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Beinart’s (colonial) Jewish (imperial) democratic state

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Peter Beinart

Peter Beinart

This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

Peter Beinart’s latest attempt to enter the Israel fray comes with his analysis of the American Studies Association boycott resolution. He begins by dispensing with the “singling out Israel” and “anti-Semitism” criticisms voiced by the Jewish establishment. Beinart concludes they’re red herrings.

Beinart’s criticism lay elsewhere. He thinks that behind the resolution is opposition to the very idea of democratic Jewish state of Israel. Here’s Beinart:

The best argument against the ASA’s boycott isn’t about double standards or academic freedom. It’s about the outcome the boycott seeks to produce. The Association’s boycott resolution doesn’t denounce “the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.” It denounces “the Israeli occupation of Palestine” and “the systematic discrimination against Palestinians,” while making no distinction whatsoever between Israeli control of the West Bank, where Palestinians lack citizenship, the right to vote and the right to due process, and Israel proper, where Palestinians, although discriminated against, enjoy all three. That’s in keeping with the “boycotts, divestments, and sanctions” movement more generally. BDS proponents note that the movement takes no position on whether there should be one state or two between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. But it clearly opposes the existence of a Jewish state within any borders. The BDS movement’s call for “respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties” denies Israel’s right to set its own immigration policy. So does the movement’s call for “recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality”, which presumably denies Israel’s right to maintain the preferential immigration policy that makes it a refuge for Jews. Indeed, because the BDS movement’s statement of principles makes no reference to Jewish rights and Jewish connection to the land, it’s entirely possible to read it as giving Palestinians’ rights to national symbols and a preferential immigration policy while denying the same to Jews.

This is the fundamental problem: Not that the ASA is practicing double standards and not even that it’s boycotting academics, but that it’s denying the legitimacy of a democratic Jewish state, even alongside a Palestinian one. I don’t think that position is inherently anti-Semitic, but I do think it’s profoundly misguided.

Beinart is interesting here in ways that aren’t always obvious to those who read him. They may not be obvious to Beinart himself.

Everyone knows that Israel isn’t going anywhere. Palestinians aren’t going to be saved by Israel disappearing. Everyone knows that Palestine isn’t reappearing in any form hoped for or recognizable by Palestinians.

Nonetheless, the rhetoric that places Israel as a Jewish state on hold has its place in the political economy.  Hitting at the (im)possibility of a Jewish and democratic state is important. It sends a message to our fully assimilated Jewish leaders, including our rabbinate, that the claim of Jewish privilege, historically established or not, is contradicted by Israel’s oppressive and Jewish leadership’s enabling behavior.

Jews can have it both ways – being special and conquerors – only in the assimilated Jewish imagination. But Beinart shouldn’t expect Palestinians or non-Jews in the West to sign up for Israel boosterism.

Jews of Conscience aren’t going to play a game of Jewish musical chairs involving the idea of a Jewish democratic state – especially when the chairs are upholstered with Star of David helicopter gunships.

Jews of Conscience are tone deaf to assimilation to power. Chalk it up to the DNA of the Jewish prophetic.

What makes Beinart aggravating is that he continues to play around the edges of the Jewish prophetic.  If and when his deeper conscience kicks in, he won’t have anywhere to go except prophetic.  Whether this will override his status and income stream remains to be seen.

Beinart operates within the illusion of innocence he seeks to preserve through his criticism of Israeli policy.  Nothing on record, including this current round of peace initiatives, suggests that Israel is anything but a colonial and imperial power with regard to the Palestinian people. While it can certainly be argued that American politics closely resembles Israel’s double whammy of democracy and imperial power, every Jew in the world knows that this well-trod dichotomous behavior is impossible to justify forever in Jewish life.

The reason is obvious. It has to do with the prophetic which was and remains the indispensable disposer of euphemisms. Especially when stripped of overt religious language, the Jewish prophetic tradition is relentless in its honesty. The last thing the Jewish prophetic can abide is the possibility of calling a state democratic and Jewish when it permanently oppresses another people.

Someone should spell this out to Beinart. As long as the Palestinians are without their freedom the Jewish prophetic critique of Israel will continue. Non-Jews aren’t going to shut up either.

Palestinians have to guide their own ship of state. But to suggest, even by critics of Beinart, that Jewishness is beside the point in the discussion of Israel/Palestine is simply scoring (important) rhetorical points. Beinart has a right and a responsibility – as do other Jews – to fight for a Jewish particularity that responds to the deepest impulses of Jewish history.

When I hear One State discourses void of Jewish life and possibility, I wince. Is the oversight deliberate or simply the unintended consequence of a universalism that seems so real that another’s particularity fails to register? That’s when I remember that Jewish sensibilities have always been troubling and at odds with intellectual and societal trends. But, then, after all is said and done, doesn’t the struggle Palestinians are waging against insurmountable odds bear a similar claim – that Palestine and Palestinians have a destiny?

Ultimately, Beinart attempts to discipline the Jewish prophetic because he hasn’t gone deep enough to dispense with the euphemism, “democratic Jewish state.” A democratic Jewish state is, has become, and can only be a euphemism as long as Palestinians are not free.

What such a Jewish state might become if it survives in its present form without this specific and horrific form of oppression I leave for future generations. To speak of a democratic Jewish state now, as Beinart does, is regressive, illusionary and dangerous to the wellbeing of Palestinians and Jews alike.

Holding onto this euphemism of a democratic Jewish state is an ideal already infused with a Palestinian contradiction. There doesn’t seem to be a way back. The only way of overcoming this contradiction is traveling the road that Beinart interprets only from a safe distance.

The paradox is that Beinart isn’t safe at all. Remaining with the euphemism of a democratic Jewish state makes him culpable in the destruction of Palestine.

Marc H. Ellis
About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of the Global Prophetic. His latest book is Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures.

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33 Responses

  1. just
    just
    December 20, 2013, 9:58 am

    This kind of “destruction”? State- sponsored terrorism and murder?

    “Second incident in 24 hours || Israeli force kills Palestinian during military operation in West Bank
    Israeli troops retaliate after coming under fire in Qalqilyah; Palestinians sources say the man was a member of a West Bank security force.”

    “A Palestinian was killed early on Thursday during an Israeli military operation in the West Bank town of Qalqilyah, only hours after a Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli forces in Jenin”

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.564334

    • just
      just
      December 20, 2013, 11:02 pm

      Oh wait– here’s a third “incident”:

      “A 22-year-old Palestinian was killed by IDF gunfire on Friday, near Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, Palestinians reports said. Four other Palestinians were wounded in incidents that occurred in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip and in Jabaliya in the north.
      The IDF said that its soldiers used live fire to contain a number of violent incidents near the border and “several hits were identified”, but did not confirm any dead or wounded.”
      http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.564618#

      PS– I just LOVE how this is categorized under “news/diplomacy-defense”. An oxymoron if I ever saw one……….then again, I guess that diplomacy comes at the end of a gun/missile/bulldozer when it comes to Israel……one and the same.

      What does “several hits were identified” mean in human- speak???

  2. Talkback
    Talkback
    December 20, 2013, 10:15 am

    Beinhart: So does the movement’s call for “recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality”, which presumably denies Israel’s right to maintain the preferential immigration policy that makes it a refuge for Jews.

    Wow, just wow! Expelling and denationalizing citizens and keeping them that way is a state’s right to maintain “the preferential immigration policy”. What is the difference between ‘liberal Zionism’ and ‘liberal Nazism’ again?

    • Rusty Pipes
      Rusty Pipes
      December 20, 2013, 10:59 am

      Beinart wouldn’t have to presume what “recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality” entails if he bothered to tackle how Israel’s institutionalized racism impacts their lives. Adalah is a good source for that. Goliath as well.

    • Brown-Eyed Girl
      Brown-Eyed Girl
      December 20, 2013, 11:27 am

      I wonder how Beinhart felt about Arizona’s immigration laws and the desire of it’s Governor Jan Brewer to limit Mexican illegal immigration in order to preserve Arizona’s predominately white heritage? I wonder how he feels about the desire of many Americans to restrict immigration because it has rapidly changed the racial/ethnic/linguistic heritage of the US. Somehow, I think Beinhart feels that the US should welcome, encourage, and allow non-white/non-European immigration, legal and illegal, (the politically-correct liberal view) adamantly opposes allowing Palestinians to return to return to the homes they or their parents were forcefully evicted from to allow Jewish immigration to Palestine.

  3. DaveS
    DaveS
    December 20, 2013, 10:22 am

    While I have no issue with Ellis’s criticism of what Beinart did say in the second half of his article, Beinart’s rejection of the double standard attack on the ASA decision – by far the most prominent – is quite impressive:

    [Many have] claimed that applying a double standard to the Jewish state represents anti-Semitism, whether the ASA’s members recognize it or not.

    I find this deeply unconvincing. Of course Israel isn’t among the world’s worst human rights abusers. Of course boycotting it—and not China or Iran—constitutes a double standard. But so does most political protest. In the 1970s, American Jewish groups picketed the Bolshoi Ballet to demand freedom for Soviet Jews.

    Were there actions illegitimate because they weren’t also protesting Idi Amin and Pol Pot, who were at the time committing far worse crimes? In 2010, dozens of cities, performers and professional groups boycotted Arizona because of its draconian immigration law. Were their actions immoral because they didn’t first boycott Zimbabwe? In the mid-1990s, the United States waged humanitarian war in Bosnia and did nothing in Rwanda, where the slaughter was worse. At the time, United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali suggested that this constituted a double standard, perhaps even a racial one, and he was right. But I’m still glad America stopped genocide somewhere.

    I don’t subscribe to his view of Bosnia, but I find his overall reasoning very articulate and persuasive. Of course I did not need to be persuaded, but still, it does stand as an excellent rebuttal to that argument.

    • DaveS
      DaveS
      December 20, 2013, 10:28 am

      I should add that I am getting awfully sick and tired of Beinart’s acknowledgement that Israel the Jewish State necessarily discriminates against Palestinians but that they’ll just have to live with it to make Jews like himself feel safer around the world. A few years ago, I admired his candor in admitting some difficult truths, and hoped that his overall position would continue to evolve as he became unable to reconcile Zionism with true liberal, modern-day principles of equality and justice. But he hasn’t seemed to budge, and while he occasionally says something meaningful, like what I praised here, his stuck-in-the-mud “solution” is getting really old.

      • pabelmont
        pabelmont
        December 20, 2013, 11:31 am

        Samel: “I should add that I am getting awfully sick and tired of Beinart’s acknowledgement that Israel the Jewish State necessarily discriminates against Palestinians but that they’ll just have to live with it to make Jews like himself feel safer around the world.”

        Exactly, and that is the crux of “liberal Zionism”, viz., that no-one should challenge the proposition: [1] a Jewish State has a right to exist as a safety zone for the world’s Jews, [2A] it must exist inside (or even consist of all of) Palestine, [2B] it cannot be small, dammit, and thus cannot be the (mere) 55% proposed by the UNGA in 1947, regardless of what the Jewish Agency said it agreed to at the time, or even the (mere) 78% acquired by the 1948 war, [3] it must “be Jewish” which, we learn, means, inter alia, that it must exclude most of the proper inhabitants of the territory which it controls (either by physical exclusion via massive and deliberate exile in 1948, via refusal to repatriate, via small-scale further exile, via imprisonment and killing — or by political exclusion, by making most Palestinians living in Greater Israel non-citizens of Israel).

        All this is “by right” — liberal Zionists tell us — and they feel justified to make this horribly anti-human-rights claim because they take as an uber-axiom the need and (therefore, somehow) the right to create and maintain a “Jewish State” (as listed above) in Palestine.

        I don’t buy it. What’s more, I don’t see why anyone does. Especially today, when the need for a safety-zone for Jews is less apparent than it was in 1945 and when the horror of what Israel has done is daily getting both mreo apparent and more awful.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        December 20, 2013, 8:07 pm

        “Beinart’s acknowledgement that Israel the Jewish State necessarily discriminates against Palestinians but that they’ll just have to live with it to make Jews like himself feel safer around the world. ”

        This is yet another version of the idea that Jews are more important than other people in general and Palestinians in particular.

    • John Douglas
      John Douglas
      December 20, 2013, 4:03 pm

      I have a different reply to the double-standard argument. I am not by nature a universalist humanitarian. I don’t carry the gene that requires a person to suffer because of the suffering of total strangers. I single out the behavior of Israel because of the damage that this tiny country has done, and continues to do, to my country. Because of the manipulation by Israeli propagandists of the consciences of diaspora Jews, primarily Americans, and the subsequence manipulation by the Lobby of policies of the U.S. government in the middle east, the U.S. has been harmed immeasurably. No one can deny this. No one can claim that the Schumer and Menendez bill was constructed to serve American interests, a bill that risks sending Americans once again to their deaths. No one can claim that it was good for the U.S. to have Obama openly lie in front of the entire planet in his speech at the UN, claiming that a declaration of a Palestinian State was bad for Palestinians. The list is endless. Any American has a right to treat Israel differently than Uganda and will have that right until Israel gets out of our hair.

    • Keith
      Keith
      December 20, 2013, 4:53 pm

      DAVID SAMEL- “But I’m still glad America stopped genocide somewhere.”

      Clearly a defense of “Just War Theory” by this member of the imperial intelligentsia.

      • DaveS
        DaveS
        December 21, 2013, 9:21 am

        Seriously, Keith? You think I authored those words and consequently am a “member of the imperial intelligentsia”? Beinart wrote that, and while I applauded his general answer to the double standard argument, I explicitly stated that I disagreed with him on Bosnia. I could not have been any clearer. Please be a little more careful. In fact, even minimum care would be a huge improvement.

      • Keith
        Keith
        December 21, 2013, 12:34 pm

        DAVID SAMEL- “Seriously, Keith? You think I authored those words and consequently am a “member of the imperial intelligentsia”?

        No, I think that Peter Beinart is the author of those words and a member of the imperial intelligentsia. I was responding to your quote of Beinart which you found “quite impressive.” Obviously, I did not, at least that part which justifies some imperial military interventions as a good thing. And, generally speaking, Beinart’s opinions will always be tainted by his imperial bias.

      • DaveS
        DaveS
        December 23, 2013, 9:26 am

        Keith –
        Point 1: When you post

        DAVID SAMEL- “But I’m still glad America stopped genocide somewhere.”

        you are explicitly quoting me, or in this case, erroneously quoting me. You know that, as you accurately posted:

        DAVID SAMEL- “Seriously, Keith? You think I authored those words and consequently am a “member of the imperial intelligentsia”?

        Point 2: When I offer an extended quote of someone, and say I agree with the overall reasoning but that “I don’t subscribe to his view of Bosnia,” that means I do not agree with that particular statement about Bosnia – which concluded with “I’m still glad America stopped genocide somewhere.” To repeat, it means I disagreed with that part about Bosnia, not that I found it “quite impressive.”

        Point 3: When I point out your two egregious errors, in attributing to me someone else’s quote and an opinion I expressly disavowed, the appropriate response is to acknowledge the errors and apologize. Instead, you pretended you did not make the first, and you repeated the second.

        Point 4: I hate to have a personal spat with a stranger on a website that is devoted to pursuing justice for millions of people, but you’re acting like a turd.

      • Chu
        Chu
        December 23, 2013, 11:17 am

        Come on, Keith. At least admit you’re a bonehead when you’re clearly
        attributing this quote to Samel. Anyone can clearly see you misinterpreted
        the quote as David’s own.

      • Keith
        Keith
        December 23, 2013, 1:05 pm

        DAVID SAMEL- “…you are explicitly quoting me, or in this case, erroneously quoting me.”

        Your name appeared at the front because I was responding to your comment. More specifically, your quote of Peter Beinart which I copied. I am aware that you didn’t agree with Beinart on Bosnia, however, my comment referred to Beinart, the author of the quote, not to you. Although my reference was obvious to me at the time, with the benefit of hindsight, perhaps my brief comment was somewhat ambiguous and I should have inserted Beinart’s name in the one sentence. However, let me assure you that I have never thought of you as a member of the “imperial intelligentsia,” although you and Chu seem to find the reference plausible. Two things I find interesting is that you can’t believe that I was referring to Beinart, not you, ambiguity inconceivable. The second is the extreme umbrage your are taking. Perhaps, I have made a comment in the past which offended you and left you disposed to misconstrue. If I tell you that I was referring to Beinart, why continue to, in effect, call me a liar? If you feel that my use of quotes was misleading, why not simply point that out without the rancor? Your over-the-top response to my one sentence comment suggests something more is going on.

        David Samel says: “I hate to have a personal spat with a stranger on a website that is devoted to pursuing justice for millions of people, but you’re acting like a turd.”

        An interesting closing statement from someone who tries to avoid “personal spats.”

      • DaveS
        DaveS
        December 23, 2013, 3:32 pm

        Keith, I can’t think of any previous encounter we have had that would lead me to misconstrue your comment. Frankly, it was not ambiguous, and I do not doubt that your error, whatever it was, was “honest” in that you did not set out to smear me dishonestly. It simply was most careless of you. I write under my own name, and while I have no problem with the decision of you and most commenters to use anonymity, I don’t like to be so directly accused of things I did not say. I do find it embarrassing to have to defend myself personally on this website, but thought it necessary here. Could I have let your insult pass? Sure, but I decided not to, and if that’s a sin of judgment, it’s greatly outweighed by yours.

      • Keith
        Keith
        December 23, 2013, 4:35 pm

        DAVID SAMEL- “Could I have let your insult pass?”

        Insult? I make a one sentence comment regarding something Beinart said which you quoted and you are insulted? In spite of my assurances that I was referring to Beinart, the author of the quote, you insist that I am “smearing” you? Jeez, are you for real? Let me put it to you this way, had you called to my attention that my formatting may have caused a third party to mistake the Beinart quote for something you said, I would have likely apologized and made sure to be more careful in the future when quoting a quote within a comment. However, having been called a liar and a turd who is smearing you, I feel that, on balance, I am the aggrieved party. Permit me to rephrase the original comment to eliminate any misunderstanding.

        “DAVID SAMEL- Beinart quote: “But I’m still glad America stopped genocide somewhere.”

        “Clearly a defense of “Just War Theory” by Beinart, a member of the imperial intelligentsia.”

        Of course, had I had any inkling of your reaction to my comment, I wouldn’t have bothered to make it. Nor will I ever again bother. As for insults, you seem to toss them around in cavalier fashion, my reaction to effectively being called a liar of little concern to you. This has gone on long enough. This is my last comment on this thread.

  4. eljay
    eljay
    December 20, 2013, 10:37 am

    >> This is the fundamental problem: Not that the ASA is practicing double standards and not even that it’s boycotting academics, but that it’s denying the legitimacy of a democratic Jewish state, even alongside a Palestinian one. I don’t think that position is inherently anti-Semitic, but I do think it’s profoundly misguided.

    The fundamental problem with Zio-supremacists – even “liberal” ones like Mr. Beinart – is their profoundly misguided belief that Jewish supremacism is somehow more legitimate than other forms of supremacism.

    • bilal a
      bilal a
      December 20, 2013, 2:11 pm

      Start with the assumption that most Israelis didnt choose to be born in Palestine anymore than most Americans chose to be born in an America stolen from its original inhabitants, or in Arizona, stolen from the Spanish, who stole it from the whomever.

      So the new native born from a majority in America , or Arizona , or Israel: now does that give them a right to democratically regulate their territory as its recognized by the UN, including its immigration policy, including deporting infiltrators? India, China, Canada, Mexico all do this.

      Singling out Israel or Arizona for regulating its citizenship rights as ‘racist’ seems , racist.

      Of course, any state intervention beyond its recignized borders is somehting entirely different, as is ethno-religious discrimination within those borders.

      • annie
        annie
        December 20, 2013, 2:45 pm

        So the new native born from a majority in America , or Arizona , or Israel: now does that give them a right to democratically regulate their territory as its recognized by the UN

        the right? or the responsibility? because the UN recognizes the rights of palestinian refugees and the responsibility of Israel to abide by international law. palestinians refugees are not the same as new or illegal immigrants. in the land of palestine, they are the natives and cannot be considered ‘immigrants’ in palestine by any stretch of the imagination. that cannot be said for most mexicans wishing to immigrate to the US as they are not refugees from US territory whose ancestors were kicked out.

        there’s no analogous relationship between illegal (or legal)immigrants from mexico trying to enter arizona and palestinian refugees wishing to return to their homes and land. none.

      • eljay
        eljay
        December 20, 2013, 4:07 pm

        So the new native born from a majority in … Israel: now does that give them a right to democratically regulate their territory … ?

        I have no problem with a secular, democratic and egalitarian Israel – a state of and for all Israelis – regulating its territory for the benefit of all of its Israeli citizens.

        But Israel is a supremacist “Jewish State” – a state devised, founded and maintained as a state of and for Jews; a state that favours Israeli Jews AND non-Israeli Jews over both non-Jewish Israelis and the non-Jewish refugees it has the duty to repatriate as Israelis.

        The racism lies with Zionism, Zio-supremacists and the supremacist “Jewish State”.

        Any state behaving in a similar manner to Israel is / would be just as hateful, immoral and unjust.

      • annie
        annie
        December 21, 2013, 4:50 am

        a right to democratically regulate their territory as its recognized by the UN,

        speaking of UN recognition: In December 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 194 ‏(III‏), which stipulates, in Article 11, that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.”

      • talknic
        talknic
        December 21, 2013, 5:11 am

        bilal a ” … Arizona, stolen from the Spanish..”

        Arizona was legally annexed to the US by a formal agreement. The adoption by the US of the legal custom of acquiring territory by an agreement was instrumental in that legal custom passing into Customary International Law

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        December 21, 2013, 9:20 am

        The Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo did not, for all that it resulted from an extremely aggressive American policy, result in major ethnic cleansing – it seems that many Mexicans were reasonably happy to assume an American identity, partly because they expected better protection from raids on the part of Philip Munger’s Comanche ancestors – maybe Philip is the King of Arizona if all had their rights? The wars of those days were a kind of four-way contest between American, Mexican, Native American and (declining) British interests, with the Americans showing the greatest skill in dividing and conquering, though at terrible cost to themselves.
        I know that many Mexicans think that the GH Treaty was so unjust that it is not morally binding and should be reversed, but tearing up a treaty requires, to say the least, stronger arguments than pressing for one’s rights, as Palestinians still do, in the absence of any treaty or agreement between at least nominally independent and sovereign powers.
        The whole nature of moral principles is to apply in all cases, so what is due to all victims of ethnic cleansing everywhere is the same: re-enfranchisement in the old country unless that right has been given up in the course of accepting a new citizenship, restoration of identifiable property or adequate compensation. The descendants of invaders and marauders may have rights based on a valid treaty. In the absence of a valid treaty their rights based on birth in the territory have to be somewhat secondary, I think. Locke’s discussion of conquest in his Second Treatise implies that they have no rights at all, though I would think that to avoid what he calls ‘endless trouble’ they should be accorded birthright conditionally on their readiness to recognise the rights of, and make the fairest possible agreement with, those whom their ancestors had dispossessed.
        Meanwhile, I sometimes imagine a scene from fifth century Britain with a Welsh or English homestead being burned to the ground with everyone in it except one child hiding in the bushes, watching another child of the other race gloating, and then imagine that I am descended from both these characters.

  5. Keith
    Keith
    December 20, 2013, 4:56 pm

    “…denies Israel’s right to maintain the preferential immigration policy that makes it a refuge for Jews.”

    Refuge for Jews? There are few Zionist myths more blatantly dishonest than this. How many Jews or their parents came to Israel because the Zionist kept them from going to their first choices, the US and Britain? Same with the last batch of Russian Jews (and non-Jews) where the legislation permitting their emigration specified only Israel as the final destination. Far from being a refuge, Israel has had to recruit Jews to keep Israel a Jewish majority state.

  6. Peter in SF
    Peter in SF
    December 21, 2013, 2:09 am

    The BDS movement’s call for “respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties” denies Israel’s right to set its own immigration policy.

    Back in 1999, NATO called for respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Kosovar refugees to return to their homes and properties. It backed up that call with actual bombing of Serbia. I don’t remember hearing anyone say that NATO was denying Serbia’s right to set its own immigration policy.

    So does the movement’s call for “recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality”, which presumably denies Israel’s right to maintain the preferential immigration policy that makes it a refuge for Jews.

    Beinart presumes too much. There is an obvious comparison with the Federal Republic of Germany, which maintains a preferential immigration policy that makes it a refuge for persons of German ethnicity — and it has taken in millions of them from Eastern Europe. A call for recognizing the fundamental rights of the non-ethnic-German citizens of Germany to full equality does not deny the country’s right to maintain the preferential immigration policy that makes it a refuge for ethnic Germans.

  7. Peter in SF
    Peter in SF
    December 21, 2013, 4:57 am

    Marc Ellis writes:

    The last thing the Jewish prophetic can abide is the possibility of calling a state democratic and Jewish when it permanently oppresses another people.

    Why not just “other people“? Why write “another people“? Maybe this terminology is intended to dignify Palestinians, but it gets the hasbarists into red-herring arguments about whether or not Palestinians constitute “a people”, as if there’s some difference between oppressing “a people” and oppressing “people”.

    Henry Siegman had an otherwise good piece today in Haaretz:
    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.564527
    where he uses the same expression:

    I challenge critics of the BDS movement to identify another democracy from among those that do not hold another people under near-permanent occupation (no other democracy does) that receives the massive economic, military and diplomatic support lavished on Israel.

    … there is no more egregious violation of elementary democratic norms than a predatory occupation that denies an entire people all individual and national rights, confiscates their properties, bulldozes their homes and dispossesses them from their internationally recognized patrimony east of the 1967-border.

    At least he mentions “individual rights”, but Siegman suggests that as a member of “a people”, an individual from Jaffa, say, has a “patrimony” that’s somewhere else.

    BDS supporters would have had no reason for their initiative if Israel had not been favored for that support even as it disenfranchises and dispossesses another people under its occupation.

    Academics love to talk about “the other”, and here Siegman essentially calls Palestinians that, when he could have just said that the Israeli government disenfranchises and dispossesses people. Siegman lived in Germany during the 1930s, when the government there was disenfranchising and dispossessing Jews, including members of his own family. Would he accept it if someone said that the German government was doing this to “another people“?

    • Sibiriak
      Sibiriak
      December 23, 2013, 2:27 am

      Peter in SF:

      Why not just “other people“? Why write “another people“?

      Perhaps because:

      1) Palestinians self-identify as a people with national aspirations. See Rashid Khalidi, “Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness”:

      As the Palestinians see it, this [current oppressive occupation] is part of a gradual but so far inexorable century-old process whereby the Palestinians have been removed from more and more of their ancestral homeland, their property and their patrimony seized, and THEIR VERY IDENTITY AND EXISTENCE AS A PEOPLE PLACED INTO QUESTION. Most Palestinians are convinced of the basic validity of this narrative, and in consequence experience deep traumatic anxieties.

      Tragically, most Israelis, and many others, are mesmerized by their own profound fears about threats to the continued existence of the Jews as a people (and therefore of Israel). These fears are rooted in the searing experiences of twentieth-century Jewish history culminating in the Holocaust.

      Such fears seem to blind those in their grip to the fact that the Palestinians are tormented by their own profound existential crisis as a people, one born largely of their traumatic historical experiences suffered at the hands of Zionism and Israel over the past century.

      (emphasis added)

      2) Only “peoples” –not persons– have a right to self-determination under international law. Self-determination is a collective right, not an individual right.

      3) “Two states for two peoples” has been the mantra of liberal Zionism.

  8. Sibiriak
    Sibiriak
    December 21, 2013, 8:02 am

    Marc H. Ellis:

    Jews of Conscience

    What? Ellis & co. have fulsome consciences, but Jews with different political views have no consciences (or defective ones)?

    That smacks of arrogance, and argument ad hominem.

    ———–

    As long as the Palestinians are without their freedom the Jewish prophetic critique of Israel will continue.

    But if the Jewish State stops exercising “colonial and imperial power with regard to the Palestinian people”; if the Jewish State stops negating Palestininian self-determination and statehood– then what? The Jewish State would stop being subject to the “Jewish prophetic” critique by “Jews of Conscience”?

    A democratic Jewish state is, has become, and can only be a euphemism as long as Palestinians are not free.

    And if the Palestinians become “free”, then a “democratic Jewish state” would cease to be a euphemism and become a real possibility?

    …is, has become, and can only be…

    But not: “always was”.

    Ultimately, Beinart attempts to discipline the Jewish prophetic because he hasn’t gone deep enough to dispense with the euphemism, “democratic Jewish state.”

    But note: Ellis himself does not dispense with the ideal of a “democratic Jewish state”; he simply wishes to make that ideal more real and less of a euphemism.

    Beinart has a right and a responsibility – as do other Jews – to fight for a Jewish particularity that responds to the deepest impulses of Jewish history.

    Say what? All Jews have a responsibility to fight for “a Jewish particularity”? Which particularity, concretely? What “deepest impulses of Jewish history”? Why?

    Can someone (Walid? lol) interpret Ellis’ cryptic Jewish essentialism for me?

  9. Sumud
    Sumud
    December 21, 2013, 9:00 am

    The BDS movement’s call for “respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties” denies Israel’s right to set its own immigration policy.

    Is he kidding?

    Right of return is a human right – not a privilege or generous act that Israel is being asked to bestow on strangers.

    Why is he conflating the two? They are unrelated.

    Beinart isn’t stupid, this is is just more ‘liberal’ zionist contortion, AKA jewish supremacism.

    • annie
      annie
      December 23, 2013, 1:49 am

      palestinians are not immigrants in the land of palestine anyway. that’s an absurdity.

  10. American
    American
    December 21, 2013, 10:34 am

    Every day in every way with every word I read that comes out of the supremist lib zio mouth as ‘entitled’ by virture of being Jew to a state on land taken from another people –the sicker I get of these people.

    I am also sick of the all the dodges and use of comparasions like ‘colonial’ to describe Israel as if it is similar to historical ‘colonialism and so not unlike past colonialism.
    You can call Israel a ‘colonial enterprise’ only if you describe it as a Ethnic/Religious/Race based Colony.
    Only similar type of seperatist Colony I can think of in modern times was the Jim Jones cult religious colony–but even in that case they didnt steal the land their commune sat on.

    ‘Liberal, ‘colony, ‘democratic—all of that is pure crap, the pilpul of zionist who think people can be confused by the putting out of a trillion useless words and tortured illogical excuses for a criminal racist that stand the basic facts on head.
    Well its not working.
    All of the Beinarts are ‘obvious’ to anyone who knows even the basics facts and has even two brain cells functioning.

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