The Forward publishes some pithy comments by Peter Beinart that suggest that he has fully occupied the ground he surveyed in his groundbreaking piece, and the devil take Leon Wieseltier. (The interview, with Larry Cohler-Esses, is available in a podcast here). Notice in the second excerpt that Beinart’s embrace of a Jewish state is not full-throated, no it feels almost rote. Because the flag has a Star of David… With this sort of declaration, his kids are sure to be one-staters. Excerpts:
On the extent and limits of debate on the Middle East in America: I think we suffer from a distinct absence of Palestinian voices, particularly after the death of Edward Said. Whatever you thought about him, he was the one really high-profile Palestinian, or at least Arab thinker. I think the other weakness in our public debate is the timidity in Congress. I think there’s no question that the perceived power of AIPAC and of other pro-Israel organizations makes members of Congress more inhibited than they would otherwise be in being critical of Israel. Or if you look at the case of Chas Freeman, for instance, in his appointment to head the National Intelligence Council, or the case of Rob Malley, for instance, of not getting a position.
Beinart seeks to reconcile several contradictory remarks he has made regarding his position on equality for Arab citizens of Israel, and on reviving "liberal Zionism". Warning, excerpt begins with some If’s: If you have a Jewish right of return in Israel, if you have the national anthem be Hatikvah, if you have the flag as it is today, it is a Jewish state and therefore, inevitably and tragically, any non-Jew in Israel will not have the same equal citizenship as he or she would have in a state that has no religious or ethnic identity. I am not a supporter of a secular, binational state; I just don’t think it’s realistic. But that is a far cry from accepting the policies of the Israeli government that make it very difficult for Israeli Arab citizens to buy land, that lead to chronic underdevelopment, under-education in Arab areas and that, in the case of the Lieberman agenda, lead to a whole series of efforts, basically accusing Israeli Arabs of treason, of limiting their rights, and I think potentially even creating the kind of climate that leads to a more serious discussion of their expulsions.
I accept the tragic necessity of a Jewish state that can never be as fully liberal as I would like.