Peter Beinart’s book, The Crisis of Zionism, has been slammed from the right repeatedly, and also from the left, here. How about from a left-realist perspective? Chase Madar has given us permission to pick up his review of the book at The Washington Spectator. Excerpt. Full review at the link.
You would never know it from the hubbub, but Beinart’s position on U.S. policy toward Israel is not markedly different from that of his detractors. The shared bottom line is lavish military aid to Israel, $3 billion a year in munitions and advanced weaponry.
This longstanding annual package, supplemented by loan guarantees, has made Israel—a wealthy nation by global standards—the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid over the past 30 years. (Number two on the list has been Egypt, whose aid package is largely a bribe to make peace with its Israeli neighbor.)
Support for such unconditional military aid to Israel is spread across the gamut of pro-Israel organizations, from the conservative, powerful AIPAC on to J Street, purportedly a moderate counterweight to AIPAC, and even to “peace” groups like Americans for Peace Now. Given the unstoppable flow of weaponry from Washington to Israel, along with unstinting diplomatic support, the American-sponsored “peace process” is generally hard to distinguish from a war process. Few in the world see the U.S. as a neutral or credible arbiter between Palestine and Israel.
Bizarrely, Beinart fails even to sketch this all-important backdrop, alighting on America’s enormous military support for Israel only fleetingly and obliquely. One might expect a self-proclaimed liberal like Beinart to lustily advocate an end to military and diplomatic support for a nation that, as he admits, engages in ethnic cleansing and has Jim Crow-style laws at home.
Instead, Beinart merely proposes an economic boycott of the occupied West Bank. Given the near-total economic integration of this zone with Israel proper, the effect of such a measure would be negligible. For all the fury it has aroused, this is a timid book.
Today, Washington’s relationship with Israel is not some detail deep in the fine print of American statecraft. It is one of the engines of our Middle East policy and our costliest client-state relationship, whether measured in money, strategic liability, or reputation for honesty and human rights.
Beinart’s book, despite a few small nudges toward greater sanity, is itself a sign that the conversation needs to open up beyond rival factions of the Israel lobby.