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Beinart’s Jewish double-bind: Support oppression or you’re out of the family

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Even when he’s serving up a soul-crushing ultimatum, you have to give Peter Beinart some credit. By comparing Israel to “your violent, drug-addicted brother,” but saying that if you call the cops– i.e., support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)– to “make them change their destructive and self-destructive behavior” you are putting your “personal morality” ahead of family loyalty, he’s enraged Israel defenders and anti-Zionists alike. In this way, he becomes the personification of the untenable situation he writes about.

“When you boycott Israel, or reject the ideology on which it was founded [my emphasis], you are estranging yourself from much of the Jewish world” runs a pull-quote from Beinart’s Haaretz piece.

On social media, the paper’s slug and headline is: “For Jewish BDS supporters, personal morality trumps Jewish solidarity.” Those words were likely not of his choosing but they crystallize the implicit threat of ostracism and accusation of treason.

The ideology on which Israel was founded assigned Jews the goal of a nationalist state on Palestinian land. Palestinians were erased from all the founders’ early visions: Theodor Herzl wrote about Jewish policemen arresting Jewish sex workers, while Chaim Weizmann told the 1919 Paris peace conference he envisioned a state that would be “as Jewish as England is English.”

To maintain our good standing inside the Jewish family, Beinart implies, we need to swallow all that — even though this ideology entered Jewish life only recently, and deeply divided Jewish communities in the decades before 1948.

Equality and justice are universal values, not personal or selfish ones. As Beinart knows well, they’re often claimed to be “Jewish” values; he emphasizes that Jewish BDS activists “see their embrace of BDS as an expression of their Jewishness.”

As a person, not just as a Jew, I’m offended to hear that opposing segregation, colonialism, exile, massacres and the ongoing brutality necessary to repress a captive indigenous population, or supporting the internationally mandated return of refugees, means I’m selfishly imposing my personal morality at the expense of “family consensus.”

Of course, there’s been much debate as to whether values like justice and civil rights are really part of the Jewish tradition. I don’t want to add to our self-flattery; all I know is what I was taught when I was little. Fighting oppressors is a common thread running through so many of the stories Jewish children are raised on, whether it’s Pharoah in the fictitious Passover story (Jews were never slaves in Egypt), the Maccabees and zealots who resisted Greek and Roman-era tyrants like King Herod, through the Middle Ages and Inquisition up through the Tsar and the Nazis.

It’s a narrative designed to instill a strong desire for justice: a universal, not “Jewish” value, but one we have embraced. Jews were heavily represented in the Russian revolution, civil rights and the antiwar movements, as we are now in the push for justice in Palestine.

The only way for anyone raised on this tradition to support the kind of ethnic supremacism now on full display in Israel is through denial, extreme filtering of facts, and the construction of an elaborate counter-narrative that morphs oppressors into victims (of hostile Arab neighbors, anti-Semitism, “terrorism,” “double standards,” campus radicals, Barack Obama, and ultimately, the Palestinians who didn’t and still don’t accept a Jewish state on their land). Something needs to puncture that; Beinart’s essay helps, whether he wants it to or not.

Beinart perhaps unintentionally shows that American Jewry has created what family therapist Gregory Bateston identified as a “double bind“:

an emotionally distressing dilemma in communication in which an individual (or group) receives two or more conflicting messages, and one message negates the other. This creates a situation in which a successful response to one message results in a failed response to the other (and vice versa), so that the person will automatically be wrong regardless of response. The double bind occurs when the person cannot confront the inherent dilemma, and therefore can neither resolve it nor opt out of the situation.

So Jews who have been taught to hate oppression but taught that we must support Israel are in a classic double bind, of our own making:

Double binds are often utilized as a form of control without open coercion—the use of confusion makes them both difficult to respond to as well as to resist…

Further complications arise when frequent double binds are part of an ongoing relationship to which the person or group is committed [my emphasis].

The double bind, Wikipedia explains, is not a “no-win situation,” but worse: “the subject has difficulty in defining the exact nature of the paradoxical situation in which he or she is caught.”

Beinart accepts the burden of the double bind onto himself, so he deserves sympathy instead of pure castigation. Though he also rationalizes the ostracism of pro-BDS Jews by the Jewish establishment, saying they

“are excluded for taking positions that rupture the bonds of peoplehood. Israel is the world’s only Jewish state. It contains close to 40 percent of the Jews on earth.”

Fine. Who are these kinfolk whose connection I’m supposed to prize above my concerns for equality and my hatred for tyranny (that I first absorbed in Hebrew school)?  The religious zealots storming al Aqsa? Half a million West Bank settlers? The 48% of Jewish Israelis who want to expel the remaining Palestinians, or the 79% who say Jews should be favored under Israeli law (which matches the Rome Statute definition of apartheid)? Or the 95% who supported the 2014 Gaza massacre? I may not have a lot in common with them.

Israel will blow up everybody’s spot, that’s been one of my expressions. In the Middle East, it’s been a poison pill: it blew up the long, happy relations between Arab Jews and Palestinian Muslims and Christians in Palestine during the many centuries before 1882. It blew up European promises of Arab autonomy for the Middle East after World War I, when the British carved off Saudi Arabia and handed it to the only family willing to acquiesce to their Balfour Declaration promise of a Jewish home in Palestine. It blew up entire Jewish communities throughout the Arab world, who were transferred to Israel following the 1947-48 Nakba.

Israel has blown up Beinart’s spot. He would like to see it as a glowing ideal, the redemption of the Jewish people’s history. But he’s uncomfortable insisting on preferential treatment for Jews, even as he claims it’s necessary. He wants to stand up for the “Jewish values” exemplified by young BDS activists, but he has to warn them that they’re estranging themselves from the Jewish community. He wants to be a progressive leader, but he understands many people will never consider Israel consistent with progressive values.

Israel blew up Bernie Sanders’s spot: he wanted to avoid foreign policy but in the end couldn’t avoid taking the heat for at least gesturing in the direction of Palestinian equality and dignity. It’s blown up the spot of Barack Obama, John Kerry, sundry official spokespersons and their likes: they know what’s going on, but they’re not allowed to say what they know. It’s got to sting for the first black president to pay endless lip service to our “shared values” with a hyper-militarized Jim Crow society. And yes, a lot of young Jews arguing with relatives at Passover last weekend had their spot blown up by Israel — as has anyone whose family or friendship connections have frayed or severed over support for Israel.

But more than anyone else, Zionism and Israel blew up the Palestinians’ spot. Whatever pain and disruption to relationships takes place among Jews who reject Zionism and support BDS, it’s minuscule compared to the price paid by Palestinians, all 11 million of whom live in either exile or under Israeli apartheid and occupation. A new essay on this site by Nada Elia is an important challenge to Jewish ex-Zionists like myself. It’s time, she says, for the Palestine solidarity movement to stop celebrating Jewish dissent. She is so right: all this focus on what Zionism has done to Jews has the perverse effect of making Jews victims once again, while erasing the people whose suffering is at the center of the problem.

We Jews need to stop wallowing in our own issues. Our family dysfunction isn’t that interesting to others, particularly the ones we’re oppressing. And we need to extinguish the offensive exceptionialism.

The paradox is that the Jewish establishment desperately needs to be challenged — by Jews, of course, young ones in particular — which means it will be exactly the kind of insular Jewish conversation that Palestine activists rightly find infuriating. We’re the ones who need to call the cops on our abusive sibling. But we need to do it without patting ourselves on the back, without dragging the rest of the Palestine solidarity movement into our family dysfunction.

Liberal Zionism is the solar plexus of the occupation. Making it untenable to be any kind of a “liberal” or progressive while supporting a supremacist, segregated state; and getting American Jews to “break up with Israel” could be one of the quickest and most powerful tools in cutting down what now props up Israeli apartheid. Once it’s become impossible for the type of (obviously very privileged) Jews who Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton see at Passover — the Michael Chabons of the world — to support or defend Israeli Jim Crow, and it’s just down to the neocons and Christian end-timers, US policy toward Israel might change very quickly. Without the perception that Jewish voters demand this kind of thing, the massive military aid, veto protection at the UN, one-sided “peace talks” mediation might come to an end.  Media coverage would change too. This is already happening, but not fast enough.

This is the main reason that while I lovingly support Jewish Voice for Peace, I prefer to channel my own activism through other groups like Students for Justice in Palestine and the broad BDS movement that have a clear Palestine focus. Still, the communications strategist in me knows the P.R. value of a Chabon defection, or of young IfNotNow activists getting arrested at a “Liberation Seder” sit-in at the office of Islamophobia lobby group Anti-Defamation League. Or of a Broad City episode that skewers Birthright propaganda/mating tours and Israeli militarism from a Jewish perspective. These do more than help protect non-Jewish Palestine solidarity activists from phony antisemitism charges; they show the self-appointed American Jewish leadership that they don’t represent our people’s future. Instead of papering over our objections, we expose them for all the world to see and undermine the myth of solid Jewish support for Israel — which is the basis for US support.

And, not that it should be of any interest to Palestinians, who have much bigger concerns, but I refuse to accept the double bind. I refuse to be read out of the Jewish family just because I reject colonialism and segregation. The burden of moral failure falls entirely on those who support discrimination.

Peter Feld

Peter Feld is a writer, editorial consultant, market researcher and former political strategist at Democratic polling firms. He is @peterfeld on Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram.

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56 Responses

  1. michelle on April 28, 2016, 5:01 pm

    be part of a part
    rather than part of the whole
    G-d Bless

  2. John Salisbury on April 28, 2016, 5:35 pm

    Wonderfully clear thinking here.

  3. Krauss on April 28, 2016, 5:38 pm

    Beinart has always put the interests of tribe above principles. That doesn’t make him the same kind of Zionist as a bigot like Foxman, but in the end, in the final analysis, he’s on the side of Jewish Apartheid.

    It’s been obvious from the start. The shoot-and-cry Zionism has long passed its date. They have no trick left to employ. Nobody is buying their BS anymore.

  4. pabelmont on April 28, 2016, 5:42 pm

    This is definitely NOT a case of “we must hang together or, assuredly, we shall hang separately”. Jews who elect morality in favor of “solidarity” (and being”enablers” of a sick pseudo-relative) need not hang either way.

    And people who reject Zionism-in-practice (all can participate!) can write-in the name “Bernie” (or “Donna Edwards”) on any relevant election.

    “So Jews who have been taught to hate oppression but taught that we must support Israel are in a classic double bind, of our own making”. Well, Jews are asked (or told) to support Israel and to support human rights, and clearly cannot do both. But as noted (by me above) the request (from huge flocks of Jews, true) to Jews to be and remain “enablers” of the criminal Zionism-in-practice (because of some perhaps misguided fealty to some flavor of zionism-in-abstraction) is a request that everyone can refuse.

  5. wondering jew on April 28, 2016, 6:08 pm

    Fictitious passover is the assertion. Fictitious slavery and the link to lack of evidence. My theory, hebrew slave warriors fighting Egyptian wars in the vicinity of Canaan, rebelled and decided not to return with the defeated Egyptian army, instead claiming Canaan for themselves. This theory credits the slavery as factual, but the exodus as mythical. But the exodus was still an act of freedom and the unique identity of these ex slaves became a major motif in the book.

    Dismissing the story in total as Peter feld has done strikes me as deconstructionism to the point of alienation and it is in that vein that I read his anti zionism.

    • Mooser on April 28, 2016, 7:19 pm

      “My theory, hebrew slave warriors fighting Egyptian wars”

      Oooh, that’s lasicvious. Those hunky hebrew slave-warriors in those placketed leather skirts (and those sandals with straps up to the knee). Jewish history as a cheesy sandal-opera. The kind where the hero has a bigger chest than the heroine.

      • Pixel on April 30, 2016, 12:11 am

        Mooser, Mooser, Mooser… never disappear from MW.


    • johneill on April 28, 2016, 10:18 pm

      so your hypothesis rests on what exactly? there weren’t (any significant number of) hebrew slaves in ancient egypt, yet you’re saying there were…
      do you know what deconstruction is? because it’s not pointing out facts.

      ‘fictitious passover is the assertion’ only referenced in passing. way not to deal with the substance of the article.

    • bryan on April 29, 2016, 5:35 am

      yonah: “My theory, Hebrew slave warriors fighting Egyptian wars in the vicinity of Canaan, rebelled and decided not to return with the defeated Egyptian army, instead claiming Canaan for themselves”.

      This sort of debauched and licentious use of language leads American school-children (and adults who ought to know far better) to dismiss evolution and human-induced climate change as mere “theories”. You do not mean theory – you surely mean: hunch / guess-work / mere supposition / speculation. You don’t even offer a suggestion as to where these slaves came from, or when they rebelled and decided not to return.

      Your thinking seems to be that the bible asserts an exodus, but Egyptologists and archaeologists have found not a scrap of evidence to confirm this story so we will reluctantly concede the fictitiousness of Joseph’s coat of many colours, Moses’ cradle in the rushes, the killing of the first born, the parting of the Red Sea, the cloud that led the way, the manna from heaven, the tablets of stone, and all the rest, as having no foundation in fact. But the bible repeatedly states that we were slaves freed by divine intervention, so we must have been. QED.

      Finkelstein and Silberman (backed by many other studies) assert that the Hebrews emerged out of Canaanite society within the central hill country around 1200 BC, with “no sign of violent invasion or even the infiltration of a clearly defined ethnic group. Instead, it seemed to be a revolution in lifestyle. In the formerly sparsely populated highlands from the Judean hills in the south to the hills of Samaria in the north, far from the Canaanite cities that were in the process of collapse and disintegration, about two-hundred fifty hilltop communities suddenly sprang up. Here were the first Israelites.”

      So also no Joshua, no walls of Jericho, no city of David, no David and Goliath and probably no unified kingdom of David. But what remains is so much more precious – the prophetic writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel prescribing the necessity for justice, peace and righteousness. And we all know where they would have stood on the Occupation.

      • Mooser on April 29, 2016, 1:04 pm

        “You don’t even offer a suggestion as to where these slaves came from, or when they rebelled and decided not to return.”

        Maybe not, but I bet “Yonah” could win any on-line role-playing war-game with a troupe of “Hebrew slave-warriors”.

    • Keith on April 29, 2016, 4:44 pm

      YONAH FREDMAN- “My theory, hebrew slave warriors fighting Egyptian wars in the vicinity of Canaan, rebelled….”

      Xena, the Warrior Princess, was Jewish? Who knew?

      • wondering jew on April 29, 2016, 7:04 pm

        My speculation regarding hebrew slave soldiers is based on the following:
        People are usually reticent to admit they are the offspring of slaves or the offspring of foreigners, thus the claim of slavery is on its face believed as is the foreign origin of the Hebrews , a word translated as coming from the other side of the river referring to the Euphrates by way of egypt.
        The common male origins versus the lack of common female genetic origins indicate a force of soldiers who populated with the indigenous women.
        The verses of Exodus regarding: lest they become plentiful and add themselves unto our enemies and ascend from the land, is indeed the true short story of what occurred: a time of war and a population transfer.

      • Mooser on April 29, 2016, 10:53 pm

        “My hallucinations and erotic fantasies regarding Hebrew slave soldiers is based on the following:”

        My speculation that only Jewish men were allowed to make beer is based on the words “he brews”.

      • Mooser on April 29, 2016, 10:58 pm

        “Xena, the Warrior Princess, was Jewish? Who knew?”

        Cool! If she was American, we could call her a “JAWs”

      • MHughes976 on April 30, 2016, 6:20 am

        Yonah, do you know Eric Cline’s popular and award-winning ‘1177 BC, the year civilisation collapsed’? Not too contrary to liberal Zionist sensibility, I would think. There clearly was some readjustment in the mid-1100s, with Gaza and much of the coastal strip becoming Palestine, which I think must be a Hittite-derived name, and the highland areas becoming proto, very remotely proto perhaps, Israelite. There was still a system of indirect Egyptian rule, of which stories like the Donation of Gezer in II Kings 9 are traces. Nothing wrong with a bit of speculation. My speculations always make the place quite multicultural.
        There was mention in the article of Herod as if he had been widely resisted by Jews, but I think his religious policies won a lot of support. He may have been better than most rulers over history in making citizens of different religions and races feel secure.

  6. Mooser on April 28, 2016, 6:21 pm

    “So Jews who have been taught to hate oppression but taught that we must support Israel are in a classic double bind, of our own making”.

    God forbid we should get in a battle of wills with our parents over Zionism.

    • Citizen on April 29, 2016, 2:45 pm

      Disinherit the windy? No more intestical succession?

      • Mooser on April 30, 2016, 12:10 am

        “Disinherit the windy? No more intestical succession?”

        Exactly. We all have such great expectations.

  7. ritzl on April 28, 2016, 6:47 pm

    A brilliant bookend to Ms. Elia’s article.

    Is it just coincidence that both of you posted simultaneous, insightful, dovetailing articles, or is something changing environmentally outside and/or organically inside the movement that is driving this mutually-supportive introspection?

  8. JWalters on April 28, 2016, 7:13 pm

    Peter Beinart will be emotionally healthier by aligning himself with justice, and getting his emotional nourishment from other people who are also aligned with justice. Leave the double bind, and say a prayer for those you leave behind.

  9. Dan From Away on April 28, 2016, 7:50 pm

    @ Peter Feld: Mad respect.

    “When you boycott Israel, or reject the ideology on which it was founded [my emphasis], you are estranging yourself from much of the Jewish world” runs a pull-quote from Beinart’s Haaretz piece.”

    “The ideology” Beinart is referring to is called political Zionism.

    I wonder why Beinart didn’t just identify it outright. It seems to me many Zionists are deeply conflicted about being called Zionists as reflected in a recent MW post wherein Jodi Rudoren when asked if she was a Zionist said: “I do not participate in that label”.

    The core component of political Zionism is this: Herzl’s “conclusion” that antisemitism is universal, ever-expanding and untreatable.

    This central belief, that Jewish people can never be truly safe or fully accepted in any society except one founded on Jewish exceptionalism located in historic Palestine is the essence of “the ideology” that Beinart is saying cannot and must not be rejected.

    Let’s not wander from or be distracted from elevating this cental tenet into the popular discourse.

    Let’s focus a steady beam on this foundational plinth of political Zionism and ask our elected officials, such as Barak Obama and Joe Biden and John Kerry as well as candidates such as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, as they bloviate endlessly that we (the USA) must support Israel unquestioningly if they even realize that as they are saying so that they are actually abetting the Zionst world view of the Other that says that they and their constituents are irredeemably antisemitic.

    Do they even realize that as they mouth Zionist propaganda they re-indict themselves and their own culture?

    No Palestinian needs to read any of this. No Palestinian needs to be educated as to the profoundly obtuse composition of political Zionism. But the rest of us do.

    View posters related to historic intra-Zionist/Israeli discord here:

    • peterfeld on April 29, 2016, 10:34 am

      Thank you @Dan!

    • Mooser on April 29, 2016, 1:01 pm

      ““When you boycott Israel, or reject the ideology on which it was founded [my emphasis], you are estranging yourself from much of the Jewish world” runs a pull-quote from Beinart’s Haaretz piece.”

      I ate a couple of rashers this morning. Goodbye, Columbustein!

    • Citizen on April 29, 2016, 2:52 pm

      At the AIPAC Conference in 2015 Beiden said, closing his speech, that Israel must always be fervently supported by America because it is an insurance policy/safe haven against (eternal) anti-semitism everywhere, including right here in America.

      • inbound39 on April 29, 2016, 6:51 pm

        What Biden said can simply be discounted as a rationalization and justification for America continuing its support for a known Criminal State. The statement totally denies Israel’s reality and America’s knowledge of what is obviously going on that is so unacceptable. Biden simply sanitised the Special Relationship because it needs a damned good wash…’s looking grubbier by the day.

  10. cirillograno on April 29, 2016, 2:06 am

    Thanks for this excellent piece. This is such an important distinction especially as the anti Semitic furore rages through the Labour Party in the UK.

  11. jon s on April 29, 2016, 5:10 am

    Regarding the developments in the British Labour Party:

    An excerpt:

    Anti-Semitic anti-Zionism is not “criticism” of the occupation and the settlements. It is so much more. It cruelly distorts the very meaning of Israel and Zionism until both can be forced into the categories, tropes, images and ideas of classical anti-Semitism. In short, that which “the Jew” once was, a collective malevolence, the Jewish state now is. The old racist ideas about “the Jew” as an evil force, full of blood lust, all-controlling but hidden, and the only obstacle to a better, purer, and more spiritual world, can be thrown at the Jewish state.
    Anti-Semitic anti-Zionism has a political program: to abolish one state in the world, the little Jewish one formed after the Holocaust.
    Anti-Semitic anti-Zionism has a global social movement: to boycott, divest from and sanction one state in the world, Israel.
    Anti-Semitic anti-Zionism has a discourse: not a rational criticism of particular Israeli policies but a spectral representation of Israel as the essence of evil, a ”Racist-Imperialist-Apartheid.”

    • eljay on April 29, 2016, 7:23 am

      || jon s: … The old racist ideas about “the Jew” as an evil force, full of blood lust, all-controlling but hidden, and the only obstacle to a better, purer, and more spiritual world, can be thrown at the Jewish state. … ||

      Racist ideas about “the Jew” should not be thrown at the “Jewish State”. But neither “the Jew” nor the “Jewish State” is an excuse for oppression, colonialism, supremacism, (war) crimes and a general disregard for human rights and international law.

      || … Anti-Semitic anti-Zionism has a political program: to abolish one state in the world, the little Jewish one formed after the Holocaust. … ||

      Israel should continue to exist. Religion-supremacist “Jewish State” has no right to exist. It never did. There’s nothing anti-Semitic about justice, accountability and equality.

    • bryan on April 29, 2016, 9:49 am

      You are absolutely right, Jon s, that virulent, appalling and terrifying anti-Semitism persists to this very day. For an absolutely horrifying example see the response to an article slightly critical of Trump’s wife: This is old-fashioned right-wing anti-Semitism, based on “old racist ideas about “the Jew” as an evil force, full of blood lust, all-controlling but hidden”.

      This is entirely and utterly different from what is visible in the British Labour Party. Let’s run through the main incidents:

      (1) In February, the party announced an inquiry into a club at Oxford University, following “a decision by the club to support Israeli Apartheid Week, which seeks to highlight Israel’s “ongoing settler-colonial project and apartheid policies over the Palestinian people”. Some MPs complained and “a co-chairman of the club, Alex Chalmers, resigned earlier this week, claiming a large proportion of members “have some kind of problem with Jews”. He alleged that some members had expressed support for the Islamist group Hamas.” Sounds to me very much as is charges of anti-Semitism are being raised simply because some students are backing Palestine. One friend of Israel complained that comparisons between Israel and apartheid-era South Africa were “a grotesque smear and the Labour party should dissociate itself from them”, whilst others protested that Israeli Apartheid Week promotes a “one-sided narrative, seeking to dismantle the only majority-Jewish member-state of the United Nations”. They argued that in “a climate of rising anti-semitism, we have a duty to oppose initiatives that foster an intolerant political culture which intimidates Jewish students”. In other words, whilst Israel controlled the narrative and the world acquiesced in the Occupation, Jewish students were happy: now the debate is turning and pro-Palestinian voices have a little more traction, they have suddenly become deeply intimidated. But this is not rising anti-Semitism – this is simply the slight redressing of a balance of power within a battle of ideas. See

      (2) In March, Labour suspended (for a second time, an activist who tweeted stupid nonsense about Hitler being a “Zionist god” and Jews having “big noses”. Infantile, below contempt, play-ground taunts and highly counter-productive (many Jews are traditional Labour supporters) but the Labour Party took very prompt action (her suspension came within hours of a complaint). The very fact that such an incident received press attention suggests that this is either a very isolated incident or if the tip of an iceberg then it is a small one, far smaller than the ice-sheets that regularly characterise Muslims and Arabs as wife-beaters, violent and murderous fanatics, and blacks as idle, drug-addicted, criminal and poor parents. See

      (3) Labour MP, Naz Shah in 2014 posted on Facebook a graphic of Israel’s outline superimposed on a map of the US under the headline “Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict – Relocate Israel into United States”, with the comment: “Problem solved.” The argument was that Palestinians could get on with their lives, Israel was already a 51st state, and America could save on $3 billion a year spent on weapons for Israel. There was no mention of the word Jew, but clearly this represented insensitive use of social media, and any suggestion, if only tongue-in-cheek, that the forced exile of Palestinians from their homeland could be resolved by relocating Israelis outside their home is unprincipled. But bear in mind that the post was made at a time when she was incensed by Israeli intervention in Gaza, before she was appointed as a parliamentary candidate, and that she fulsomely apologised for any offence her tweet had caused. She also lacked the elite upbringing and education many MPs have access to, having been deserted by her father at age 6, when he ran off with the neighbour’s 16 year-old daughter, was then sent to Pakistan at age 12 to avoid her mother’s abusive partner, whom her mother then killed, resulting in 14 years in gaol. Naz was forced into an arranged marriage whilst in Pakistan. See

      (4) Ken Livingstone (former Labour mayor of London and current member of Labour’s Executive Committee) was also suspended after coming to the support of Naz Shah, claiming there was a “well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticises Israel policy as antisemitic”. In the process he made ill-advised comments that Hitler had supported Zionism “before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews”. This caused uproar from one MP who felt that this was a gross insult to Zionism, though Ken explained he had certainly not saying Hitler was a Zionist but that he favoured the Zionist approach of German Jews migrating to Israel. He could have gone further and said that there were Zionists who initially looked favourably on growing hostility to Jews in Germany and that they were ready to negotiate the Haavara Agreement with Germany which played a major role in building up the yishuv’s human and physical capital in Palestine (as well as undermining attempts by non-Zionists to organise an effective boycott against the infant Nazi regime). Was it insulting to the memory of Holocaust victims to say this was the policy of a madman, or would it be better to say it was the policy of a fully sane man? Was Livingstone making political capital out of the Holocaust or was he abusing someone else’s copyright? It might have been more diplomatic for Livingstone to avoided all mention of the Holocaust in the context of rising anti-Semitism, but Ken has never done tact and has often relished controversy. A long-time supporter of gay rights, he once delighted in saying the Conservative Party was “riddled” with homosexuality, “like everywhere else”. He has never been shy of criticising Israel, calling Ariel Sharon “a war criminal” responsible for the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre and strongly condemning the 2008-9 assault on Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. See

      To conclude:
      (1) accusations of institutional racism within the Labour Party are absurd. Numerous MPs and bigwigs are Friends of Israel (and sometimes themselves Jewish). The above instances highlight the number of party figures coming forward and demanding strong action against any perceived incidents of anti-Semitism. The Jewish community in the UK is political active, very vigilant and not backward in coming forward when it perceives any slights have been made against it. Traditionally the British left has been heavily influenced by Jewish intellectuals and journalists, and played a major role in resisting both British fascism (Mosleyism in the 1930s and later the National Front and British National Party) and European Fascism in general.
      (2) as a left-leaning, progressive and at times even radical party, Labour has inevitably attracted many members (like Jeremy Corbyn, Gerald Kaufman, George Galloway) who are strongly supportive of Palestinian rights, but the Party also has a very strong and well-funded Friends of Israel group, which paid for 60 MPs to visit Israel between 2001 and 2009.
      (3) the more Israel has lost its battle for legitimacy the more it has fallen back on accusations that opposition to its policies is motivated by anti-Semitism, and this has been exacerbated by its adventures in recent years in Gaza and Lebanon, which inevitably provoke anti-Israel protests which can easily be portrayed as anti-Semitic (under the new definition). Over recent decades the UK’s Moslem population has steadily increased and now substantially outnumbers its Jewish population. Moslems are archetypal Labour supporters (in the same way that Jewish immigrants once were), and understandably feel strongly attached to the Palestinian cause. The battle which has persisted between the Labour right (tending to be pro-Israel) and the left (tending to be pro-Palestine) has always been in the background but is being exploited at the current time in order to undermine the recently installed Corbyn leadership. Hence the apparent increase in headline-hitting incidents, which do not in fact represent any upsurge in Jew hatred within the party.

      • jon s on April 30, 2016, 5:35 pm

        Just to clarify a point: I posted the link to Alan Johnson’s article because I thought it had some good points.
        However it seems to me that ringing the Anti-Semitism bell in all these cases may be overkill: both statements , about moving Israel to America, and about Hitler being a Zionist, may be equally idiotic, but not necessarily Anti-Semitic. We should be careful about crying wolf.

      • Mooser on May 1, 2016, 12:10 pm

        “Just to clarify a point….”

        Oh, frabjous day! Pope “Jon s” is granting antisemitism indulgences!

        Okay, we got a guy with citizenship in two countries (‘US’ and ‘Jewish in Israel’ which is even better.) who is going to tell us about antisemitism (or “Anti-Semitism”) Nobody knows the trouble you’ve seen, “Jon s”.

    • Mooser on April 29, 2016, 1:39 pm

      “Anti-Semitic Anti-zionism blah blah…” “Jon s”

      Too bad, “Jon s”. It’s not antisemitism, it is simply normal political speech and propaganda. Is there some special reason why “Israel” is exempt from certain political forces, like speech?

      “Jon s” there’s an obvious contradiction: If antisemitism is such a powerful and destructive force, why do you think claiming to be a “Jewish State” (of all things) will grant you an immunity from it?

      You are so phony about antisemitism, “Jon s” a regular Briar Rabbit. “Don’t through me in the antisemitism patch! Do anything you want, but not the antisemitism patch!”

      Here’s the basic formula: Since, at one time or another, antisemites have accused Jews of anything and everything as individuals or as a group, any accusation, any indictment against Zionism will resemble in some way a spurious antisemitic indictment, and is therefore invalid!! Cute little universal-immunity trick, isn’t it?

      • Mooser on April 29, 2016, 2:14 pm

        For blogs dealing with Zionism in England, try “Jews sans frontieres” and Tony Greenstein’s blog.

  12. yourstruly on April 29, 2016, 7:29 am

    Don’t put personal morality above loyalty to family is what police association officials preach to the cop who decides to publicly disclose a fellow officer’s criminal transgressions, thereby deviating from the so-called blue code of silence. And this is the mentality that Peter Beinart hopes to foster in the Jewish community? Never mind the mass murdering of Palestinians being perpetrated by Jewish settlers in Palestine, cause it’s tribal loyalty that counts? And what is Beinart’s perversion of personal responsibility to be called, the “Jew code of silence?”

  13. eljay on April 29, 2016, 8:04 am

    Like all Zio-supremacists, Beinart is a hypocrite who believes it’s OK to set aside justice, accountability and equality for the good of his favoured brand of injustice, immorality and supremacism, but not for some other brand and especially not for any brand that would negatively impact him or his co-collectivists.

    Like all Zio-supremacists, he stupidly (and immorally) advocates undermining rather than upholding the protections of human rights and international laws to which all people – including him and his co-collectivists – should be entitled.

  14. Ossinev on April 29, 2016, 8:12 am

    @Jon s
    Thank you for sight of the excerpt. As a UK national I can categorically state that the “furore” over alleged “anti – semitic remarks” and the alleged growth in so called “anti – semitism ” in the UK stinks to high heaven as a concerted conflation campaign ( anti – Israel / anti – Zionism = anti Semitism ). All no doubt IMHO orchestrated by Hasbara Central in a desperate attempt to counter the growing impact of BDS. Incidentally for the Tory party anything which has the potential to discredit the Labour Party, ie the left , is a bonus so of course they are busy up front and behind the scenes stoking the fire.

    With regard to the specific allegation against Ken Livingstone by John Mann that he is a “Nazi Apologist” – this is a disgusting and grotesque slur and it is Mann who should be kicked out of the Labour Party and any pub he walks into. Livingstone has his faults and that includes shooting from the hip on occasion but he is not and has never been a racist or an anti – semite. He is justifiably critical of Israel and Zionism and the interesting thing in this “debate” as far as I am concerned is that the Yahoo`s comments last year about the alleged “Mufti” advice which included inherently the concept of Hitler considering the expulsion of the Jews to Palestine did not lead to him being branded as a “Nazi apologist “.

    As I said this “story” stinks to high heaven as being a hasbara classic. In the UK Media disgracefully it has displaced IMPORTANT relevant national and international news on the Hillsborough Football Stadium Disaster inquiry , the EU referendum debate, the election circus in the US etc. As with the majority of hasbara classics it will backfire as it has the effect of making people more aware of the I/P situation and will further enlighten them as to the ugly reality of what Zionism has visited on the native Palestinans.

    Incidentally the abuse of Mr Livingstone by John Mann has generated a petition which has gathered thousands of supporters.

    • just on April 29, 2016, 10:30 am

      “Incidentally the abuse of Mr Livingstone by John Mann has generated a petition which has gathered thousands of supporters.”

      Hope that it gathers many more!

      I just read this headline in Haaretz:

      “Conservative London Mayoral Candidate Forced to Run Nasty Campaign Against Muslim Frontrunner”

      Just below it:

      “Zac Goldsmith is badly trailing Labour candidate Sadiq Khan in the polls. With the May 5 election just a week away, it is time for extreme measures.”

      …The main issues facing the mayor of London are the housing shortage, which is pushing working- and middle-class Londoners out of the city, and the high cost of public transportation. In recent weeks, however, the campaign has focused largely on Conservative Party allegations that Goldsmith’s main rival and the race’s front-runner, Labour MP Sadiq Khan, has links to Islamic extremists. The Labour Party has responded by calling the Conservative accusations a “smear campaign” that is stoking Islamophobia, but they have dominated much of the coverage. …

      … A son of the late Jewish financier Jimmy Goldsmith, he never had to work for a living — his father left his children an inheritance of 1.2 billion pounds, and Goldsmith married into the Rothschild dynasty. He seems to have spent most of his 20s traveling and bouncing between universities and think tanks, before becoming editor of an environmental magazine owned by his uncle. A graduate of Britain’s most elite school, Eton, Goldsmith shares with fellow Etonians Prime Minister David Cameron and the current Mayor of London Boris Johnson the knack of seeming comfortable in any surroundings. …

      …To win, Goldsmith needs to retain Johnson’s strongholds. One of these is the city’s Jewish community, where Khan has also been campaigning energetically. Jewish concerns are easily linked to Goldsmith’s security agenda.

      “It is incredibly depressing” Goldsmith says about the intense security surrounding the building where the interview is taking place. “I’ve done public meetings where the majority of the audience are Jewish and there’s an anxiety etched on everyone’s face and people just want to know that London is not going to become like Paris,” he says, adding that the French capital has become a symbol of Jewish flight.

      “They must be going through the same thought process that people were going through in the 1920s and 30s in parts of Europe, and it’s unbelievably depressing. They’re packing their bags and they’re leaving Paris.” There’s no indication that a similar thing may be happening in London but Goldsmith insists: “I know that there are many, many people here in London who love London, whose roots are here in London, who worry about the future of London, who don’t take the relative harmony we have in London for granted.”

      And just as in any election with significant numbers of Jewish voters, even one that is focused on local problems, Israel becomes an issue. “Israel matters” in this race, Goldsmith says. He has been to Israel and is open about his affinity with the country, though “I would never pretend to be an expert,” he adds.

      “Yes. I love Israel, I’m excited by Israel, the relationship between London and Tel Aviv is an important one and for the community here that, I think, matters. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people here have strong links to Israel and represent miniature bridges between the two countries, that’s the only democracy in that part of the world — I think those bridges are important.”

      Israel is another issue on which he believes he can criticize Khan, who in recent meetings with Jewish groups has said he is against boycotts and sanctions of Israel but had in the past been in favor of sanctions.

      “Khan has shown incredibly bad judgment,” Goldsmith says of his rival’s dealings in the past with radical Islamists, back when Khan was a human-rights lawyer. But something about Goldsmith’s character doesn’t allow him to go all the way in attacking the front-runner, as other politicians would not have hesitated to do.

      “I’ve never suggested Sadiq Khan has extreme views, I’ve never said that, I’ve never even hinted. I’ve no idea of what his views are. But I do say he’s shown poor judgment in not standing up and not challenging people who mean to do us harm,” Goldsmith says.

      “Zac is really a nice guy,” says one Conservative Party insider who asked not to be identified by name and who seemed hard-pressed to say anything else positive about Goldsmith. Many in the party have questioned whether Goldsmith has the killer instinct necessary to win a tough election.

      One thing that Goldsmith has not done is to trade on his name and his roots in an attempt to attract more Jewish voters. “My Jewish roots have not been a particular factor in this campaign,” he says, though he claims that visiting synagogues, as well as Sikh temples and other places of worship, was one of the most enjoyable parts of the campaign for him. “You don’t enjoy everything in a campaign,” admits Goldsmith, a nice candidate being forced by his party to run a nasty, and most likely also a losing, campaign.”

      read more:

      Of course this is an Anshel Pfeffer article, but this witch hunt is so transparent…

      • MHughes976 on April 30, 2016, 1:13 pm

        Naz Shah made humorous reference to (I think) a fantasy map in which Israel has been moved to the United State ‘with pocket money to spare’ out of the enormous current subsidy. The language and context were not, as far as I can ascertain, at all threatening, though apparently she used the Nazi-style word ‘transportation’, which seems quite insubstantial as proof of actual Nazi sympathies. If she had used the Zionist word ‘transfer’! There is usually a serious idea behind political jokes but this, a fantastic projection of the ME on to the West, is an entirely acceptable satire on the actuality of Israel as, among other things, a projection of Western power and Western ideas on to the ME.

  15. Kathleen on April 29, 2016, 9:12 am

    This does explain why Jewish involvement with the pro justice and human rights Palestinian movement is relatively new (last 10 years or so) A good thing. Although always important to point that new development out. Many Jews financially or politically have kept the wall of silence intact over the decades about a decades long human rights issue.

    The possibility of being rejected by family or family members is a tough one. However as many of us did long ago if you had a racist member in your family standing up to that racism ultimately helps them. Standing up to the illness as an addicted and abusive brother can ultimately help them.

    • Mooser on April 29, 2016, 3:31 pm

      “The possibility of being rejected by family or family members is a tough one.”

      Are we talking being disagreed with in an argument or being written out of the will?

      You know, it occurs to me, (and don’t say I said this cause I shouldn’t) that when Jews wanted to abandon dietary restrictions and ritual, being rejected by family and friends didn’t stop them.

      And in my own generation, when we wanted to, well, sort of loosen up the old sexual restrictions and have pre-marital sex, or cohabitate, or marry non-Jewish people, or divorce them, the rejection of our family and friends didn’t slow us down a jot. We were ready to risk it to get ours!

      But confessing to antizionism? Heck, that’s harder than telling your parents you just got your non-Jewish HS girlfriend pregnant. For antizionism, they ‘ground’ you for a month!

      • Kathleen on April 30, 2016, 6:54 pm

        Fighting with my racist father (towards blacks) starting at the age of 14 did not pose a risk that I was going to get booted out of my family. And it did not indicate in some way that I might be somehow approving of a genocide (holocaust)

        While I have never understood why many of my Jewish friends could not look at the I/P issue in a fact based way. Why they were willing to put their heads up where the sun does not shine on this issue. This piece as well as others written by Phil etc try to explain the willingness to stay in the dark or deny..or both.

      • Mooser on May 1, 2016, 12:36 pm

        “did not pose a risk that I was going to get booted out of my family.”

        Hold on. Has there been any advocacy by Zionists (or other Jewish religious authorities) encouraging (or demanding) punishing offspring or family for Jewish antizionism?
        Articles in Tablet or Commentary like ‘How to keep your rotten antizionist kids in line with a conditional will’?

        But this does give me a very good idea for avoiding conversations on I-P issues. If anybody starts, I just say: “I can’t even talk about that stuff, any criticism of Zionism would just kill my parents, (may they rest in peace.)!”

  16. niass2 on April 29, 2016, 9:42 am

    Yes. And before I even raise the issue you have to know they’re not going to listen. And its always worse when your in laws are insane and your own parents are not so crazy. In the end we wait for them to die, sorry to be so blunt. Religion is fading away. If one like me wanted to be religious, its hard to know why. And if you have an adopted child from a non Jewish background, and that background is one that involves a lot of war, wouldn’t one be crazy to ask that adopted child to become religious only to find he/she was adhering to a vegetable law involving promotion of more war? If one is an alcoholic, its better to dump family relations that trigger one to drink. This is similar, why have “Family” that are just hate filled fools. Dump them for some real people, and enjoy life instead. Many people have “Family” in many ways, not biological. Look up “The Family Dog in relation to the Grateful Dead. That is a “Family.”

  17. annie on April 29, 2016, 11:54 am

    thank you peter, this is an excellent read. and thanks particularly for your reference nada’a article — really important conversation.

    As a person, not just as a Jew, I’m offended to hear that opposing segregation, colonialism, exile, massacres and the ongoing brutality necessary to repress a captive indigenous population, or supporting the internationally mandated return of refugees ….

    It’s a narrative designed to instill a strong desire for justice: a universal, not “Jewish” value, but one we have embraced.

    yes, justice is a universal value.

  18. Danaa on April 29, 2016, 2:44 pm

    This comment is in part directed to and inspired by Bryan above:

    So if the whole story of the Israelites’ illustrious beginnings was a myth, one that was written down – as many historians believe – by the Babylonian exiles, what do these stories say about the morality of those who made them up? I will concede imaginativeness, story-telling talent and the ability to create fables that reflect on the human condition possessed by those early scribes. i will also concede strong devotion to a single god as the paramount value – one that transcends all others. But what do the biblical tales of origin say about the craving for justice? about universal rights?about fighting oppression from within not only without? the message is clearly not coherent – something uplifting here, something depraved there. Kind of like the human condition mixed with strongly tribal themes, coupled with lots of excuses about why good people can do very evil things (god demands it, tribal loyalty uber ales, weakness of heart, the devil made us do it etc. etc.).

    Even the prophets – selective readings aside – were first and foremost about devotion to god first, the tribe next and universal justice somewhere down – way down – the line.

    Indeed it took the advent of Christianity to distill the universal message from the angry old testament and filter out the tribal loyalty part. Which of course is difficult, making christianity at its core – suffer some cognitive dissonance, because well, it’s hard to keep the jewish tribe out of the story without compromising much of its essence.

    It took the jews of the US to cleanse the jewish saga of its more oppressive, primitive and reactionary elements, and come up with the so-called “Jewish values’. This was done by washing away the mindless devotion to god. Alas, American jewishness, bound with the supposed fight against oppression and a craving for justice, also suffers cognitive dissonance, for the “values’ as supposedly embedded in the vision of the prophets is still tribal-centric. There was no universal god for the prophets, much as many like to read their rantings/ravings/preachings, only an Isralite god. one that’s keen to smash all other gods, as brutally as necessary.

    Alas, today in the American and israeli context we see both cases of dissonance come full circle. With many devoted Christians taking the bible literally and American jewry delighting in the redemption brought about by the ultra-oppressive state of israel while preaching obedience to the familia. Both communities are brushing aside the inherent contradictions embedded in their respective congregations.

    the result is that we have the likes of beinart and jeff goldberg and ADL on the jewish side. What we have on the christian side are the evangelicals and dominionists etc. etc.

  19. German Lefty on April 29, 2016, 5:15 pm

    “When you boycott Israel, or reject the ideology on which it was founded, you are estranging yourself from much of the Jewish world.”
    – So, Beinart thinks that every Jew should support Zionism simply because most Jews do. Interesting reason. All parents caution their children against giving in to group pressure: If most of your peers jumped off a bridge, would you follow suit?
    Beinart’s plea totally reinforces the stereotype that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their actual home country. This shows how Zionists fuel anti-Semitism.

    “As a person, not just as a Jew, I’m offended to hear that …”
    “Of course, there’s been much debate as to whether values like justice and civil rights are really part of the Jewish tradition. I don’t want to add to our self-flattery.”
    “It’s a narrative designed to instill a strong desire for justice: a universal, not Jewish value.”

    – I love these statements.

  20. inbound39 on April 29, 2016, 6:14 pm

    How wonderful to see someone else using an analogy for Israel that I use myself when describing Israel to others……A Violent Drug Addict.

    I view Israel as the Worlds Addict. Like in Addiction,Israel is arrogant,self-centered,Paranoid,aggressive. It maintains control by lies and deceit and intimidation and harassment. It steals and defrauds and plays verbal tennis with habitual frequency. It destroys all it comes into contact with and repeats the same behaviour over and over again expecting a different outcome even though it knows that same behaviour has never got it friends or anywhere before. It fits Israel to a T. Even to the point of it losing all its friends and support and people wanting little or nothing to do with it.

    Here in NZ , Addiction has cost the taxpayer 5billion dollars per annum. Soon Israel will cost the American taxpayer far more than $5billion,with which it will use to pursue its dysfunction just like an Addict. When the term Control is used a problem exists. Air Traffic Control because a problem with Aircraft exists or Road Traffic Control because a problem with Vehicles exists. The Occupation is implemented as a means to Control Palestinians because Israel wants to steal their Land and the Palestinians rightly do not want that to happen. Like an addict Israel has a need to Control and like an addict it wants what it wants when it wants it. It does it by violence,intimidation and harassment and imposes its will. Israel…..the only Addict in the Middle East. Its cost to the World for the past seventy years alone is staggering and the American Government says we should continue supporting this dysfunction.

    • talknic on April 29, 2016, 9:18 pm

      ” It steals and defrauds and plays verbal tennis with habitual frequency. It destroys all it comes into contact with and repeats the same behaviour over and over again expecting a different outcome”

      It doesn’t care about a different outcome. The aim of the Zionist Colonization of Palestine is to keep acquiring territory in order to keep the vile scheme rolling over, without which Israel would become a bankrupt failed state

      • inbound39 on April 30, 2016, 8:00 am

        I get what you are saying talknic and understand that. I should have clarified that more by saying it expects people to keep liking it and acts self righteous and affronted everytime it is questioned why it keeps stealing land…to which it answers….What theft?. It is exactly like when you ask a drunk if they have a problem with alcohol….they say….nope, I just rip the tops of the bottles and drink it…no problem at all. Israel is basically insane and needs putting in a global rehab for ten years or more.

      • talknic on April 30, 2016, 10:54 am

        inbound39 “I should have clarified that more by saying it expects people to keep liking it”

        Israel is a byproduct of the Zionist Colonization pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes don’t care.

        “It is exactly like when you ask a drunk if they have a problem with alcohol….they say….nope, I just rip the tops of the bottles and drink it…no problem at all. Israel is basically insane and needs putting in a global rehab for ten years or more”

        The drunk is in denial. The Zionist Colonization of Palestine is a scheme of which denial is only one of many ploys to keep the ball in the air

  21. Pixel on April 30, 2016, 12:31 am

    BRAVO, Peter Feld!
    EXCELLENT piece!

  22. diasp0ra on April 30, 2016, 7:26 am

    Excellent article that cuts through a lot of the BS. Beinart is considered a liberal champion of Israel, and I view him as one of the effective “liberal” fig leafs for Israel in US media. But no matter how much he tries to couch his positions and the position of Israel in liberal terminology and language, at the end of the day he still supports preferential treatment for Jewish citizens of Israel over non Jewish citizens.

    Like Abunimah once said, the problem isn’t in marketing Israel, the problem is in the product itself. Yet all efforts are put into enhancing the marketing while refusing to acknowledge that there is even a problem in the product.

    I imagine with time Beinart will be forced to abandon his position when Israel becomes more and more of a pariah state, as we are slowly witnessing. I never imagined someone like Bradley Burston to call Israel Apartheid a few years ago, but there is a point where you can’t handle the dissonance anymore. The increasing popularity of JVP and other Jewish groups is living evidence of this.

    • Mooser on April 30, 2016, 12:04 pm

      ” Beinart is considered a liberal champion of Israel,”

      Oh, it looks that way now, but just wait until Beinart attains his majority, and can be responsible for his own political and ethical judgements.

      • Citizen on May 1, 2016, 4:20 pm

        Well, he’s only, what, age 47? His parents came from South Africa–what did they teach him?

  23. Mooser on May 1, 2016, 11:24 pm

    “His parents came from South Africa–what did they teach him?”

    That there is strength in numbers?

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