Establishment Jews attack Beinart over settlement boycott call

ActivismIsrael/PalestineUS Politics
on 27 Comments

Last week the exit memo on the Times Op-ed page from former Goldman, Sachs employee Greg Smith roiled Wall Street. And yesterday, Peter Beinart’s op-ed in the NY Times calling for a boycott on Israeli settlements has been attacked roundly by the Jewish establishment, the sedan-chair-carriers of the Israel lobby. Some selections.

First, Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, jumped on to facebook in a hurry to establish red lines:

Peter Beinart’s call (“To Save Israel, Boycott the Settlements,” New York Times, 3.19.12) places him well beyond the Israeli mainstream, the moderate left, and the vast majority of Israelis who care about peace. The call for boycotting all products made by Israeli communities outside of Jerusalem and beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines is supported only by a marginal and highly radical fringe….

Jeremy Ben-Ami at J Street was also in an unseemly rush to distance himself from Beinart. This blogpost appeared within hours of the op-ed, even though Beinart is going to be the star of J Street’s policy conference next weekend in D.C. Notice how Ben Ami strokes rightwingers right from the start:

Peter Beinart’s op-ed in The New York Times this morning will undoubtedly raise more than blood pressure and eyebrows in the Jewish community.

It immediately raises pressure on J Street and other organizations over giving a platform to Peter after he has explicitly called for boycotts and other civil protests against Israeli settlements and settlers.

So let me say up front and with resounding clarity: J Street is thrilled to host a passionate Zionist like Peter Beinart at any time and any place – even as we disagree with some of the actions that Peter is calling for…

I don’t, however, agree with Peter that pressure on settlers and settlements through targeted boycotts and other measures will lead them to change course.

I think the ideologues driving the settlement enterprise – not necessarily the settlers themselves – will never change their views. Pressure will only reinforce their belief that the whole world is against them, causing them to dig in even more deeply.

By the way, Ben-Ami praises A.B. Yehoshua in that post. But Yehoshua said that American Jews are only “partial Jews” in Haaretz the other day. I guess because we don’t tote M16s and haven’t ethnically cleansed any villages lately. But Ben-Ami’s father was in the Irgun! Where does that leave me, A.B.? I know how to pour concrete!

More from Jeffrey Goldberg, atwitter. Good point:

BDS-lite inevitably leads to total boycott when partial-boycott fails to move settlers.

Ami Eden at JTA says that some Jews are going to boycott Beinart:

Next, we’ll hear from folks — many of them on the left — who say they don’t agree with Beinart’s call for a settlement boycott, but that the Jewish community should be respectful of free speech and embrace a big-tent philosophy.

But then they’ll be faced with a tricky question: If it’s kosher for Peter Beinart to call publicly for across-the-board boycotts against Jews in West Bank settlements, what is so unkosher about calling for a total boycott of Peter Beinart? Beinart says a settlement boycott is necessary to “oppose the forces that threaten [Israel] from within,” but activists on the right say the same sort of thing in defense of their efforts to get communal institutions to blackball Jews on the left.

Sol Stern at Commentary, a review of Beinart’s forthcoming book. The criticism would also apply to the Op-Ed:

What is wrong with Beinart’s book is contained within its title, The Crisis of Zionism. Zionism itself is not in crisis. The liberal Zionism Beinart espouses is, because Beinart and others like him have decided to condition their belief in a Jewish national homeland on its pursuit of policies that make them feel good. They prefer an Israel of social-democratic fantasy

P.S. Beinart is now calling his program “Zionist BDS.” And he responded by twitter to rightwing critics: “strange how few of my right-wing critics noticed part of my oped about doubling down on investment in democratic Israel, fighting full BDS.

Meantime, he and Goldberg are spatting. (Thanks Annie!) Goldberg boomed the J Street criticism of Beinart, “J Street big takes a serious shot at Beinart’s call…” And Beinart tweeted Goldberg:

Jeff, if you don’t want to write about my book, don’t. But don’t do this drive-by, evidence-less stuff.

Is Beinart a little peeved that Goldberg is ignoring his book? I believe Beinart is now going to eclipse Goldberg as leading American Jewish journalist. And Goldberg sees the writing on the wall.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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27 Responses

  1. Sonja
    March 20, 2012, 11:13 am

    What? Peter Beinart has not been called an anti-semite yet, and put on a blacklist? This is really a surprise!

    • Kathleen
      March 20, 2012, 12:07 pm

      give it time

    • Krauss
      March 20, 2012, 1:09 pm

      Phil, here’s one I think is very important.

      The reviewer is a staff editor at Foreign Affairs. That is THE foreign policy magazine in the States. It’s the essence of the establishment and the organization behind it is the Council on Foreign Relations(CFR), which is a bi-partisan apex of the Foreign policy establishment. And this guy is an editor at their magazine.

      And the review is a non-stop attack. He slams Beinart and all who think like him in the following manner:

      “That’s why those who embrace The Crisis of Zionism—especially the young, liberal elites for whom it is intended—risk dooming themselves to irrelevancy.”

      Source:
      http://www.jewishreviewofbooks.com/publications/detail/diaspora-divided

      It isn’t just the neocons at Commentary. Goldberg is a usual weatherwane. Even J Street went after him.

      It’s official: the 2SS is dead. Apartheid is the choice du jour – full stop!

      • Eva Smagacz
        March 20, 2012, 7:27 pm

        Jordan Hirsch is indeed an editor of Foreign Affairs.

        But I don’t believe that he is, on this occasion, channeling American establishment.

        His attack on Beinart is more tribal, because he is a Zionist Jew and he is part of Jewish establishment that Phil is writing about in the above piece.

  2. piotr
    March 20, 2012, 11:16 am

    Ben-Ami: “I don’t, however, agree with Peter that pressure on settlers and settlements through targeted boycotts and other measures will lead them to change course.”

    This is correct. I guess we have to copy sanctions imposed on Iran and apply to Israel. That would have a chance to “lead them to change course”. In the meantime, Ben-Ami advises that settler leaders will never change their views, so pressure has to applied to non-settlers. One can always hope that a period of symbolic actions like BDS movements may be sufficient if political mainstream adopts the idea and writings will appear on the wall.

    • anonymouscomments
      March 20, 2012, 1:20 pm

      Yes, and threaten them with war when sanctions dont work. If the zios think something is good for the mainly innocent goose (iran) it should very good for the guilty gander…. israel.

    • Erasmus
      March 20, 2012, 4:50 pm

      re piotr:
      “Ben-Ami: “I don’t, however, agree with Peter that pressure on settlers and settlements through targeted boycotts and other measures will lead them to change course.”

      This is correct. I guess we have to copy sanctions imposed on Iran and apply to Israel. That would have a chance to “lead them to change course”…..

      e g g s a cl y !!!
      (Sorry, i can not credit the author of this orthographic onomatopoetics; but it was a recent MW commentator :-))

      Addendum: While the Iran Sanctions have been decided and are carried out by State governments using their institutional strategic machineries , a full Israel BDS will have to be done by the global civil society.
      One economic sector which does qualify par excellence for Israel Boycott is : T O U R I S M
      If only the non-evangelical Christians of the World (the Evangelicals have to be discounted anyway, both as Christians “beyond repair”and as potential Israel boycotters) would postpone their Samsonite Pilgrimages to the Holy Land of Israel u n t i l Israel will have concluded and started to genuinely implement a full peace treaty with the Palestinians….. such a travel boycott would make a real difference.

      Instead, one can fly-in through Amman and use Palestinian Tour Operators, Hotels, Restaurants, Buses, Tour Guides, etc….to see biblical sites of importance, most of which – barring Nazareth and Lake Galilee – are anyway located in the Palestinian West Bank territories.

      Such alternative woul d be cheaper, more genuine and i suspect also spiritually more rewarding.
      It would be just the right thing to do.

  3. hophmi
    March 20, 2012, 11:21 am

    As I wrote, Peter’s op-ed is going to make it much more difficult for him to reach the Establishment audiences who can benefit from his message. I think Peter is trying to cause a rift between liberal Zionists and right-wing Zionists, which he has obviously grown to detest. I don’t think this is the right approach.

    “But Yehoshua said that American Jews are only “partial Jews” in Haaretz the other day. I guess because we don’t tote M16s and haven’t ethnically cleansed any villages lately.”

    Or because, as A.B. actually said, not enough American Jews make aliyah.

    • Krauss
      March 20, 2012, 1:17 pm

      By the way hophmi, I saw you responding to Ronn Torossians nutjob Op-Ed attack on Beinart in the comments’ section. For a while, you always seemed like a good-hearted liberal.

      And then I read the usual claptrap you come with. It’s the whole ‘white moderate’ dilemma King wrote about. The whole point is that the Establishment is wedded to the Occupation. Trying to appease them hasn’t worked.

      But you know that. Which is why it’s strange why you’re pushing for more unless you want the outcome that will happen – and I think you’re smart enough to understand that at some point, if not already, the settlements are permanent.

    • Woody Tanaka
      March 20, 2012, 1:50 pm

      “make aliyah”

      Are you really that twisted that you can’t say “immigrate” but have to use bigoted terminology?

    • Newclench
      March 20, 2012, 4:48 pm

      Beinart is claiming space for a more muscular version of J Street politics, more activist, grassrootsy and franky, honest than what J Street can deliver. Because Beinart doesn’t have to do the dirty politics of it…. which is great.
      The Zionist language turns me off, but I’d love to get into some direct action with him. Maybe that’s next?

  4. Bill in Maryland
    March 20, 2012, 11:21 am

    “[Liberal Zionists]…prefer an Israel of social-democratic fantasy” instead of the Israel of bare-knuckled brutality that we in fortress Israel have come to accept. Don’t be so dainty American Jews, fascism isn’t that bad if it enables a Jewish supremacist state!

  5. tombishop
    March 20, 2012, 11:22 am

    Zionists in the United States may think this way, but things look different to some Israelis:

    “When ‘pro-Israel’ means comparing Israel to the Nazis
    It’s time for American Jews to examine their Zionist organizations, and think about whether they really are pro-Israel or not.”
    by By Bradley Burston
    http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/a-special-place-in-hell/when-pro-israel-means-comparing-israel-to-the-nazis-1.419769

  6. seafoid
    March 20, 2012, 11:41 am

    “well beyond the Israeli mainstream, the moderate left, and the vast majority of Israelis who care about peace.
    The call for boycotting all products made by Israeli communities outside of Jerusalem and beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines is supported only by a marginal and highly radical fringe”

    Note the reference to 1949 armistice lines, Israelis who care about peace, marginal, radical , moderate left and vast majority

    Best of luck to Oren and the ziobots in herding the “vast majority” of their “peace loving” IDF-serving sheep back into their “moderate left” pro settler pen and away from the high radicalism of basic decency and sustainability.

  7. Kathleen
    March 20, 2012, 12:04 pm

    Sounds like Beinart trying to save Israel based on the internationally recognized border. Admitting the obvious

    Jeremy Ben Ami “Pressure will only reinforce their belief that the whole world is against them, causing them to dig in even more deeply.”
    That happens one way or the other.

    Sol Stern “They prefer an Israel of social-democratic fantasy” He admits that a social democracy is a fantasy

  8. Kathleen
    March 20, 2012, 12:06 pm

    Last night on Chris Matthews Hardball during a conversation about oil production and prices Congressman Markey closing comments was “Iran as they are rattling the markets? Blaming the saber rattling and oil prices rising on Iran and not Israel and the US’s persistent saber rattling.

    Big time kiss on Israel’s ass by Congressman Markey.

  9. Kathleen
    March 20, 2012, 12:12 pm

    Hope someone focuses on how the US MSM is dehumanizazing the people who were killed in that massacre in Afghanistan. And how our MSM has essentially been building the case for an insanity plea. Now I am all about attention being put on soldiers numerous deployments, stress they are under, families left behind, the reasons for these wars etc. Many of us have been making the case for them focusing on these critical issues starting 8 years ago. Some of us were making the case before the invasion. But now that is all the MSM is doing. As soon as they mention this massacre they flip the script never focus on those massacred and move to the alleged killer and essentially “make excuses”

    Noticing on all and I generally do not say ALL MSM outlets this week when they are talking about the massacre of 16 individuals 9 of them children in Afghanistan they are always focused on the soldier who allegedly committed the massacre. They start by saying “there are no excuses” for the massacre..and then they spend the next 5 minutes bringing attention to numerous deployments, his character before he was in the service, dissapointments in his life etc etc. They all seem to be helping this man build an insanity plea. NEVER EVER AND I MEAN NEVER EVER HAS ONE MSM HOST OR GUEST FOCUSED ON WHO THE PEOPLE AND THE CHILDREN ARE THAT THIS MAN ALLEGEDLY MASSACRED. NOT ONCE HAVE I HEARD A HOST OR GUEST FOCUS ON THE PEOPLE IN AFGHANISTAN WHO WERE KILLED. No pictures of the children massacred. Nothing TELLING. Not MSNBC’s Al Sharpton, not Ed Schultz, not Mika of Joe Scarborough, not Diane Rehm, not CNN, not Fox etc. NO one. Talk about dehumanization in our military….dehumanization in the US media. Focus on the children killed, the adults, no names. Total absence

    Anyone else who watches, listens, reads MSM outlets noticing this?

  10. NorthOfFortyNine
    March 20, 2012, 12:26 pm

    the sedan-chair-carriers of the Israel lobby

    made me smile! -N49

  11. Woody Tanaka
    March 20, 2012, 1:55 pm

    This reaction demonstrates nothing more than the fact that these so-called mainstream groups are so far in the bag that they are essentially useless for anyone who is interested in human rights for all and such things that we, as Americans first should be standing for.

    Remember it was Beinart who said that he’d be happy to put aside his liberal principles (and, in fact, demonstrating that he has no such principles) in order to secure an ethno-religious supremicist state for Jews, which necessarily means the suppression of the rights of the Palestinains. And he’s supposed to be the “good guy” among the American Jewish establishment.

  12. DICKERSON3870
    March 20, 2012, 2:11 pm

    RE: “…the Jewish establishment, the sedan-chair-carriers of the Israel lobby. ” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: OUCH! Good one, Phil. What beautiful imagery!

    RE: “The call for boycotting all products made by Israeli communities outside of Jerusalem and beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines is supported only by a marginal and highly radical fringe….” ~ Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren

    MY COMMENT: That just makes me all the more determined to continue to buy computers with AMD processors rather than Intel processors!

    SEE: Intel chip plant located on disputed Israeli land, by Henry Norr, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/08/02

    (excerpts) Just how diligent was Intel’s due diligence when it chose to build a multibillion-dollar chip plant in Qiryat Gat, Israel? . . .
    …Intel calls the plant Fab 18 (“fab” being chip-industry jargon for a facility where the silicon wafers that are eventually turned into working chips are fabricated). The fab, which went into production in 1999, was the fruit of a $1 billion investment by the Santa Clara company, supplemented by a $600 million grant from the Israeli government. . .
    …But from a legal and historical point of view, Qiryat Gat happens to be an unusual location: It was not taken over by the Israeli military in 1948. Instead, it was part of a small enclave, known as the Faluja pocket, that the Egyptian army and local Palestinian forces had managed to hold through the end of the war.
    The area was surrounded by Israeli forces, however. When Israel and Egypt signed an armistice agreement in February 1949, the latter agreed to withdraw its soldiers, but it insisted that the agreement explicitly guarantee the safety and property of the 3,100 or so Arab civilians in the area.
    Israel accepted that demand.
    In an exchange of letters that were filed with the United Nations and became an annex to the main armistice agreement, the two countries agreed that “those of the civilian population who may wish to remain in Al-Faluja and Iraq al Manshiya (the two villages within the enclave covered by the letters) are to be permitted to do so. . . . All of these civilians shall be fully secure in their persons, abodes, property and personal effects.” …
    . . . Within days, the security the agreement had promised residents of the Al- Faluja pocket proved an illusion. Within weeks, the entire local population had fled to refugee camps outside of Israel.
    Morris presents ample evidence that the people of the Al-Faluja area left in response to a campaign of intimidation conducted by the Israeli military. He quotes, among other sources, reports filed by Ralph Bunche, the distinguished black American educator and diplomat who was serving as chief U. N. mediator in the region.
    Bunche’s reports include complaints from U.N. observers on the scene that “Arab civilians . . . at Al-Faluja have been beaten and robbed by Israeli soldiers,” that there were attempted rapes and that the Israelis were “firing promiscuously” on the Arab population. . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/07/08/BU162036.DTL

  13. Nevada Ned
    March 20, 2012, 2:56 pm

    Boycotting West Bank settlements is a position that is supported by even Michael Walzer (editor of Dissent, former student of Irving Howe). And Walzer has supported all of Israel’s wars, by my count.

  14. Justice Please
    March 20, 2012, 3:06 pm

    “I guess because we don’t tote M16s and haven’t ethnically cleansed any villages lately.”

    I love you, Philip Weiss :-)

  15. seafoid
    March 20, 2012, 4:17 pm

    It’s early days yet but “Establishment Jews attack someone who shows Israel up for the car crash it is”, even partially, is very encouraging.
    The Ziobots used to count on omerta to keep dissent down.
    Maybe it’s in the air a week after Smith publicly dissed Goldman. Jewish power looking a little less smug as Spring unwinds.

  16. Mooser
    March 20, 2012, 5:29 pm

    What a great system! Zionism does the crimes, Judaism does the time.

  17. lareineblanche
    March 20, 2012, 7:21 pm

    But Yehoshua said that American Jews are only “partial Jews” in Haaretz the other day. I guess because we don’t tote M16s and haven’t ethnically cleansed any villages lately. But Ben-Ami’s father was in the Irgun! Where does that leave me, A.B.?

    It leaves you out in the cold, Phil, and that’s no fun – you know what they say about happiness, right? :

    http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.fr/2010/10/vile-kahanist-video-of-day.html

  18. piotr
    March 21, 2012, 3:18 am

    Ben-Ami is definitely a person of vision, a dreamer. In his dream, there will be consensus of major North American Jewish organizations. Isn’t there consensus already? Aha, somewhat different consensus, because the majority is not realizing that the current consensus is plied by the radical and powerful minority (who have bilionaire backers who shall remain unnamed because Though shall be nice with billionaires).

    The universe as described by Ben-Ami is rather smallish. North American Jewish organizations, some foggy expanse, then Israel and feebly visible “Green line” beyond which lies a totally mysterious territory, enticing to some but representing some unspecified dangers which as for now are not recognized by the “consensus” of North American Jewish Organizations. Some strange creatures are prowling under the name BDS. Israel is in the “jaws of a pincer (?!)” between the fools who cross the Green Line, and BDS monsters.

    What Ben Ami writes does not quite make sense. What are the dreads lurking behind Limes Virens? What are the powers of BDS monsters? And what one can do about any of these, assuming that we believe in the dreads and the monsters?

    Yes, there is a positive proposal! Here that: sages from the land of prophets allow to boycott the performing scene in Ariel. THAT willl make settler leaders change their ideology. (?!?!)

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