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Potemkin Village in NY: Dersh and Beinart hold second debate over whether Zionism is in crisis

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Is there really a debate over the question, “Is Zionism in Crisis?” Two staunch Zionists, Peter Beinart and Alan Dershowitz, debated this issue at the City University of New York last October, and are now back by someone’s demand. This feels very Potemkin village to me. The followup debate is at CUNY, May 9, but it’s already full:

Following their impassioned fall 2012 conversation, Peter Beinart of the Daily Beast reengages with famed jurist Alan Dershowitz over issues raised in Beinart’s book The Crisis of Zionism. Moderated by Ethan Bronner, former Jerusalem bureau chief for the New York Times.

Proshansky Auditorium
CUNY The Graduate Center

Are two staunch Zionists really the poles of the American conversation on a Jewish state? Where are the Palestinians? Where is anti-Zionist Ben Ehrenreich or Max Blumenthal? Don’t they count?

I see the hand of the powers here. Right wing Israel supporter Jeffrey Wiesenfeld is on the CUNY board, of course. And at the first debate last year, the moderator says at the beginning that it’s sponsored in part by the Hertog Foundation, which also funds the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute. Their summary:

In a lively and often raucous discussion, famed jurist Alan Dershowitz and political journalist Peter Beinart debate the topic of Beinart’s provocative new book, The Crisis of Zionism, and the role of Israelis in the creation of the Palestinian state. “Every time Israel subsidizes more Israelis to move to the West Bank we make those Palestinian leaders, who reluctantly accept Israel’s right to exist, look like fools,” said Beinart, an associate professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, who also called for a boycott of Israeli products from beyond its 1967 eastern border. “Peter naively believes that if Israel resolves its problems with the Palestinians, the threat that Israel faces will go away,” said Dershowitz, to the audience at the Perspectives: Conversations on Policy and Place with Peter Beinart series at the Graduate Center. “But they won’t —- the problem is that the vast majority of Muslims don’t see the two-state solution as the answer.”

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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21 Responses

  1. Krauss on April 30, 2013, 11:47 am

    At this point, the main use of Beinart is to act as the ‘safe critic’ for scared old Jews like The Dersh who gets nervous whenever he sees a brown person who isn’t on a stage singing music or on a sports field.

    Much like the white liberal Jewish establishment tolerates “The Gatekeepers” because the people coming forward are white old men who are all Zionists.

    5 Broken cameras is the voice of the dispossessed brown people under the boot of the occupier, which is much more threatening. The same dynamic plays out here.

    The Dersh cannot really sink any lower, so that’s not what I am that concerned with. What I am surprised by is the extent to which Beinart will sink to indulge in the racist fantasies of people like Dershowitz where no Palestinians (or for that matter anti-Zionist Jews or just plain gentile liberals) are allowed.

    History is passing both of these gentlemen by.

    • jabaroot on April 30, 2013, 10:31 pm

      I try to refrain from commenting unless I have something original to say, but I have to let you know that I am totally in love with this comment of yours. You hit the nail on the head.

  2. pabelmont on April 30, 2013, 11:58 am

    “Are two staunch Zionists really the poles of the American conversation on a Jewish state? Where are the Palestinians? Where is anti-Zionist Ben Ehrenreich or Max Blumenthal? Don’t they count?”

    This is NOT a question of American foreign policy, not a question about the propriety of this or that Jewish state, but of Zionism liking itself (or licking its wounds).

    Wouldn’t it be a gas if [1] Zionism were in serious crisis, or dead, and also [2] the 2SS were dead, and a 1SS apartheid were inevitable, in place, and infinite?

    The Palestinians are the victims of Zionism, the (other) anti-Zionists are its enemies, but the mere existence of enemies of Zionism was not the question.

    The question was whether or not the strength of Zionism was being depleted: is the movement (O noble Zionism!) in crisis? Dost doubt thyself, O Zionism?

    The enemies might seek to create or fuel a/the crisis, but the crisis itself (if any) lies inside the movement (or maybe in former Zionists who’ve jumped ship). So a convocation of Zionists to consider their own movement is exactly reasonable.

    If that was the question, Is Zionism in Crisis?! Because, there are other more interesting questions for Americans, Jews, and others to consider.

    • American on April 30, 2013, 2:54 pm

      “but of Zionism liking itself ”

      Opps, for a minute there I misread ‘liking ‘ as ‘licking’ itself.
      Gave me a vision …lol…..maybe all these zio to zio debates should be illustrated with a picture of a dog licking it’s doggie anus.

  3. Citizen on April 30, 2013, 12:17 pm

    Here’s the crisis, thanks to complicit media and governments in US & Israel, very few there know the reality of the Israeli daily occupation:

    New member of Knesset visits Ramallah and is appalled, says “This is not normal!” Obviously she did not coordinate her visit to her friend there first with her own government of which she was a new component: http://972mag.com/new-knesset-member-visits-a-friend-in-ramallah-this-is-not-normal/69749/

    Israel occupation: U have to see it, to believe it:
    http://972mag.com/israeli-occupation-you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it/69412/

    The rest of the world is aware of what Zionism has wrought. They are just too weak to stand up to the lone super power USA. But time is not on the side of the USA, and, unless Israel can, as it’s custom reveals, find a new powerful big buddy rufus to replace the Uncle Sam, time is also not on side of Israel.

    • James Canning on April 30, 2013, 7:33 pm

      Citizen – – The control of the US Congress, by the Israel lobby, grows stronger year by year.

      Are you referrring to the undermining of the strength of the US, brought about by idioitic levels of “defence” spending – – in part to “protect” Israel?

      • Citizen on May 3, 2013, 10:12 am

        @ James Canning
        My comment was specifically concerned with the simple lack of awareness on the part of many Israelis, even a new member of the Knesset, and ditto re most Americans, the lack of awareness of everyday life for the Palestinians, all funded by US tax dollars. Please read it again.
        Again, “You have to see it, to believe it.”

  4. W.Jones on April 30, 2013, 12:18 pm

    “Peter naively believes that if Israel resolves its problems with the Palestinians, the threat that Israel faces will go away,” said Dershowitz, to the audience at the Perspectives: Conversations on Policy and Place with Peter Beinart series at the Graduate Center. “But they won’t —- the problem is that the vast majority of Muslims don’t see the two-state solution as the answer.”

    Well, if the Palestinians saw it as the answer and the problem was resolved in a good way, that would be the main thing.

    On the other hand, if the problem was “resolved” in a bad way, naturally the other problems might not either.

    • Bumblebye on April 30, 2013, 2:41 pm

      Using that same quote, the Dersh is conflating Palestinians not just with all Arabs, but with all Muslims. Kinda sorta forgets the diversity not just of Palestinians themselves, but of Arabs and of Muslims in general. He seems to think peace with Palestinians is pointless, being completely blind to the fact that a just peace with them would vastly reduce any perceived threat to Israel, by, ooohh, 98%? More?

  5. Citizen on April 30, 2013, 12:34 pm

    As usual Derhsie avoids the point being made, which was that the acceptable (to Israel, hence the USA) Palestinian leaders look like fools because the outside world watches Israel gobble up more land while it says it has no partner for peace, yet it won’t agree to even pause its land-grabbing to sit at a negotiating table where the broker is its best buddy and financier and the Palestinians have no power. His hole card is Jewish fear, with nothing to quell it but status quo occupation and land-grabbing. Didn’t the Arab states just propose a peace plan, commencing at the green line, but giving Israel all its settlements except a handful of “hilltop” ones?

  6. Kathleen on April 30, 2013, 12:42 pm

    Zionism was birthed out of ethnocentrism and is elitist at its very roots. That is a crisis in and of itself.

    “Every time Israel subsidizes more Israelis to move to the West Bank we make those Palestinian leaders, who reluctantly accept Israel’s right to exist, look like fools,” said Beinart,

    Makes Palestinian leaders look like saints and very reasonable individuals. Makes Israel and the U.S. look like the bullies that they continue to be.

    • James Canning on April 30, 2013, 1:53 pm

      Kathleen – – Is Zionist expansionism “elitist”? Foolish, of course.
      Upper-class Jews in England and Germany prior to First World War tended to be anti-Zionist.

  7. Chespirito on April 30, 2013, 1:04 pm

    What a useless, tedious pseudodebate. [Sound of Big Bird snoring.]

    • pabelmont on April 30, 2013, 2:05 pm

      Che Spirito, you ask: What is the sound made by two Zionists in a forest if there is no fish-on-a-bicycle to hear them? And what is the sound of one hand waving goodbye? All good questions for these two.

  8. eljay on April 30, 2013, 2:05 pm

    >> “But they won’t —- the problem is that the vast majority of Muslims don’t see the two-state solution as the answer.”

    The vast majority of Muslims? What about the vast majority of Palestinians?

    I imagine that many(?) Palestinians see a sincerely-negotiated and mutually-beneficial two-state solution – comprising two secular, democratic and egalitarian states of and for their respective citizens – as a viable option.

    What I imagine Palestinians don’t see as a viable option is an arrogant and militarily-potent Supremacist State of Greater Israel next to a defenceless Palestine cobbled out of whatever scraps of land the Zio-supremacists leave them with.

  9. American on April 30, 2013, 3:14 pm

    ‘“Peter naively believes that if Israel resolves its problems with the Palestinians, the threat that Israel faces will go away,” said Dershowitz,’

    Dershowitz naively believes that Jew hatred and anti semitism is why Israel has enemies. And when Isr finally ‘does something’ bad enough to provoke others to attack/destroy it, he will claim they only did so because it was a Jewish state….not because of what Isr did.
    There is no cure for the Dershowitz kind of brain.

  10. Blank State on April 30, 2013, 3:51 pm

    Dershowitz need only look in the mirror to find an answer to that question.

  11. Pamela Olson on April 30, 2013, 4:20 pm

    “Peter naively believes that if Israel resolves its problems with the Palestinians, the threat that Israel faces will go away,” said Dershowitz, to the audience at the Perspectives: Conversations on Policy and Place with Peter Beinart series at the Graduate Center. “But they won’t —- the problem is that the vast majority of Muslims don’t see the two-state solution as the answer.”

    So what the hell is YOUR solution, genius?

  12. James Canning on April 30, 2013, 7:30 pm

    All Arab countries, and all other Muslim countries, endorsed the 2002 Saudi peace plan.

  13. Sumud on May 1, 2013, 7:28 am

    “Peter naively believes that if Israel resolves its problems with the Palestinians, the threat that Israel faces will go away,” said Dershowitz, to the audience at the Perspectives: Conversations on Policy and Place with Peter Beinart series at the Graduate Center. “But they won’t —- the problem is that the vast majority of Muslims don’t see the two-state solution as the answer.”

    “Jursist” and torture fanboi Dershowitz is disingenuous, as normal.

    Why is he talking about muslims not arabs? In fact – when the vast majority of the world sides with Palestinians, why is he talking about muslims at all?

    In fact all 57 member states of the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation), including bogeyman Iran, are on board for the Arab Leagues’s Arab Peace Initiative which advocates Israel return to 1967 borders and will accept a negotiated solution the the issue of Palestinian refugees. ELEVEN YEARS after the Arab League floated the initiative, Israel still hasn’t responded.

    The problem isn’t muslims. The problem isn’t arabs – the problem is Israel and zionists.

    Alan naively believes that US power to jam the workings of the international justice system is infinite, and apartheid Israel will be able to continue to act with reckless impunity for all time. But it won’t – a majority of the countries in the world are sick and tired of Israel’s behaviour, and support for a one-person/one-vote single state movement is growing fast, which will be the end of the “jewish state” of Israel. The greatest threat to Israel today is internal, and it is a deadly combination of greed and hubris among zionists.

  14. piotr on May 1, 2013, 10:40 am

    Derschowitz argument, “the problem is that the vast majority of Muslims don’t see the two-state solution as the answer.” is a standard Harbara point, and quite meaningless. It is like “how can I stop beating up this guy if all members of his family hate me? bwahaha! sob, sob, sob”. More precisely, the exchange normally proceeds like that “wouldn’t it be better to expand settlements somewhat slower?” “settlements are not a problem! they do not like us anyway!”. A tourist from Mars would have hard time believing that such signals are produced by intelligent live forms that actually survived for a considerable amount of time.

    My least favorite argument is about “tough neighborhood”. And also the place where Jews can live much more safely than in Boca Raton and Toronto.

    Other parts of the Zionist master plan make more sense. It is really unnecessary for USA to protect Israel forever. Plan B1: Messiah will come (and with luck, not of the Christian variety, nor the Hidden Imam nor Mahdi) and will save the Jews (at least those who carry little Torahs with them, you can get them from Chabadniks). Plan B2: Israelis will depart for the subsequent Diaspora and they will have enough heroic stories to let them preserve their identity for another 2000 years. So there are at least two ways of resolving the problem “they do not like it anyway”. In the meantime the priorities are clear: generate the heroic stories of reclaiming the land, smiting the Amelek etc. to either please the Messiah or for plan B2.

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