‘The Crisis of Zionism’ and the contradictions of Israel as a liberal democratic fantasy

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“Zionism as a liberal democratic project will die.” This will be the consequence, Peter Beinart warns in The Crisis of Zionism, of continued settlement building in the West Bank, encouraged by successive Israeli governments and most unapologetically so by the current one under Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership. Netanyahu and his Likudnik allies emerge as Mephistophelean villains in Beinart’s passionate arguments against the settlement enterprise, which he views as imperiling the continued viability of Theodor Herzl’s vision, brought into fruition by David Ben-Gurion, of Israel as a state of liberal ideals and equality. While Beinart styles himself “a partisan of liberal democracy” and skillfully argues against the continued colonization of the West Bank, proponents of universal human rights will inevitably be disappointed by his fundamental analytical failings.

One of the basic premises of the book is the desirability and necessity of a “Jewish state” that upholds liberal democratic values. At no point does Beinart dedicate uninterrupted space for an explicit definition of what “Jewish state” means to him, but he gives aspects of his conception here and there. By and large, it’s what one would expect. While the book is mercifully free of that odious term “demographic threat,” he invokes the specter of demographic change to remind readers that, should the green line’s rapid dissolution continue unabated, “Israel will commit suicide as a Jewish state” (demonstrating once again that many fail to grasp that apartheid is a qualitative, not quantitative, appellation). Beinart also links the Jewishness of the state with its symbols, which he concedes are elements of “the inequity in Zionism itself”:

As a Jewish state, Israel’s anthem, flag, and Jewish right of return would still afford Jewish Israelis a sense of national belonging and national refuge that Arab Israelis lack. This fundamental tension between Zionism and liberal democracy cannot be fully resolved within Israel’s borders. But it can, to some event, be resolved outside them. Were Israel to permit the creation of a Palestinian state that enabled a Palestinian right of return and expressed Palestinian identity in its anthem and flag, Arab Israelis, like diaspora Jews, would had a country that expressed their special character as a people, even if they chose not to live there. The struggle for a liberal democratic Zionism, therefore, cannot be merely a struggle to afford Arabs individual and even group rights inside a Jewish state. It must also be a struggle to satisfy the Palestinians’ yearning for a state of their own. (p. 17-18)

Beinart appears to be channeling the spirit of Tzipi Livni here. That he would take for granted that it is an acceptable “tension” for Palestinians to not feel at home in the land of their and their forefathers’ birth — and suggest that, according to a Zionist rubric, we should help Palestinians attain a state and not their rights — is not particularly surprising. But, it begs the question that Beinart does not offer a convincing answer to: How can Zionism, as manifested within the green line, be considered “a liberal democratic project?”

It seems that Beinart’s fantasy of an egalitarian Jewish state subsists on two key fetishes: Israel’s declaration of independence and the notion of citizenship. Beinart celebrates the declaration’s promise of “complete equality of social and political rights to all [of Israel's] inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.” In fact, he makes reference to the declaration and this particular sentence at least a dozen times in the book.  Yet this focus on the declaration of independence is belied by the fact, unmentioned by Beinart, that it has no legal standing. Israel’s Supreme Court has not considered the declaration a “constitutional law” that can determine the validity of ordinances and statements, as Ben White addresses in his excellent book, Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy.

The utility of his other idea, citizenship, in underscoring the Jewish state’s alleged liberal democratic credentials is also wanting. Beinart observes:

In democracies… governments sometimes subject citizens to intrusive, even degrading, forms of control… But as citizens, they are not powerless. They can take legal recourse… and thus remind their tormentors that they are equals in the eyes of the law. In so doing, they not only assert their own dignity, they force the people in power to acknowledge it too. In the West Bank, however, where Palestinians are barred from citizenship, that human leveling rarely occurs. (p. 24)

This observation is, on its face, correct. But even in “democracies,” such as the one inhabited by ‘48 Palestinians, citizenship does not automatically confer rights or dignity. One need look no further than the history of the United States, where African-Americans endured the travails of citizenship in a “democracy” without equal status before the law and unencumbered opportunities for civic participation for the better part of a century.

But all is not lost on Beinart. He recognizes that “Most [Arab Israelis] feel like second-class citizens, and in important respects, truly are.” He vigorously criticizes the racist, rightward drift of the current Israeli government and its policies on both sides of the green line. For presenting this criticism in unequivocal language to his target audience, Beinart deserves applause. But it is also this aspect which most dramatically denudes the moral and logical inconsistency necessary to maintain “liberal” Zionist illusions.

As previously mentioned, Netanyahu, Likud, and their fellow travelers are the primary antagonists in Beinart’s narrative. In chapter six, “The Monist Prime Minster,” Beinart traces the ideological lineage of these characters to Vladimir Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism, and his professed monism, the belief that Jews should form a majority on both sides of the Jordan river. In fingering proponents of Revisionism and their ideological inheritors as the dark side of Zionism, as opposed to the Labor variant espoused by the likes of Ben Gurion and Yitzhak Rabin, Beinart makes some breathtaking statements. He asserts that Jabotinsky believed that Palestine’s Arabs had to be “militarily and psychologically crushed.”

This required building up Jewish military might and using it without scruple — no matter what the moralists said — for as long as it took to make the enemy submit. Labor Zionists used force ruthlessly as well, but they were more troubled by it. (p. 104)

Excuse me? Labor Zionists were more troubled by it? Is there evidence of this? I have my suspicions that the exquisitely refined sensitivities and introspective anguish of Labor Zionists were somehow lost on the people of Lydd when a young Yitzhak Rabin oversaw their expulsion following a visit with David Ben-Gurion in July 1948.

Beinart’s false dichotomy between a presumably “liberal” Labor Zionism and a rapacious Revisionist counterpart extends to his reading of Israeli policies in the ensuing decades up to the present day, yielding ever more conspicuous bouts of cognitive dissonance. The most striking instance comes on page 112. While censuring Benjamin Netanyahu’s book A Durable Peace for its patent failure to show any sympathy for Palestinian suffering, Beinart offers this doozy (emphasis mine):

How does Netanyahu explain away the suffering of the roughly seven hundred thousand Palestinians who lost their homes during Israel’s war of independence? By claiming that their departure was overwhelmingly voluntary. Indeed, he insists that in many cases Jews pleaded with their Palestinian neighbors to stay. Given the more than two decades of scholarship–mostly by Israeli scholars using Israeli archives–documenting that many Palestinian refugees were either coerced or frightened into leaving, Netanyahu’s historical account is silly. But it is deadly serious, because if there was no moral problem with transfer in the past, there is no moral problem with transfer in the present. And top Netanyahu advisers have flirted with exactly that.

On the following page, Beinart recounts a 2007 boast by Netanyahu about one of the “positive” effects of the cuts he made to child welfare programs as Ariel Sharon’s finance minister being the drop in the non-Jewish birthrate; when labeled a racist by columnist Larry Derfner, Ron Demer, a man who would go on to become one of Netanyahu’s aides, said that Derfner was “mistaken in calling Bibi a bigot. He is only a Zionist.” Beinart:

Dermer’s meaning was clear: maintaining Israel’s Jewish majority, by whatever means necessary, is Zionist, and thus beyond reproach. Of course, there are–and always have been–Zionists who believe in a Jewish state with a Jewish majority but who are restrained in their pursuit of such goals by universal principles like nondiscrimination.

The two passages above are perhaps the purest expression of Beinart’s facepalm-inducing moral myopia in front of the most blindingly obvious conclusions to which he should be guided by his very own logic. Beinart acknowledges the Nakba in all but name (and, given his target audience, this is something he should be commended for) and in both passages, he condemns transfer; thus, one can infer that he thinks that the policies which led to the flight of 750,000 Palestinians from Mandatory Palestine are deplorable. Yet, while he makes a disapproving reference to Avigdor Lieberman’s suggestion that Arabs within Israel be transferred to a Palestinian state, no opprobrium for Israel’s original acts of transfer is to be found. These facts lead to the obvious question: How does Beinart reconcile his seemingly functional moral compass with his lionization of Ben-Gurion and his supposedly liberal democratic Zionist enterprise?

In the notes section, Beinart lists Benny Morris’s book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem as one of the sources for his statements about the expulsion of Palestinians. Speaking about the book in a 2004 interview, Morris, an apologist for ethnic cleansing, has this to say:

Are you saying that Ben-Gurion was personally responsible for a deliberate and systematic policy of mass expulsion?

From April 1948, Ben-Gurion is projecting a message of transfer… The entire leadership understands that this is the idea. The officer corps understand what is required of them. Under Ben-Gurion, a consensus of transfer is created.

Ben-Gurion was a “transferist”?

Of course. Ben-Gurion was a transferist.

With one of Beinart’s own sources unequivocally reporting Ben-Gurion’s involvement in ethnic cleansing, how can Beinart continue to cling to his hagiographic-cum-liberal democratic fantasy? How is it that he can say with a straight face that there are Zionists who believe in a Jewish state with a Jewish majority — among whose ranks he clearly belongs — yet are “restrained in their pursuit of such goals by universal principles like nondiscrimination?” Does Beinart suppose, contrary to his own statements about the coerced flight of Palestinians, that the Jewish majority he seeks to maintain was not manufactured through violence and war crimes? Again, how does he reconcile this with his reverence for the “miracle” of Israel’s birth? Does he suppose that, in peacetime, this Jewish majority can be maintained by means other than policy contrivances which he readily identifies as racist? Has it ever? The cognitive dissonance is truly staggering, and this is but a limited sample.

All of this reveals that, for Beinart and like-minded liberal Zionists, the conflicts that emerge from Zionism are not about its relation to universal human values as experienced by all those whose lives it touches, but rather about Jews’ relationships to their own past and to one another. Though Beinart himself repeatedly points out that American and Israeli Jews’ lack of acquaintance with Palestinians facilitates anti-Palestinian dogmatism, readers will not find a single Palestinian voice in Beinart’s book speaking about the “crisis” of the ideology that has led to the colonization of her lands and expulsion of her people in her own words. Palestinians merely serve as extras in a Jewish morality play. 

Peter Beinart seems to be a decent, earnest man, and has written an important book by virtue of the fact that will push the mainstream discourse in a more critical direction. But for those who see Palestinians occupying the center stage of their struggle, one can’t help but be reminded of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous statement: “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” Never have I felt these words as much as when reading this book. But I, for one, have hope that Beinart will continue to  move in the right direction.

About Austin Branion

Austin Branion is an activist and perennial student of Arabic living in the DC area. Follow him on Twitter at @austiniyaat.
Posted in American Jewish Community, Israel/Palestine, Israeli Government, Nakba, Occupation, One state/Two states, Settlers/Colonists | Tagged ,

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

  1. Kathleen says:

    Austin NPR’s Terri Gross has an interview up with Beinart today. Fresh Air radio program. Gross will more than likely use this interview to repeat her unsubstantiated neo con claims about Iran. She has done promoted aggression with Iran based on unsubstantiated claims for close to a decade

    • marc b. says:

      good call, kathleen. i heard (most of) the interview in the car on the way out of the city. yes, gross repeated the breathless canard about iran being on the verge of going nuclear. or nucular. what a painful interview. i stopped counting how many times beinart expressed his fervant desire for israel to remain ‘a jewish and democratic’ state, his primary concern being the public relations hit israel is taking on account of west bank settlers. not to worry though, gross brought on someone for balance in the last part of the segment. him, whose name escapes me, was particularly vexed over the lack of criticism of the palestinians’ role in the failure of the peace talks.

      • American says:

        If Beinart can bring attention to the settlements, good for and credit to him.
        But all zionist are intellectually and morally handicapped by their belief in ”exceptionalism” for Jews and Jewish victimhood and therefore for Israel.
        Those like Beinart are making stabs at trying to preserve that Israel exceptionalism by ‘taming’ Israel somewhat.
        There is a good reason for the medcial practice of surgeons not operating on their own family members, they are too attached to be objective…that’s the problem of zionist operating on Israel.

        • Kathleen says:

          “But all zionist are intellectually and morally handicapped by their belief in ”exceptionalism” for Jews and Jewish victimhood and therefore for Israel.
          Those like Beinart are making stabs at trying to preserve that Israel exceptionalism by ‘taming’ Israel somewhat”

          Agree.

          He is trying to save Israel based on the internationally recognized borders. And knows the two state solution is really fading. But saying that IIsrael was formed based on “democratic ideals” is a myth.

          Whoa Terri Gross did not turn the conversation to promote an attack on Iran. Surprised. Good sign

        • Beinart talks at length about victimhood, how the American Jewish establishment has used it to shaped Jewish identity, and its terrible consequences. He really does a good job of talking about that issue, but it was one I didn’t have room to talk about in my review, which is really limited to just one aspect of the book. While it has its problems, some of them very serious and frustrating, I still say its worth a read.

        • Pixel says:

          “There is a good reason for the medcial practice of surgeons not operating on their own family members, they are too attached to be objective…that’s the problem of zionist operating on Israel.”

          Great analogy.

        • jonrich111 says:

          “There is a good reason for the medcial practice of surgeons not operating on their own family members, they are too attached to be objective…that’s the problem of zionist operating on Israel.”

          Removing the persecuted group from their own national liberation struggle makes little sense to me. That is like removing black people from Black Nationalism. Would you say that only non-Americans should be allowed to fix America’s social problems because Americans are too biased? Such reasoning makes no sense.

          Like it or not, Israel is of central importance to Jewish identity and always has been. Even before the creation of the State of Israel, Jews attached great symbolic, cultural, historical, and religious significance to Israel. The fact that Jews attach special significance to Israel is not the problem. The problem is that Zionists believe that our attachment to Israel is of more importance than any other groups. Zionists must learn that Jewish support for Israel does not have to come at the expense of others’ attachment to Israel. Rather, we can have all people sharing the land equally, with each group attached to it in their own ways.

        • Philip Weiss says:

          and catholics have strong religious feelings about when life begins; and i have particiapted in a movement to allow them to have their beliefs but keep them off the policymaking machinery. abraham bought nablus for a sum of money, it is stated in the bible. keep it in the church

        • jonrich111 says:

          Jews are an ethnic group, not primarily a religion like Catholicism. Notions of Israel and diaspora are deeply entrenched in Jewish identity and cannot be separated to “the church.” Zionism wasn’t created out of a religious belief but rather a secular desire by diasporic Jews to be free from persecution.

          The fact that Israel’s existence depends entirely on the support of superpowers shows that it is not Jews who are in control of the “policymaking machinery.” Christian Zionism is a big part of the equation. And the fact that Israel even needs to depend on support of superpowers is a condition of Jewish oppression applied on a national stage. Jews are put in a “middle” position as buffers between the haves and have-nots and therefore are dependent upon the power-holders for survival. The same thing happened in Europe during the Middle-Ages when Jews functioned as tax collectors and money lenders.

      • Kathleen says:

        Listening now.

        Beinatts promoting that Israel was created with a Democratic stance. He is promoting a myth. Israel was created by running hundreds of thousands of Palestinians off of their lands. He begins the interview that Israel was created based on humanitarian principles and then later states his honest views which is a state for Jews. Now I don’t think he wrong for trying to save Israel based on the original borders drawn out by the UN but trying to hide his real interest behind alleged compassionate feelings is so hypocritical. He is trying to pretend that Israel is just becoming an apartheid state. And avoiding that this has been the situation on the ground for decades.

        Both he and Terri are pretending that power is new to Jewixh individuals and Jewish groups.

        Terri “Iran is a holocaust denier” Did the Iranian President actually say that the Holocaust did not happen? But has questioned numbers killed. And I do know that the Iranian President has said horrible things about Israel and that Israeli leaders and lobbyist for Israel have endlessly repeated unsubstantiated claims about Iran

        • Pixel says:

          December 11, 2006, Tehran: 2-day “International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust”

          “Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the conference sought “neither to deny nor prove the Holocaust… [but] to provide an appropriate scientific atmosphere for scholars to offer their opinions in freedom about a historical issue.”(Wikipedia)

          No doubt it was convened to royally piss Israel off but I strongly agree with their stated premise.

          There’s no topic that should be off-limits to intellectual inquiry, let alone illegal, as is “The” Holocaust in numerous European countries.

        • Kathleen wrote:
          “And I do know that the Iranian President has said horrible things about Israel . . .”

          1. quotes and sources, please.
          2. were the “horrible things” the Iranian president said about Israel true or false?
          ______________
          just to prime the “horrible things” pump :

          Ahmadinejad: “ Last year — I would say two years ago — I raised two questions. You know that my main job is a university instructor.

          AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Right now, as president of Iran, I still continue teaching graduate and Ph.D.-level courses on a weekly basis. My students are working with me in scientific fields. I believe that I am an academic, myself. So I speak with you from an academic point of view, and I raised two questions.

          But, instead of a response, I got a wave of insults and allegations against me. And regretfully, they came mostly from groups who claimed most to believe in the freedom of speech and the freedom of information. You know quite well that Palestine is an old wound, as old as 60 years. For 60 years, these people are displaced.

          For 60 years, these people are being killed. For 60 years, on a daily basis, there’s conflict and terror. For 60 years, innocent women and children are destroyed and killed by helicopters and airplanes that break the house over their heads. For 60 years, children and kindergartens, in schools, in high schools, are in prison being tortured. For 60 years, security in the Middle East has been endangered. For 60 years, the slogan of expansionism from the Nile to the Euphrates is being chanted by certain groups in that part of the world.

          And as an academic, I asked two questions; the same two questions that I will ask here again. And you judge, for yourselves, whether the response to these questions should be the insults, the allegations, and all the words and the negative propaganda or should we really try and face these two questions and respond to them?

          AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Like you, like any academic, I, too, will keep — not yet become silent until I get the answer. So I’m awaiting logical answers instead of insults.

          My first question was if — given that the Holocaust is a present reality of our time, a history that occurred, why is there not sufficient research that can approach the topic from different perspectives?

          Our friend referred to 1930 as the point of departure for this development. However, I believe the Holocaust from what we’ve read happened during World War II, after 1930, in the 1940s. So, you know, we have to really be able to trace the event.

          My question was simple: There are researchers who want to approach the topic from a different perspective. Why are they put into prison? Right now, there are a number of European academics who have been sent to prison because they attempted to write about the Holocaust or research it from a different perspective, questioning certain aspects of it.

          My question is: Why isn’t it open to all forms of research?

          I have been told that there’s been enough research on the topic. And I ask, well, when it comes to topics such as freedom, topics such as democracy, concepts and norms such as God, religion, physics even, or chemistry, there’s been a lot of research, but we still continue more research on those topics. We encourage it.

          But, then, why don’t we encourage more research on a historical event that has become the root, the cause of many heavy catastrophes in the region in this time and age?

          AHMADINEJAD: Why shouldn’t there be more research about the root causes? That was my first question.

          And my second question, well, given this historical event, if it is a reality, we need to still question whether the Palestinian people should be paying for it or not. After all, it happened in Europe. The Palestinian people had no role to play in it. So why is it that the Palestinian people are paying the price of an event they had nothing to do with?

          The Palestinian people didn’t commit any crime. They had no role to play in World War II. They were living with the Jewish communities and the Christian communities in peace at the time. They didn’t have any problems.

          And today, too, Jews, Christians and Muslims live in brotherhood all over the world in many parts of the world. They don’t have any serious problems.

          But why is it that the Palestinians should pay a price, innocent Palestinians, for 5 million people to remain displaced or refugees abroad for 60 years. Is this not a crime? Is asking about these crimes a crime by itself?

          Why should an academic myself face insults when asking questions like this? Is this what you call freedom and upholding the freedom of thought? “

    • eGuard says:

      Here it is, 28 mins.

      For starters, Beinart is turning his family history into a having to relocate story (that is not exactly “being uprooted and having to flee”, Gross) without scrutiny, cheaply even. So his mothers family is Sephardic (did I hear a tear in his voice for not being Ashkenazi? Trying to connect with Eastern Europe?). Rhodes is mentioned (his great-grandparents must have left Rhodes some forty to sixty years before WWII but hey, there it is!), and Alexandria. His grandmother, born in Alexandria, left Egypt (still no mentioning of force), and went to Congo and left for undisclosed reasons. I mean, a white family having to move from inland Belgian Congo because of religious reasons is laughable, and abusing Congo’s history. That grandmother then moved to Cape Town, SA, and again left, given the sense of turbulence in SA. What a way to put it. Beinart, you really think that had to do with Jewishness? And still you base your Zionism on that?

      Your next book could be about Apartheid. Then tell us what you learned from your grandmother, and what you know yourself.

  2. skhan says:

    This is an excellent excellent piece. Bravo.

  3. Krauss says:

    Great, great post, Austin!

    I’ve noticed the selective amnesia among many so-called ‘liberal’ Zionists. Beinart goes to much further lengts than many to be intellectually honest and he deserves credit for that but the fact remains:

    It was Labor, not Likud, which expanded the settlements the most during the 90s. This is why Oslo will always be seen from afar as a bastard child of Israeli expansionism and settlement construction by independent observers. Whether that was the intention or not is really a moot issue. What matters is, as they say, ‘the facts on the ground’.

    Beinart himself lashes out against the Jewish establishment but he was editor of TNR, the über-establishment magazine, in the 90s and saw it all happening. What did he do? Nothing. He had a career to tend. Same with Iraq. But there he even pushed for it. And even as late as 2006 he released one of the most bizarre neocon warmongering books I’ve seen, but with a liberal gloss.

    There is usually a charge by his right-wing critics of vanity and political opportunism, now that criticism of Israel may still be dangerous but isn’t instant career-death as it used to(which is probably part of the reason why he waited as long as he did), the charge of opportunism does carry some weight. And where was Beinart when settlements increased the most?

    In many respects he is years, or even decades, too late. But he had a career to tend. And now the settlement projects is so ingrained into Israel so it won’t untangle itself. And now, after all these years, he comes out when the ground has already been plowed before him.

    But he still refuses to talk about Labor’s role in the 90s, because that ruins his whole ‘Bibi did it’ narrative. And that’s precisely the problem with his polemic. It massages the egos of liberal Zionists but it’s totally divorced from the truth. And the truth hurts. Because it’s been their dear ‘progressive’ parties in Israel which expanded the settlements the most.

    Also, Likud has historically been less warmongering than it’s more leftist political opponents, as strange as it may seem. Netanyahu has kept that tradition. But that’s also something Beinart won’t dabble in because it shows Israel in it’s full view, and then it’s much harder to blame a single party or a movement instead of seeing the broad de-facto concensus that exists in Israel today.

    • You hit the nail on the head with your criticism of Labor, which is equally if not more responsible for the most egregiously unjust Israeli policies.

      • seafoid says:

        Likud wasn’t around in 1948. Mapai which became Labor was.
        Jewish democracy was only ever possible thanks to ethnic cleansing and the destruction of a nation.

        link to guardian.co.uk

        “Another historian, Sami Abu Shehadeh, is doing his doctoral thesis on Jaffa as the major Arab cultural and economic centre during the mandate period. It had its own Arabic press, eight cinemas, five hospitals and about 120,000 people. After the 1948 war, 3,900 were left.

        It is standard practice for historians at Tel Aviv University to explain the time frame of their research and why it ends when it does. Shehadeh stopped his in 1948 because that was when Jaffa stopped existing as a city. “My adviser told me: ‘Sami, we might agree or disagree on the word expelled, but I don’t know who will sit on your committee [to adjudicate the thesis] if you insist on using it.’” A compromise was negotiated – rare in this part of the world. Shehadeh wrote that, as a result of the war, the Arabs of Jaffa “had to leave and were not allowed back”.

        “Forget politics, on the basic historical facts we fight on everything,” he says. “I dont even know where to start a normal discussion. We live totally separate lives. Outsiders don’t see it. In Israel there are different spaces for Jews and Arabs. The problem is the vast majority of elites, and not just political but economic and intellectual ones, define themselves as being part of a Jewish democracy and concentrate all their thinking on the rights of the Jews. Non-Jews, be they Christian or Muslim, are excluded from any serious decision-making process in their lives.”

        That goes for the Israeli left as well as right. As a member of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipal council, Shehadeh tried to persuade Yaël Dayan, the leftwing head of the coalition in charge of the council, to divide Tel Aviv-Jaffa into quarters, like any other big city. Maybe it is better for the Arabs of Jaffa if we keep on running things for them, he was told.

        “The only thing the world knows about Jaffa is oranges,” says Shehadeh. “I am not an orange. [Benjamin] Netanyahu, when he was finance minister, called people like me a demographic timebomb. How can I explain to my children that they are a bomb?”

        The discrimination suffered by his community is extensively documented. Half live below the poverty line, 48% can not build a house for the next 15 years because there no permits or plans. Only 19% of Arab women with Israeli citizenship are in a job, compared with 65% of Jewish women.

        But the terrain of their changing identity and allegiance is not so well mapped. Israel demands expressions of loyalty from them. Loyalty to what, they ask. A democracy or a supremacist state?”

        • seafoid, here is an excellent video of sami link to mondoweiss.net

        • Walid says:

          Sami Abu Shehadeh’s heartbreaking story in 2009 about the dispossession of the Palestinians of Jaffa:

          link to electronicintifada.net

          It makes one wonder that the Palestinians in the 1930s knew what the Zionists were up to with their planned massive immigration projects and why they (the Palestinians)opposed them so much. Today, Jews and non-Jews are discovering for themselves that Zionism in the Middle East was a cancer.

        • Hostage says:

          It makes one wonder that the Palestinians in the 1930s knew what the Zionists were up to with their planned massive immigration projects and why they (the Palestinians)opposed them so much.

          The draft charter that Herzl hoped to obtain from the Sultan for a Jewish-Ottoman Land Company (JOLC) granted it complete autonomy and reserved the right of the Zionists to purchase any land they desired and transfer the populations of enclaves living in Palestine and Syria to other parts of the Ottoman Empire. The amount of compensation would have been determined by the JOLC.

          It’s doubtful that after several visits with the Ottoman officials of the Sublime Porte, that Herzl’s aims were kept secret from the Palestinian notables:

          His Majesty the Sultan grants and guarantees the JOLC the following special rights and privileges for the purpose of settling Palestine and Syria with Jews who assume Ottoman citizenship . . .

          I. A special right to purchase large estates and small farms (Jifliks of whatever kind), and to use them for agriculture, horticulture, forestry, and mining (the latter without having to purchase the entire surface of the ground to be used). On these areas [the JOLC] may build all installations, roads, bridges, buildings and houses, industrial and other facilities, which it considers appropriate, without being restricted in the choice of means to be used, and without having to apply for special permits. . . .

          II. The limited proprietorship of all estates and landed properties belonging to His Majesty the Sultan in the above mentioned “Privileged Territories.” [The JOLC shall express its] eternal recognition of his supreme proprietorship through a permanent annual payment of 3 Turkish Piasters per dunum. This refers to the areas which [the company] has the right to utilize according to article I of this agreement. Likewise, a special right to occupy all those areas for which nobody can prove legal title or the right of ownership. This occupation has to be carried out in the name of His Majesty the Sultan, and the occupied areas have to be treated like the estates mentioned in the first paragraph of this item with regard to the supreme proprietorship, the annual payment, and the utilization.

          III. The right to exchange economic enclaves of its territory, with the exception of the holy places or places already designated for worship. The owners shall receive plots of equal size and quality procured by it [the JOLC] in other provinces and territories of the Ottoman Empire.

          The text of the Charter appeared in Appendix I of Adolf Böhm’s Die Zionistische Bewegung vol I, pp. 704-9 and was published as a annex to a Journal of Palestine Studies article by Walid Khalidi, The Jewish-Ottoman Land Company: Herzl’s Blueprint for the Colonization of Palestine,
          Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 22, No. 2 (Winter, 1993), pp. 30-47, link to jstor.org

        • Walid says:

          “It’s doubtful that after several visits with the Ottoman officials of the Sublime Porte, that Herzl’s aims were kept secret from the Palestinian notables”.

          It wasn’t so much those early Herzl-Sultan under the table and over the table deals that spooked the Arabs as much as the universal call to “repatriate” all the Jews of the world to Palestine and the Palestinians and other Arabs erroneously imagined that there were zillions of them that would eventually drown out the Arab presence in Palestine and neighbouring areas. Before the Sultan became history in 1918, the Jews had bought only 20 or 25% of the total land they held at partition. The other 80% was acquired between 1924 and 1948 through purchases mostly by individuals and companies (and not the JNF).

          “… Without the existence of a substantial territorial base, neither the League of Nations nor the Peel Commissioners would have considered the option of a Jewish or Arab state in 1937. A geographic nucleus for a Jewish state had emerged by 1937 because relatively few Jews were willing to commit time, energy, and money to the process of Jewish nation-building. After the middle of the 1930s the JNF played a significant organizational role in consolidating the individual efforts of earlier immigrants. Examining the process, methods and priorities of land acquisition allows one to understand how and why a Jewish state came into existence in May 1948.

          By May 1948 Jews acquired approximately two million of Palestine’s 26 million dunams. In terms of Palestine’s total land area under the Mandate, this was a small percentage. But these two million purchased dunams were among the most cultivable. They were neither in the hill regions of the West Bank/Judea-Samaria regions nor south of Beersheba. Jewish land acquisition focused on the valley and coastal regions of Palestine from 1920 through 1936. Before and after these years land was purchased also in the Galilee and later in the southern portions of Palestine, between Beersheba and Gaza. At the end of the Mandate Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip (320,000 dunams) and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan annexed the West Bank/Judea-Samaria (6 million dunams).

          Until 1939, more than two-thirds of the land acquired by Jews was purchased by private individuals and companies, not institutions of the Jewish Agency or yishuv. This was accomplished by private purchases, land transfers not recorded in the sub-district land registry offices, from official registered transfers by Arab sellers and concessionary agreements with the British. The data in Table 1 show that the JNF was only a minority purchaser of all Jewish-acquired land by the time of the Peel Report’s partition recommendation. It is noteworthy that the suggestion to establish a Jewish state was made because land was purchased by individual investors, entrepreneurs, settlers, pioneers and private companies, and not by the JNF. ”

          link to ismi.emory.edu

        • seafoid says:

          Zionism was and is a living nightmare for the people of Palestine.
          Nobody in 1932 could have predicted what they would do to Gaza.

    • Charon says:

      When you look at the facts, that is certainly the truth. Israel has been in a nearly constant state of warfare since before its inception. The major conflicts all came while Labor and it’s predecessor Mapai were in charge.

      Bibi is a pathological liar, a radical right-winger who notoriously admitting to interpreting the Oslo Accords in a way which halted them. Probably a psychopath too. He also isn’t exactly helping the international public opinion view Israel in a favorable manner. But from a warfare stand point, Bibi has been relatively ‘harmless’ compared to his predecessors. I say relatively because disproportionate brutal force has been used to counter rockets. And there was the Flotilla event, among others. But Cast Lead was when Kadima was in power. Ariel Sharon destroyed an entire Palestinian refugee camp as a defense minister, and he also ignited the second intifada. But even though it was a likely ploy, he did disengage Gaza and some illegal WB settlements. The Lebanon thing came after he had his stroke.

      Speaking of settlements and also Lebanon, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir were both former terrorist leaders associated with revisionist Zionism and Likud (which itself is a political successor to those terrorist groups). It is from them that the only real warfare associated with Likud ever occurred, the terrible and unnecessary conflict/occupation of south Lebanon. The settlements accelerated under them too, but it was as you mentioned post-Oslo under Labor where they rapidly accelerated. So on paper, Likud is the former terrorist big-talking tough guys. And Labor is considered liberal yet most of the problems with I/P are Labor’s fault. I think the extremists in Israel are like Africanized bees. Remove the leadership, let them be frenzied for a little bit, then replace them with ‘normal’ ones and everything will be fine.

      • seafoid says:

        They all lie. Barak was supposed to be a mould breaker back in 1999 and he’s as mendacious as any right wing Zionist.
        The whole ideology is built on lies and manufactured history that doesn’t stand up to even the most rudimentary academic treatment. That’s why it’s so fragile.

        • Charon says:

          Yep, Barak is just as bad as the rest. I didn’t know much about I/P back then, so I find it very strange to hear that even many Palestinians and their leaders partially trusted the guy at first. His ‘generous offer’ is the closest any Israeli leader has ever come to a compromise, but it was anything but generous.

          Another thing that I find strange is that after the Oslo Accords we not only see heavy settlement building activity, but also heavy terrorist activity for given reasons that had nothing to do with Oslo (Cave of the Patriarchs murders by settlers, the 90s suicide bombings, etc.). And Rabin was assassinated, but that was allegedly because of Oslo. They wanted to make sure there was no peace. In an alternative universe where there was no Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, no suicide bombing, and Rabin lives, I just wonder if that would have made a difference. Public opinion certainly thought these things killed any attempt to peace.

          The manufactured history, the lies, and the horrifying facts that led to this whole mess are still relevant because the mess is still a mess. If Oslo played out as it was supposed to and in 1998 a peace treaty was made between Palestine and Israel with international borders based upon the pre-1967 green line, I wonder what kind of world we would live in today? Maybe it wouldn’t be a mess.

  4. thanks austin, great post.

    i have not read the book but my presumption is beinart thinks the creation of a palestinian state will get israel off the hook for past intransigence or somehow solve all the ‘demographic threat’ problems, which it won’t. if there were another state, and i doubt at this point that will ever happen, it is almost guaranteed there will be those advocating transfere of palestinians inside of israel to this new state although i understand he’s not advocating that, which your last link demonstrates.

    re, readers will not find a single Palestinian voice in Beinart’s book speaking about the “crisis” of the ideology that has led to the colonization of her lands and expulsion of her people in her own words.

    something tells me beinart has grokked this criticism. in a recent video interview, shalom tv as i recall, he repeatedly queried the host if he had interviewed or asked any palestinians their views. one would have thought it would have occurred to him while writing his own book. if he writes another perhaps he will take his own advice into consideration.

    • Krauss says:

      Great point, Annie.

      Even in the event of a creation Palestinian state, the Israeli political climate wouldn’t be much changed. This has brewed for decades. Ethnic cleansing would be demanded as a “just compromise” and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see numerous “liberal” Zionists backing it as a fair deal.

      • Charon says:

        Krauss, I wouldn’t be surprised either. I would expect it. That’s probably why Bibi keeps demanding that Israel be recognized as the Jewish state. Although they’ve claimed this is not to be interpreted as ethnic cleansing from Israel proper, Bibi is a trickster. I wouldn’t be surprised if they re-defined Israel’s borders to exclude majority Arab areas. Wouldn’t be easy to do, but I can see that happening. The remaining Arabs would probably be treated like the EJ Arabs who’ve had their citizenship revoked.

        IMO, A Palestinian state based on modern collective Zionist expectation would lead to an indefinite status quo. They would secretly be moving those borders just as they have been doing since 1948, come up with an excuse to militarily cut them off or even occupy them again. That way they could continue the land grab is ‘peace times’ while maintaining a Jewish demographic in “Israel”

    • what does “grokked” mean?

      • eljay says:

        >> what does “grokked” mean?

        To grok:
        >> … is to intimately and completely share the same reality or line of thinking with another physical or conceptual entity. Author Robert A. Heinlein coined the term in his best-selling 1961 book Stranger in a Strange Land. In Heinlein’s view, grokking is the intermingling of intelligence that necessarily affects both the observer and the observed. From the novel:

        Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science—and it means as little to us (because of our Earthling assumptions) as color means to a blind man.

  5. seafoid says:

    Zionism as a liberal democratic project is already dead.

    Is this senior Ziobot a democrat ?
    link to aljazeera.com

    Is the war criminal under discussion here a liberal ?
    link to youtube.com

  6. Austin — you hit it out of the park. Thanks mucho! I was planning to write a similar riposte, and I am grateful that now I don’t have to do so. Although, I have other parallel criticisms of Beinart’s book to offer, maybe I’ll chime in with those soon.

    • Thanks! I struggled to keep this piece to a reasonable length; there’s so much that can be said about Beinart’s book, but I decided to keep my review focused on the issues that I’m most knowledgeable about (as anyone putting their opinions out in public should!). I also really take issue with the way he talks about Palestinian refugees, which I didn’t address here.

      I think the book needs a series of reviews, not just one. I actually learned quite a bit from it about the history of the American Jewish establishment and Obama’s relationship with Jews. I also think he had some interesting insights into the Obama administration’s embarrassing conflicts with Netanyahu’s government. Still, for the reasons I describe in this piece, it was one of the most frustrating things I’ve read in a long time. I’d love to read what you have to say!

      • LeaNder says:

        Austin, that’s sounds interesting too. I am definitively not going to read the book. Thus I would definitively appreciate another piece.

        I also really take issue with the way he talks about Palestinian refugees

        That’s the topic I would find really interesting.

        If you haven’t watched the interview Annie mentions above on Shalom TV by Rabbi Golub with Peter Beinart, please do so. Watching that was very, very painful for me. I had to stop and resume the next day. It’s embedded in Phil’s American spirit. What an intellectual burden the believe must be that the Jewish community collectively is good, while all the evil is always only lying in wait out there.

        Aren’t these two subjects somehow related, I wonder.

    • LeaNder says:

      Matthew, I wouldn’t mind a hole series of reviews. I am not yet convinced I have to read the book. Although I appreciate the debate, and people’s special perspective on it.

  7. American says:

    Beinart is why I say you can’t talk to zionist period.

    It’s the pilpul thing. All zionist start with “”Truths that Can’t Disputed”"”. A Zionist state was ‘necessary”. It’s rightful place was Palestine. And some or all replacing of Palestines with Jews , the some or all depending on if they are liberal zio or not liberal zios, was necessary.
    We’ve all seen this and seen this and seen this. They make up their own truths. And all debate and conversation goes round and round and always back to their pilpul preordained truths. Try to argue the immorality of the theft of Palestine and they will argue the ‘greater moral good’ of necessity of a Jewish state, their pilpul truth.

    link to huffingtonpost.com

    What Is Pilpul, And Why On Earth Should I Care About It?

    What this means for contemporary Jewish discourse is critical: Even though many contemporary Jews are not observant, pilpul continues to be deployed.
    Pilpul occurs any time the speaker is committed to “prove” his point regardless of the evidence in front of him. The casuistic aspect of this hair-splitting leads to a labyrinthine form of argument where the speaker blows enough rhetorical smoke to make his interlocutor submit. Reason is not an issue when pilpul takes over: what counts is the establishment of a fixed, immutable point that can never truly be disputed.
    What is thought to be the Jewish “genius” is often a mark of how pilpul is deployed. The rhetorical tricks of pilpul make true rational discussion impossible; any “discussion” is about trying to “prove” a point that has already been established. There is little use trying to argue in this context, because any points being made will be twisted and turned to validate the already-fixed position.
    Pilpul is the rhetorical means to mark as “true” that which cannot ever be disputed by rational means.”

    • Charon says:

      I didn’t know that it had a name, American. Good link.

      Such persuasive tricks might not fool people here, but unfortunately they do work on the collective masses to a degree. As long as it is believable. Hasbara trolls are experts in the art. Psychopaths employ this as well. I have always said not to mistake psychopathy for genius (since psychopaths are lacking in cerebrum activity, especially in the frontal lobes).

      Here is a quote from an actual genius on Palestine (hint, his first name is Albert):

      “I should much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish state. …the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish state with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power….I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain – especially from the development of a narrow nationalism within our own ranks…

    • seafoid says:

      “The casuistic aspect of this hair-splitting leads to a labyrinthine form of argument where the speaker blows enough rhetorical smoke to make his interlocutor submit”.

      The internet has destroyed this .
      Philly Hasbara or Hillel or whoever could send the top rhetorician of his or her generation on here and they’d be wiped out in 5 minutes.
      Danon tried it on al jazeera and he came off it looking like the small minded bigot he is.

      • Charon says:

        Agreed, seafoid. Today I went to best buy on my lunch break and saw a guy (maybe in his 20s) buy the extended warranty for a $50 router. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people easily persuaded out there and they would submit. At least it no longer works on the internet for the most part.

        The Hasbara folks never submit though. They either exit the discussion in disgust (with a final message calling everybody a racist, anti-semite, Islamist, etc.) which is just their version of submitting. Or they annoyingly continue to ensure they have the last word in. Even when they’ve been outed and nobody cares. At least that’s been my experience

        • FreddyV says:

          Pilpul: Suddenly it all becomes clear. I’ve been banging on using big words to try to reason out what Zios do such as ‘conflate’, ‘obfuscate’ etc, without actually realising that I’m actually completely playing into their hands. The pilpul approach has filtered it’s way into the Christian Zionist arena too.

          Finklestein does have one thing right here. Stick to the facts. Don’t engage in negotiations or invite opportunity for justification. Kicking people off their land is not right. Oppression is not right. Discrimination is not right.

          Thanks

        • Shmuel says:

          Zionists (Jewish or otherwise) don’t have a monopoly on casuistry or sophistry. Ever try discussing “intelligent design” with a creationist?

        • FreddyV says:

          Casuistry and sophistry.

          More big words! I love ‘em! Thanks!

          Yes, I know the creationist arguments very well and despite being a Christian who does believe in a creator, I find the creationist arguments rather pointless when the whole idea of the Christian religion is faith which to my mind is the antithesis of proof. God created the world in seven days? OK, cool. I don’t see the point of trying to prove or disprove it. You’re right Shmuel, Christians do love to shoehorn a modern western reasoning to an ancient middle eastern text and the only way that can be achieved is by employing methods as you described.

        • Hostage says:

          Ever try discussing “intelligent design” with a creationist?

          No kidding. Arno Penzias won a Nobel prize for his work in discovering the residual background radiation from the Big Bang. He was also a Vice President and Chief Scientist at Bell Laboratories. He found nothing in his discovery that was inconsistent with the teachings of Maimonides that the universe was suddenly created out of nothing and the Kabbalistic belief that it happened about 15 billion years ago;-)

    • Pixel says:

      Beinart is why I say you can’t talk to zionist period.

      … All zionist start with “”Truths that Can’t Disputed”””. A Zionist state was ‘necessary”. It’s rightful place was Palestine. And some or all replacing of Palestines with Jews , the some or all depending on if they are liberal zio or not liberal zios, was necessary.
      We’ve all seen this and seen this and seen this. They make up their own truths. And all debate and conversation goes round and round and always back to their pilpul preordained truths. Try to argue the immorality of the theft of Palestine and they will argue the ‘greater moral good’ of necessity of a Jewish state, their pilpul truth.

      I just finished the book. I found this/find this hopelessly frustrating.

      • kalithea says:

        “I just finished the book. I found this/find this hopelessly frustrating.”

        And Beinart couldn’t be more pleased…his coffers thank you.

    • Mooser says:

      “Pilpul” occurs anytime I get near a medicine cabinet. I’ll pull ‘em out as fast as I can.

  8. pabelmont says:

    People who are defending any I/P ideology which is not at war with TRUTH are naturally going to criticize those (maybe like Terry Gross) like Peter Beinart whose ideology (soft, cuddly, teddy-bear Zionism?) requires them to ignore quite a number of to-them unpleasant and inconvenient truths.

    And we should call him on these things.

    However, he is talking to his own ideological peers and telling them there is a MAJOR, MAJOR problem that they need to face; if he omits to also tell them there a lot more problems that he and they are unwilling to face, we cannot be surprised.

    We should be glad he is telling them about the problem he CAN see; can admit into consciousness. If enough somewhat blind people describe the Israeli elephant, a sufficiently disastrous picture will emerge.

    • Pixel says:

      “(soft, cuddly, teddy-bear Zionism?)” – lol -
      To me, Beinart ‘s book reads as though it’s written by someone young and naive.
      .

      “…whose ideology…requires them to ignore quite a number of to-them unpleasant and inconvenient truths.”

      Yeah, sort of like kids who are upset that they can’t see any light when, actually, they’re simply afraid to take their hand off their eyes.
      .

      “However, he is talking to his own ideological peers and telling them there is a MAJOR, MAJOR problem that they need to face; if he omits to also tell them there a lot more problems that he and they are unwilling to face, we cannot be surprised.

      True that.

      Sadly, it’s all too little, too late.

    • kalithea says:

      “If enough somewhat blind people describe the Israeli elephant, a sufficiently disastrous picture will emerge.”

      Unfortunately, he’s describing an elephant when it’s really a Zionist frankenstein.

  9. Les says:

    Before Zionism, Jewish leaders unsurprisingly promoted justice and equality for all for eons of time, knowing full well that Jews were a minority people. The 180 degree turn from justice came with Zionism which by its nature is antithetical to both equality and justice.

  10. ToivoS says:

    Austin, nice review. I have one criticism. You say The cognitive dissonance is truly staggering .

    Cognitive dissonance is a term defined by social psychology that finds numerous applications to political and nationalist movements. But that doesn’t apply here, at least not for the most part. There are two other explanations.

    I was raised in the 1950′s in a family that supported Israel and were quite aware of the Nakba. It was considered a “historical necessity” much like the expulsion of 13 million Germans from their Eastern homelands or the suppression of the Ukrainian Kulaks. Israelis I have met over the years shared that view if willing to talk about it at all. This can be called many things but not delusional.

    Then there are the majority of American Jews who simply and honestly believe the founding myths — the Palestinians ran away with free will. This belief system ranges from willful ignorance to complete political indoctrination.

  11. Mayhem says:

    This study debunks ‘Crisis of Zionism’ myth  http://jppi.org.il/news/110/58/The-Challenge-of-Peoplehood/ .

    This is explained at link to commentarymagazine.com .

    All this ‘the wind is at our backs’ illusory hype about the demise of Zionism is simply wishful thinking.

    • Shingo says:

      This study debunks ‘Crisis of Zionism’ myth link to jppi.org.il

      No it doesn’t. The study was clearly focused on devout Jewish people, not the braoder Jewish community.

      This is explained at link to commentarymagazine.com

      Commentary magazine? The mother shipt that gave birth to Jennifer Rubin? Thanks for the comic relief.

      All this ‘the wind is at our backs’ illusory hype about the demise of Zionism is simply wishful thinking.

      And that is wishful thinking on your part. Immigrations stats don’t lie. Israel is epxeriencing a brain drain and people are leaving in droves.

      Sortryto burst your hasbra bubble.

    • your commentary mag article is deceptive mayhem. here’s what they quote from the study. (my bold)

      There is no conclusive evidence of an erosion of U.S. Jewry’s attachment to Israel. On the contrary, the studies that included a longitudinal comparative examination indicate a sustained and even increased level of attachment. In short, there is no evidence of distancing as compared to the past.

      that paragraph follows a little graph (bottom of page 7) that presumes attachment to israel will develop as a person matures thru ‘life cycle’. but the interesting thing is that paragraph commentary quotes…here is the full segment from the study: (their bold on the first bolded segment, then mine)

      We draw two conclusions based on the research to date: 1. There is no conclusive evidence of an erosion of U.S. Jewry’s attachment to Israel.
      On the contrary, the studies that included a longitudinal comparative examination indicate a sustained and even increased level of attachment. In short, there is no evidence of distancing as compared to the past.23
      2. Nonetheless, the changed circumstances surrounding American Jewish youth today raise the suspicion that studies pointing to distancing in the present, while not based on conclusive evidence, give more reason for worry than past studies. These changed circumstances include:

      -The general tendency of disengagement from any fixed identity in many spheres of American life; - The increasing emphasis on components of Jewish identity within the private sphere at the expense of traditional communal identity;
      - Substantial increase in the percentage of mixed marriages. Cohen and Kelman’s studies point to this finding as the determinant variable regarding attachment;
      -The return to relative calm on the Israeli front, the absence of engagement- enhancing momentous external events (obviously, war with Iran or other dramatic and tragic world events may develop into such external engagement- enhancing), and a concurrent decline of the Zionist narrative;
      -Indications of growing unease among young Jews toward Israeli policy on matters related to war and peace, and also to religious issues;
      -Decline in the centrality of organized Jewish community institutions and their ability to influence the younger generations.

      It should be mentioned that a decline over time in a diaspora community’s attachment to
      its core state or country of origin is a well-documented phenomenon.

      iow, while not conclusive evidence.there’s evidence in present time. lots of fancy wording that’s all. and do not miss this, pg 9 (their bold)

      2. There are clear gaps in Israel attachment between younger and older generations.

      note, one of the two people who carried out the study, Shmuel Rosner, also wrote this recently about another poll:(my bold)
      link to jewishjournal.com

      But since writing this analysis, new polls have been released, from which one can learn a bit more about the way Israelis feel about this question. A poll for Channel 10 news found that 56% of Israelis oppose an attack on Iran – but a poll conducted for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs supposedly gives the exact opposite view:

      iow, anyone can write a poll refuting someones argument or twisting someones words, just like commentary did.

      • RoHa says:

        “It should be mentioned that a decline over time in a diaspora community’s attachment to its core state or country of origin is a well-documented phenomenon.”

        So it is no surprise that modern American Jews are less attached to Poland than their ancestors were.

    • seafoid says:

      Mayhem

      If it didn’t matter they wouldn’t make such a big deal about it.

  12. HRK says:

    “Facepalm”–thanks for the new word!

  13. dbroncos says:

    Beinart:
    “As a Jewish state, Israel’s anthem, flag, and Jewish right of return would still afford Jewish Israelis a sense of national belonging and national refuge that Arab Israelis lack.”

    Frederick Douglass:
    “Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?”

  14. yourstruly says:

    only when they are forced to yield to the international demand for justice in palestine will israelis experience peace. justice, of course, to include the palestinian’s right of return along with equal rights (regardless of race, sex or religion) for those who choose to remain in the newly constituted society. israelis who refuse to accept anything less than their present day advantaged status, if they have dual citizenship in another country will be able to pack up and leave. those without passports or dual citizenship will have to seek entre somewhere else, same as palestinians have had to do ever since nakba, although they might as well stay put since it’s unlikely that they’ll find another land in which they’ll be allowed to reproduce the days of a yesteryear in which they acted as if they were conquistadores.

    too harsh, not enough sympathy for the zionist settlers? nonsense, a hell of a lot more sympathy than the settlers showed for palestinians. but how can a jewish american feel this way about his israeli co-religionists? it comes quite naturally, because to me being jewish is to always side with the oppressed, never with the oppressor, especially when the oppressor says he’s jewish and claims that he has certain divine rights which give him a free pass to oppress another people, since, according to the way i view my faith, anyone who thinks and behaves that way can’t be human let alone jewish, simple as that!

    • Pixel says:

      “… only when they are forced to yield to the international demand for justice in palestine … “

      Unfortunately, only when the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of changing, does authentic change occur.

      • kalithea says:

        “Unfortunately, only when the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of changing, does authentic change occur.”

        Pain? How can Zionists feel pain in the Jewish Disneyland they created for themselves? Only Palestinians can make them feel the pain; that’s why they’ve been walled off out of sight and out of mind.

  15. dbroncos says:

    Beinart doesn’t convince me that he believes the most non-sensical bits of his own jibber jabber concerning the conjugal harmony between the Jewish State AND democracy.

    • Kathleen says:

      Agree. But he sure is spreading awareness. I have read some of the things he has written, listened to him. His goal is protecting Israel not Palestinians or anyone else. He seems like an elite, self consumed individual. Don’t buy for one minute that his efforts have anything to do with humanitarian feelings. But if protecting Israel based on internationally recognized borders because he sees the one state solution getting closer and closer …then better late than never.

      All of the applause from Phil and others seems over done.

  16. RoHa says:

    I find it really depressing that “liberal” Zionists insist on seeing the Palestinians as having the same aims and ideas as the Zionists, with “Palestinian” replacing “Jew”.

    “a Palestinian state that enabled a Palestinian right of return”

    Palestinians are not interested in a “Law of Return”, but in actual return to the territory that is now Israel. What good would a “Law of Return” be to them?

    “and expressed Palestinian identity in its anthem and flag, Arab Israelis, like diaspora Jews, would had a country that expressed their special character as a people, even if they chose not to live there. ”

    As far as I can tell, Palestinians want full equal rights for Palestinians in Palestine. Expressing “Palestinian identity” and “their special character as a people” are minor matters, if they are interested in that stuff at all.

    “the Palestinians’ yearning for a state of their own.”

    Again, as far as I can tell, any “yearning for a state of their own” is just instrumental, as a way of getting those equal rights. From the early 20th century onwards, Palestinians seem to have taken the line that a unified Palestine in which all people were equal would be preferable to a Palestine divided into a Palestinian state and a Jewish State.

    • MHughes976 says:

      Yes indeed. Denying people their rights and then throwing them a few scraps, saying ‘These are yours! You can really express your very own culture in whatever you choose to do with them!’ is adding yet another insult to a whole heap of injury. And the people who do it think they are being just and enlightened.

      • RoHa says:

        To me it seems worse than that just throwing a few scraps. It seems they are saying “We understand you. You have the same obsessions we have.” If the Palestinians do not have the same obsessions*, this too is insulting as well as condescending.

        (*And as far as I can tell they do not. If I am wrong, I urge Palestinians to correct me.)

        • eljay says:

          >> If the Palestinians do not have the same obsessions* …

          Why would they not have the same obsessions? Is it because they hate the Jewish state and its freedoms?

        • RoHa says:

          “Why would they not have the same obsessions? Is it because they hate the Jewish state and its freedoms?”

          We all know that is the most likely reason.

          It is just a fantasy of mine that they might think that living in the land as equal citizens is more important than messing about with this drivel about “identity” and “character as a people”.

        • eljay says:

          >> It is just a fantasy of mine that they might think that living in the land as equal citizens is more important than messing about with this drivel about “identity” and “character as a people”.

          Must you always be so damned reasonable?!

        • RoHa says:

          I am covered with rue.

  17. Pixel says:

    Thanks for the post, Austin!

  18. kalithea says:

    Please restrict the end to the following excellent conclusion and LEAVE OUT THE LAST SENTENCE as I DID: “But for those who see Palestinians occupying the center stage of their struggle, one can’t help but be reminded of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous statement: “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” Never have I felt these words as much as when reading this book.”

    Don’t count on Beinart to “move in the right direction” when the ass in him is leading the way. You’re giving him way too much credit as a human being.

    But thank you for sparing others by taking on the drudge of parsing through the pile produced by his shallow, tribal Zionist brain. To think that trees were cut down on behalf of his hypocritical verbiage…! Carbon footprint, anyone?

    This isn’t the mid-life crisis of Zionism that will soon pass because Zionists like Beinart are sorting it all out. This is the beginning of THE FALL OF…, and thank God for that! Let’s not forget that crimes against humanity were repeatedly committed to prop up this Zionist frankenstein. The problem for Zionists is that they don’t live in early colonial times when overt genocide could limit the savage population into the future, and the Palestinians just aren’t resisting violently enough to justify killing a few thousand every year. Oh what a conundrum these Zionists are locked into! Apparently, so they say, God wanted the Jews to have the land, but he threw the Palestinians in their way, and these Jews just can’t figure out why getting rid of them isn’t working.

    Now everyone kindly help Beinart laugh all the way to the bank by purchasing this Zionist farce in print. (Snark)

    • “Don’t count on Beinart to ‘move in the right direction’ when the ass in him is leading the way. You’re giving him way too much credit as a human being.”

      …that’s a bit mean, don’t you think? He is, after all, just a human being. He’s been raised a certain way with certain beliefs, and it’s hard to dismiss something so dear to you, even if it’s wrong, in one fell swoop. We can’t just foreclose the possibility that erstwhile Zionists may see the error of their ways. As far as prominent Zionists go, I’m more hopeful for him than any other.

      • Kathleen says:

        Austin what is “mean” is to have ignored this human rights and crimes against humanity for so long. What is “mean” is keeping your head in the ground because of family pressure. What is absurd is all of the celebration of individuals who have been “mean” for so long because they are finally taking a human rights stand in regard to the Israeli Palestinian conflict

  19. Taxi says:

    ‘The Crisis of Zionism’.

    Hahahahaha!

    Followed by his next book: ‘The End of Zionism’ – out at your local bookstore soon.

    Now I would buy THAT book for sure – not to read, but to put in a glass frame and hang on my bathroom wall.

  20. Very interesting and seemingly fair-minded review. Thanks Austin and Mondo!

  21. EVSW says:

    Thanks for the review. I must admit it left me wondering whether to go out and get a copy. As a non-Jewish Englishmen who is interested in and follows the I-P conflict, is this book relevant for me.

    • Hey EVSW,

      Well, that depends on what your interests are! If you’re interested in learning about the construction of the American Jewish establishment and how it came to be subsumed by anti-Palestinian politics, then you should definitely give the book a read. If you’re interested to learn about how President Obama has been influenced by Jews, give it a read. If you’re interested in Palestinians and their struggle against Zionism, however, you should read something else.

  22. Erasmus says:

    Austin Branion’s article

    convincingly presents the “juxtaposition problem and the complexities” which make it so impossible for any logic thinking reader / listener to reconcile irrelevant theoretical claims of history, what “Zionism” may have meant for a few “pioneers” hundred years ago with the down to earth realities and the very nature of the State of Israel since 1948.

    Beinart should be squeaking aloud having been caught so darn well right by the b…s. I wonder for how long he might cling to his imho untenable positions?

    Moreover, it is my impression that by far toooo much attention is given to him as a person. In the first place i smell personal PR for himself and opportunism. Assuming an Obama victory in November, he has rather conspicuously taken side and defended the POTUS more than the flow of his arguments necessitated.

    He may be eying for a call from the WH during Obama’s second term…….?

  23. CarlK says:

    Zionism is an expression of ethnic nationalism — the idea that a particular ethnic group has a right to rule — in the name of the preferred ethnicity — over every other ethnic group living within the relevant territory. The Jewish State is a State ruled by Jews for Jews on behalf of Jews.

    Even if no non-Jews were actually deprived of his/her rights in the Jewish State, the Jewish State would still, as a matter of principle, offend the most basic assumptions of liberalism.

    All talk of “liberal Zionism,” even from apparently good people like Beinart, is an evasion, and therefore, a contribution to ongoing injustice.

  24. hophmi says:

    Having attended Beinart’s lecture last night at the Y, I can tell you he is not for you people. He strongly endorses Israel as a Jewish state and argues that a boycott of the settlements should be a accompanied by an equal amount of investment inside the Green Line. He is a proud Zionist. And he is a strong supporter of Jewish day school education.

    • American says:

      Well, duh……I think most here reconigized that right off the bat.

    • Scott says:

      Hophmi,

      Speaking for myself, but with a view I think shared by many others–I don’t think that many people would be contemplating a non-Zionist or one state solution if there was a two-state solution. It’s the failure of Israel to allow the second that opens the discourse to the possibility of the first. If Israel made an effort to end Palestinian statelessness–instead of the absurd denial that 1) its own actions had anything to do with creating it, and 2) denying the Palestinians are a people–I’d be happy to think about something else.

      • AlGhorear says:

        Scott, I doubt you’ll find much support for the two state solution here on Mondoweiss because even if there was a Palestinian State next to Israel, that doesn’t resolve the problems of ethno-religious racism and discriminatory laws that affect non-Jews living in Israel.

        I would go along with two states but only if it includes equal rights for all regardless of race, religion or gender and full right of return for all Palestinian refugees who choose to exercise that right and return to their homes and lands in Israel and the new Palestinian State.

        The wonderful writers on this site make it nearly impossible for me to get my work done. Could you all just quit being so articulate, insightful and reasonable?

    • Shmuel says:

      Thanks for the heads up, hophmi. I guess Beinart isn’t the Messiah after all ;-) (What sort of a name is “Peter” for a Jewish boy, anyway?)

    • kalithea says:

      No doubt he reassured and massaged a lot of Zionist ego. As I previously wrote since Beinart has become the darling of many an article here; this benevolent focus on him and Burston borders on DELUSIONAL, so thanks for proving me right and for a well-deserved REALITY CHECK. However, in the Delusional Department, Zionists get the prize.

    • heh
      that sounds like the same speech he gave in the Midwest over a year ago.
      Beinart is getting a lot of mileage out of the same tired old ideas.

      oh, and the Jewish day school thing — he suggested forming a coalition with Catholics &tc to pressure governments to fund them. chutzpah.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “He strongly endorses Israel as a Jewish state and argues that a boycott of the settlements should be a accompanied by an equal amount of investment inside the Green Line.”

      LMAO. Yes. He would not be for us. He doesn’t actually believe in human rights. Like all Zios, his thinking is defective and believes in human rights only when advantageous to Jews.

      “He is a proud Zionist.”

      BFD. There were proud Nazi and proud advocates for apartheid. He wants to boycott the settlement criminals. Well, one cheer for Peter. But that’s stomping on the roaches without going after the nest.