like him dig in their heels, so be it. This involves no compromise whatsoever, no movement in their direction, just simply continuing to present a point of view in a coherent, civil manner. I do believe that at some point in my past, I would have found Beinart’s positions to be persuasive and consistent with my own. I’m not 100% sure how I changed, but I do know that hostility from the pro-Palestinian side would not have helped one bit.

          That being said, I have to agree that on many questions, I probably would find myself closer to Atzmon’s philosophy than Beinart’s, and find your comparison to be well worth thinking about.

        • seafoid says:

          Mooser

          Every so often there is a piece on here that gets to the real heart of the matter and this is one of them

          “Sorry, Shmuel, my position is that the Zionists are hijacking, stealing, and raping something which belongs to me not to them. Jesus Christ, I may not be very observant, but I have never defiled Judaism by using it as an excuse for plunder and murder”

        • Mooser says:

          ““Sorry, Shmuel, my position is that the Zionists are hijacking, stealing, and raping something which belongs to me not to them. Jesus Christ, I may not be very observant, but I have never defiled Judaism by using it as an excuse for plunder and murder”
          I should have added:
          “And once you do that, and/or then try to get me to co-sign on the basis of
          ethnic solidarity, I am never, ever going, to trust your definition of Judaism, Jewishness, or whatever. I would be a fool to do so, and quite possibly, when the time comes, your next victim. I don’t know much about Judaism, but I know what I like, and that ain’t it. You think I’m wrong? Get God to give me a call and explain why, and until then, go away. You wanna tell me what God says? That’s when I call the men with the white jackets and butterfly nets, I’ve got no time to listen to lunatics.

        • Mooser says:

          “How should I be spelling it?”

          I’m sorry Shmuel (sp), I just noticed it’s always highlighted by spel-chek. I didn’t check the suggested correct spelling. I just threw that in because I was sure it was a devastating clincher for my argument.
          After some reflection, I concluded it would be best for you spell it any way you want, as long as it’s right.
          Anyway, I just checked my comments with Spiel-Chek, and the only suggested alternative was “delete, and apologize, but it probably won’t do any good” Oh well.

        • I just threw that in because I was sure it was a devastating clincher for my argument.

          It was.

          After some reflection, I concluded it would be best for you spell it any way you want, as long as it’s right.

          You’re not just saying that out of a sense of “ethnic solidarity”, I hope.

        • Mooser says:

          “You’re not just saying that out of a sense of “ethnic solidarity”, I hope.”

          No, probably more from empathy. My parents always said they were too poor to afford middle names for us. I was nearly grown before I found out the truth.

        • American says:

          LOL…damn right Mooser.

      • Danaa says:

        Shmuel,

        A combination of the two perhaps? Full BDS, while trying to build coalitions against Israel’s more egregious violations of human rights and international law – even within its natural support base?

        I said before that far be it from me to discourage any activism on any front. A combination of everything any of us can contribute is the way to go. Those who can talk to Israelis who may be wavering on some invisible fence should absolutely do so. Same for the wayvering zionist and/or Israeli Firster in the US. . I am so not advocating shunning someone like Beinart just as I did not agree with shunning Atzmon or Shahak in his day. But I also do not think Beinart should be treated with some great deference as he did not earn it based on his work, words or actions any more than anyone else, and certainly not more so than some who I’ve read right here on Mondoweiss (including Phil Weiss himself to whom I would indeed defer for all he has said and done). based on your most worthy post we are hardly in disagreemnt over Beinart and his like.

        The shunning I advocate is indeed along the lines of a full BDS of Israel, primarily because I believe that it’s the only thing that can be effective, if enough join in. Not that I entertain any false hope that the US – as a country – will impose the needed sanctions (too bad as that would indeed be effective real fast). After all, the way things look, it’s impossible to make as much as a tiny dent in the flow of money from here to there. But if enough people, groups, institutions and organizations can be convinced to join in, even relatively small numbers can help in shaking a few more Israelis out of their stupor.

        To be fair, even I cannot carry “full BDS” all the way. We all make exceptions, and yes, there are a few people I still rather like in Israel (and outside) and a few for whom I have considerable professional and personal respect (which we can maintain by scrupulously avoiding certain subjects). The BDS I can honestly support is therefore more along the lines of “from each what they can”, but let’s all try for the most we each can do. Alas, I do have to admit that, good rants aside, I am human (well, kind of). Sometimes it’s a lot easier to resort to the shunning defense than to admit that one has simply been remise in picking up the phone.

        Seriously though, the one position I have been reasonably consistent about, is that when fighting such an uphill battle, it is best to do so on multiple fronts. Even while recognizing that not everyone can fight on every front, and we don’t even have to align on every single point. If you think Atzmonite* is potentially deadly for your front, and can melt your good allies, by all means avoid his company. But for my kind of front, which is the deliberately divisive kind (hey, someone has to go for the jugular), he provides some real useful tools. Besides, I’ve been known to deploy worse weapons still.

        ___
        * however did I get to this again? I think I’ll just blame tree – she brought it up first….

    • eljay says:

      >> Israelis … are carrying on with their own plan for the palestinians, which include the state-supported blitzkrieg designed to leave them with less and less to live on, even as they are slowly but surely herded into pre-selected zones, which are to become their ghetto, just before they are “transferred” somewhere else.

      Like the liberal Zionist “humanist” once said about ethnic cleansing: “Currently its not necessary.” His inability to condemn its use in the past was distasteful enough, but his refusal to condemn its use at any time in the future – should it become “necessary” once again – was disturbing.

      If equally- or less-liberal Zionists and Israelis are of the same mind as he is, well, that does not bode well for the Palestinians.

    • Elliot says:

      I will also pick up on Danaa’s memorable ‘prince’ jibe….I wonder about Beinart’s elevation to royalty too. I can’t help but think that the Orthodox bit plays into it. As we are constantly reminded, Peter Beinart identifes as Orthodox Jewish (did you hear he attends an Orthodox synagogue…and btw he sends his kids to an Orthodox school/summer camp etc etc etc).

      Who knows how integrated Beinart is in his particular Orthodox synagogue, how much he relies on that community for his social circle and what their level of tolerance is and how much he depends on them for developing his own mores.

      Of all the 19th century Jewish religious inventions, Orthodoxy is seen by – Jews of all beliefs and standards of practice – as the most authentic link to the past. Or perhaps, it’s the abysmally low expectations one has of the Orthodox. If a secular or Reform Jew says something reasonable, that’s not news, but Beinart! – he’s Orthodox AND he transcends tribalism. Wow.

      @ David Samel, this is not an ad hominem at Beinart but a comment on how he plays in our media.

      • . If a secular or Reform Jew says something reasonable, that’s not news, but Beinart! – he’s Orthodox AND he transcends tribalism. Wow.

        here’s the thing elliot. that stuff you just told us “all the 19th century Jewish religious …” etc etc etc…it’s not really going to matter to the vast majority of americans who hear about bds because of beinart. this idea you have about him standing out because he’s orthodox…that kind of stuff only matters to jews or people in ‘the know’. i can tell you right now why someone like me thinks what he says has traction, it’s his old connection to aipac, msm access and and the fact he comes from the mainstream or the ‘other side’.

        any boycott of israel will not be effective with out support from the other 98%, the ones that are not impressed by the orthodox aspect of his life. where i come from it’s sort of rude making any kind of opinion about someone elses religion.

        AT LEAST 80% of americans have never heard of bds, at least. many more know what the settlements are. the amount of people who will become aware of bds because of beinart is what matters. it’s his access to the media that he’s using that makes the difference.

        the boycott of SA took 30 years, we’re at about 6 1/2. it’s the exposure to the other 98% that counts.

        i agree w/danaa there should be sanctions. that won’t happen til there’s a change of opinion in america. we need to change americas mind, and we can. and most of america will care less because he’s orthodox.

        • Mooser says:

          Madoff wasn’t an “Orthodox Jew”?

        • Elliot says:

          Annie – Clearly, there is much more to Beinart than his religious affiliation. And it’s his views and his journalistic credentials and AIPAC affiliation that matter more. But, if it’s inconsequential – or, as you say, rude – why are we constantly reminded of it?
          As you say, an overwhelming majority of Americans have never heard of BDS, and they also haven’t heard of Orthodox Judaism. But the “people in the know” including many Jews do care about that. That’s why they keep on reminding us of it.
          As for changing his views, that can’t be the reason. Almost everybody I know who is radical on Israel/Palestine did the same.

        • But the “people in the know” including many Jews do care about that. That’s why they keep on reminding us of it.

          oh, i agree with that. it’s probably not inconsequential or rude if your talking within the tribe. i meant people who are not religious..(the millions of people who will need to join the boycott for it to be effective) i don’t think beinart is really talking to non jews. maybe he is but that kind of stuff is not going to matter to us so much. i could be wrong. but the whole prince or royalty thing, i don’t know if non tribals are really going to relate to that. i think it’s a kind of code. but once bds picks up and spreads outside the activist and/or jewish community it will just be remembered he wasn’t some flaming lefty but on the ‘inside’. i think.

      • David Samel says:

        Elliot, I agree with a lot of what you say. But the media anoints people without rhyme or reason. Greg Smith has become a household name overnight. I don’t consider Beinart much different from other liberal Zionists, like Gorenberg and Slater, in writing talent or philosophy (though Slater has been better at acknowledging, documenting and condemning Israeli crimes). Interestingly, Beinart’s Zion Square blog published a criticism of his op-ed from Yousef Munayyer, occasional mw writer, so he is not shying away from debate with those to his “left.”

      • seafoid says:

        Just following what is going on in the Orthodox community in Israel and of all the Jewish sub groups they seem to be the one with the most work to do to get up to scratch. Israeli orthodoxy is mass delusion.
        I can’t take seriously people who won’t touch lights on Saturdays but vote for ethnic cleansers.

  20. piotr says:

    I have a policy of partial BDS. My supermarket has rather few products of dubious political correctness, but they include Sabra humus and Kedem cookies. I would never buy any UNLESS there is two for the price of one deal or better. My private recommendation is that sanctions imposed on Iran should be copied. Forcing Iran to sell oil at deep discount, with the price difference benefiting more courageous and less opulent nations, that model can be extended to Kedem.

    • Elliot says:

      I would never buy any UNLESS there is two for the price of one deal or better.
      Fair enough. If we got two viable states instead of the one we now have, I would make the same deal.

    • Mooser says:

      “I have a policy of partial BDS. My supermarket has rather few products of dubious political correctness…”

      Thank God, I’m not faced with that problem. I just don’t eat. I find it affects my appetite.

  21. I like you a lot Mooser. – Sometimes you are completely idiotic and hence very amusing. Like some of my former Marxist/Maoist students.

    • Mooser says:

      And you are an officious and pretentious know-it-all, who I feel is not being at all honest with us, but that’s mainly because you are incapble of being honest with yourself. Klaus, I’ve got two words to say to you, and the second one is “off”. And the quicker you are about it, the better. So far, from the way you write, I don’t like you at all.
      But as I mentioned, this is a very difficult way to have a conversation, especially for those without highly developed American English skills. So you may not be as bad as I think. Time will tell, it always has. If you don’t believe me, take a look at some comment archives. Everybody who starts out like you eventually reveals themselves for who and what they are.
      So listen Klaus, I’m not concerned if you compare me to your Marxist/Maoist (as if those two terms really belong together, but let it go) students, what I’m concerned about is this: Do you think I am any better than a Palestinian or an “Arab”?

      • Taxi says:

        Klaus,
        You’re using “Marxist/Maoist” like an insult when both have more soul than zionism could ever dream of.

        Never mind that you lump Marxist and Maoist together – you’re clearly undereducated in the biographies of both Karl Marx and Mao Zedong.

        Why is it that self-appointed ‘teachers’, especially of the zionist variety, are some of the most ignorant people on the planet?

        (I bet the Moose knows the answer to this).

  22. All this stuff that Mooser and I have been arguing about is mostly irrelevant to this thread, be it Hitlerism, the school of Beinart’s children, Marxists and Maoists etc.

    • LeaNder says:

      You brought up the school of Beinhart’s children, Klaus. Which in turn made me curious about your problems in the Frankfurt “Evening School”.

      Some of my best friends are Abendschüler/Evening students/secondary chance students, by the way. The only friend I know who teaches at this type of school now, got into troubles with the education authorities when he didn’t take their job offer after he finished his second, the state examination with A++. He only wanted some time out for reflection and time to meet friends. The range of medical examinations they forced him to take, resulting in highly dubious expert reports in turn led to a long lawsuit. How could he dare to not take a job at a time when high percentages of teachers couldn’t get a job, there surely was something wrong with him, they seem to have concluded. The apparatus of state and the mentalities of it’s servants in full power.

      I sometimes like to chatter a little, thankfully the moderators let it pass. I try to shut up again. It’s not easy though. ;)

  23. “Tribalism Watch” From Goldblog:

    1) I can’t stop thinking about Miriam Monsonego, and Arye and Gabriel Sandler, the three small children executed by a Muslim radical for the crime of being Jewish. I think every Jewish parent is in shock at the horror, even though the pace of these sorts of attacks seems to be accelerating. Monsonego’s killing was especially horrifying; the murderer grabbed her by the hair, tried to shoot her in the head, but when his handgun failed, he pulled out another and successfully fired. The hatred this man felt for Jews is otherworldly, but it is born in this world. It is the outgrowth of an ideology of dehumanization that has spread across parts of the Muslim world.

    2) I can’t stop thinking about another case of child-murder, that of Trayvon Martin. For those of you who aren’t reading Ta-Nehisi on the subject, what are you waiting for?

    link to theatlantic.com

    But wait — wasn’t Trayvon killed because he was black? Then why not say so? Why not say that he was killed for “the crime of being black”? And why not walk us through the lurid details as per “he murderer grabbed her by the hair, tried to shoot her in the head, but when his handgun failed,…”

    Instead, Trayvon becomes an afterthought, a placeholder for “balance.” Some murders are more horrific than others, apparently. -N49.

    ps — I would have placed this in an open thread but we don’t have any.

    • i keep thinking of all those children slaughtered recently in afghanistan. it’s pretty horrific thinking about that running girl and the fear she must have endured while he went for the other gun. but what about all those children in afghanistan. did some run and get chased? they probably were not slaughtered at the same moment. with bullets in their brains close range and watching their siblings die first, some might have ran. i can’t stop thinking about them and the western press never even mentioned their names. no headlines or photos of the crowds gathered to morn them. why? why are some deaths mourned and condemned the world over, and others buried?