Establishment Jews attack Beinart over settlement boycott call

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

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.

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

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

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… Read more »

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… Read more »

“[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!

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