Dana on Beinart: ‘undeterred by unavoidable realities’

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Joseph Dana
Joseph Dana. (Just Vision)

Today for the United Arab Emirites’ The National, Joseph Dana takes on Peter Beinart’s milestone book, The Crisis of Zionism. In his review, Dana chastises the author for omitting the “unavoidable realities” of the occupation. Included, is Beinart’s  “undemocratic Israel” and “democratic Israel” model, where the actions of settlers are considered separate from the Tel Aviv café-scene and its surrounding suburban lifestyle. For Dana who lives in Ramallah, “this is not how the situation looks on the ground.”

Israel’s economy is deeply entrenched beyond the Green Line. Recently, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that Israeli companies could extract natural minerals from the rich land of the West Bank. The main water aquifers which supply thriving Tel Aviv and Haifa are found under the mountain top city settlement of Ariel. The captive economy of Palestine is a central and lucrative focal point for Israeli exports.


And when Beinart addresses ending Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories, Dana finds him failing to articulate a plausible solution. Beinart “borrows rhetoric and tactics of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in order to marginalise it.” Dana then further rebuffs Beinart for using BDS as a last stitch effort to make viable the two-state solution. As Dana shows, the era of negotiated land swaps is over not only because of the amount of settlements now in the West Bank, but because Zionism, as such, is predicated on conquest. “Rigorous critique of Zionism, not Israeli settlements, is the first step towards safeguarding Israel as a haven for Jews while preventing the country from sliding deeper into moral bankruptcy.”

Read Dana’s full review here, and an excerpt below:

Evidently not strong enough for him to emigrate from New York to Jerusalem, Beinart has a deeply emotional relationship with Zionism. His book is a personal chronicle of his development as a Zionist, which began, of all places, in South Africa. He presents raw reflections about his personal process of awareness of Israel’s immoral treatment of Palestinians, but is careful not to denounce them by always providing an Israel caveat.

Beinart’s arguments are not new or even particularly original, let alone based in reporting from Israel. His analysis draws on a variety of books and reports which don’t capture the entire dialogue taking shape in cafes in Tel Aviv, let alone Ramallah, but allow him to present a slightly new analysis of why the two-state solution has failed. Even those he holds responsible for Israel’s present ills – chief among them revisionist Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – are the traditional enemies of American Zionists who start to feel uncomfortable when racism towards Palestinians is clearly articulated, as opposed to quietly carried out.

At its core, The Crisis of Zionism is an ode to liberal Zionism – that confusing ideology which rallies behind the idea Israel can exist as a Jewish and Democratic state – a place where liberalism coexists with tribalism

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