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Young Jews won’t cry over the end of the Zionist dream, Beinart says

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Peter Beinart has been doing great work lately. Last Friday he had a long piece in the Forward on Gaza that step by step took apart every rationalization for the brutal collective punishment of 2 million people and said American Jews are responsible. “Our community’s complicity in the human nightmare in Gaza should fill every American Jew with shame.”

And two weeks ago at J Street, Beinart ran down the American Jewish establishment for its support for the settlement project that has destroyed the two-state solution, for its Islamophobia, for its destruction of American political dissent on Israel. And he called for Democrats to demand that the next presidential nominee state, Not a penny for your illegal settlements.

At that appearance he also said that when the American progressives call for a one-state solution, this will become a very powerful force in U.S. politics; and offering the Palestinians a state without Jerusalem is like saying there’s a country in Westchester but you can’t go to Manhattan.

I offer extensive excerpts of Beinart’s J Street speeches just below, but it is important to acknowledge that Beinart’s power lies in the fact that he is himself a member of the Israel lobby inasmuch as he is a supporter of a Jewish state, but is angrily dissenting from the leadership and therefore helping to fracture the rightwing orthodoxy of official Jewish opinion. Sadly, people pay more attention to Jews than non-Jews, and to Zionists than anti-Zionists. That’s our discourse.

Just as important: Beinart has grown more outspoken because he senses the presence of a youthful Jewish multitude who are to his left, who are non- or anti-Zionist. They are pushing him left. Because those young Jews are listening to Palestinians, and they believe in equality.

Here’s Beinart on the American Jewish community’s Islamophobia:

Very often in my experience, progressives in the American Jewish community self censor themselves. There are things that they think and believe in the privacy of their hearts and minds that they are too afraid to say… First of all, that means acknowledging… the American Jewish community is knee-deep in anti-Muslim bigotry. Many of the most prominent anti-Muslim bigots in American public life are funded from prominent people in the American Jewish community. I’m talking about Frank Gaffney and Pamela Geller and the Gatestone Institute. We are very deeply implicated in this wave of bigotry which is making life so difficult for Muslims in the United States.

On the need to get American politicians to finally take a stand against settlements:

We need Democratic politicians who are willing to say, if I’m elected president, not one cent of U.S. money will go to support the settlements. [huge applause] And if we have Democratic leaders in Congress like Chuck Schumer who will will fight against the Democratic president who wants to do that– as Harry Reid was when he betrayed Obama when he did the outlandish thing of suggesting there should be a Palestinian near the 67 border– then we need different kinds of Democrats in congressional leadership

On the American Jewish responsibility for the horrifying conditions in Gaza (on top of Hamas and the P.A.’s responsibility):

You know who else bears blame? The American Jewish community bears blame. Because we have been a critical part of a strategy which has been utterly ineffective in weakening Hamas but has devastated the people of Gaza. … We need to elect politicians who are willing to talk not only about what Israel is doing in a particular moment when people are going to the fence, but about a completely different strategy vis-a-vis Gaza, one that actually recognizes that destroying the people of Gaza is not necessarily the best way to move them toward the recognition of Israel’s right to exist.

On the need to pressure the Israeli government, and the American Jewish refusal to do so.

There was always this argument in the American Jewish community that if you only reassure the Israeli government more and more they’d be more and more willing to come to a solution. We’ve seen that that’s been fundamentally profoundly disproved. The Israeli government, and this would be true with a more centrist government, will be satisfied with the status quo.

The only way to move the Israeli government from the status quo is by pressure. There’s destructive pressure and constructive pressure. Right, The pressure has to be nonviolent and it should be in support of Israel’s right to exist.

The notion that giving the Netanyahu government more and more– on this Jerusalem move, we’ve seen what Netanyahu does, there’s just been an acceleration of this settlement process.

Young people don’t care about having a Jewish state. (37 minutes in). They want equal rights for Jews and Palestinians.

I think that the discourse of the two state solution is fading and there is a very wide generational chasm, on the left among Americans, among Palestinians and among American Jews.

I am deeply invested in the two state solution. I think it’s the most practical outcome. I also believe as a Jew in a post-Holocaust world, that I do want there to be one country in the world that has a special responsibility for the protection of Jewish life. (Applause) But I will tell you that when I talk to younger people, if they become convinced that what is on offer is one state, they will move toward saying, The fundamental issue for us is basic human rights. (Applause) And if we cannot secure basic human rights for Palestinian people in a two state solution because the Israeli government through its settlement actions with the support of the American Jewish community has made that impossible, then, you want to have a debate about a one-state solution, we’ll have a debate about the one-state solution. We will support one secular binational state with equal rights for all. (Cheers) That’s not my view, but when that horse leaves the barn on the American left, it will be very very powerful…. And we are ever closer to that tipping point, in which people will say, If we have to have one-state solution, I have very little doubt that a very large percentage of younger American Jews and younger Americans in general will choose what they see as human rights and equality even if it means the end of the Zionist dream.

On the necessity for a viable Palestinian state. Here Beinart said that the Israeli offer to Palestinians is to have “glorified autonomy” in about half the land of the West Bank, Areas A and B, with no capital in East Jerusalem, no discussion of the right of return, and no discussion of Gaza either, and Israeli troops in the Jordan Valley.

If you want to call that a state, go ahead. Call it an empire for all you like…. When people talk about the two state solution, we’re talking about a viable Palestinian state. (applause)

That means it has to have a capital in Jerusalem, because having a Palestinian state without a capital in Jerusalem is like creating a country in Westchester that can’t get into Manhattan. [Cheers] It means that you cannot be virtually bisected by the settlement of Ariel, which stretches halfway thru the West Bank. It means that you can’t have soldiers permanently on 25 percent of the West Bank. And it means that you cannot pretend that the Palestinian refugee issue does not exist.

The horse has left the barn on the two-state solution. You can see it in the response of Israeli lawmaker Yoel Hassan from a centrist party; he pushes back against Beinart and says he’s dreaming.

My sense is that Beinart wants to be a Jewish community leader who can speak for the non-Zionists of IfNotNow; he has moved a good ways from where he was just five and six years ago, propelled by the anti-Zionist grassroots, among them many Palestinians. Now he is helping to create a progressive opposition storyline inside the Jewish community, along with Natalie Portman and Bernie Sanders. They are doing more to move Jewish opinion than anyone, and that will mean: accepting the end of the two-state solution.

And while it’s unfair that he should count more than non-Jews and anti-Zionists, that’s the way things are structured in American leadership. Years back, Beinart was mainstreamed for saying very similar things about the American Jewish leadership to what Walt and Mearsheimer had said about the lobby, and were smeared for saying. Because Beinart used to speak at AIPAC, is a strongly-identified Zionist, and had supported the Iraq war, that credential worth more in the craven establishment than even his Rhodes scholarship.

So he will help to break up the old bigoted order, which is all we’ve ever wanted, an open debate. Look at his tweet to Alec MacGillis of Pro Publica after MacGillis tweeted angrily about the number of Palestinians shot in the legs and maimed at the Gaza border.

Alec–you’ll get attacked for this tweet. Don’t stop. One of the things that sustains right-wing dominance of the Israel debate is that many non-Jewish progressives are too scared to speak their values. Enter this debate. We need you.

Thanks to James North.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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24 Responses

  1. Maghlawatan on April 30, 2018, 2:03 pm

    “Sadly, people pay more attention to Jews than non-Jews, and to Zionists than anti-Zionists. That’s our discourse.”

    This issue can no longer be managed in-house. That is a fact. Self regulation has resulted in Gaza. It is 40 years too late to do something about the settlements. Nobody had the balls when it mattered. There is no point in giving up cigarettes when the cancer has spread. The goys will break Israel because Jews will not.

    They got the guns but we got the numbers.

    • ritzl on April 30, 2018, 7:49 pm

      Agree completely. What’s happening in Gaza now is so ghoulish that it’s a binary. You’re either sickened/appalled by it and anyone who has to do so much as scratch their head about the morality of ongoing, unrepentant mass murder, or you’re a participant (enablers being participants). This has moved so far past a “haggling for hearts and minds” phase that it’s hard to contemplate that that was ever a method.

      One either believes mass murder is acceptable or one does not. Not a difficult choice imho.

      • Maghlawatan on April 30, 2018, 8:34 pm

        Shooting peaceful protesters on the head is ghoulish but Israel’s scorched earth policy in Gaza is the purer evil.

        Judaism is about choices like kosher or not. It works on the level of ordinary time. Zionism operates on the level of the historical record. And it is out of control.

        They never addressed the refugees. At the postwar conference in Lausanne they stonewalled everyone . They ignored all the UN resolutions. They invaded Gaza repeatedly. They occupied it and they never ever took responsibility.

        Now 1948 is back.

    • JLewisDickerson on April 30, 2018, 11:02 pm

      “People just want to be free!” ~ said Buddy Miles (Hendrix’s drummer), whose mind was goin’ through so many changes, he was goin’ right out of his mind (after Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady”)!

      • JLewisDickerson on April 30, 2018, 11:07 pm

        Misty In Roots – Poor & Needy 12″

        Deliver the poor and needy, out of the hands of the wicked.
        Deliver the poor and needy, out of the hands of the wicked.
        Jah, Jah
        Foundations of the earth are out of course
        Man so blind, they neither see nor understand
        They walk in darkness
        They walk in darkness
        Jah, Jah
        Deliver the poor and needy, out of the hands of the wicked.
        Deliver the poor and needy, out of the hands of the wicked.
        Jah, Jah
        Jah standeth in the congregation [of the mighty]
        Jah rules among the gods.
        How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?

      • Mooser on May 1, 2018, 11:44 am

        I was there.

  2. Maghlawatan on April 30, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Nobody in Israel will listen to Beinart either. He is Orthodox but he is american so he never got the Hebrew educational brainwash and he doesn’t live in the Sabra bubble. He reminds me of a line from pulp

    But still you’ll never get it right,
    cos when you’re laid in bed at night,
    watching roaches climb the wall,
    if you call your Dad he could stop it all.
    You’ll never live like common people,
    you’ll never do what common people do,
    you’ll never fail like common people,
    you’ll never watch your life slide out of view,
    and dance and drink and screw,
    because there’s nothing else to do

    Israel cannot be fixed by words or urgent interventions. Zionism has to work its logic out . Groupthink is very hard to reprogram. It will probably be Masada 2.0 and a lot of people may die.

    • JLewisDickerson on May 1, 2018, 2:00 am

      RE: “Groupthink is very hard to reprogram. It will probably be Masada 2.0 and a lot of people may die.” ~ Maghlawatan

      MY REPLY: You virtually took the thoughts right out of my brain. I was planning on returning to the comments under Ofir’s harrowing “Israeli radio host fantasizes about rape and murder of leftist ‘filth’ who called soldiers ‘terrorists’” and say that I have become convinced that Israel passed the existential tipping point some time ago, and the cataclysmic die has consequently been unalterably cast. Click on the graphic below for a taste.

      📷 [ GRAPHIC ] ~ comments under the article “StandWithUs demands that NYU show ‘zero tolerance’ for BDS violations of students’ rights” at, dated April 27, 2018

      • Maghlawatan on May 1, 2018, 9:12 am
        “In his 1953 masterpiece, “The Captive Mind,” the Polish poet and dissident Czeslaw Milosz analyzed the psychological and intellectual pathways through which some of his former colleagues in Poland’s post-war Communist regime allowed themselves to be converted into ardent Stalinists. In none of the cases that Milosz analyzed was coercion the main reason for the conversion. They wanted to believe. They were willing to adapt. They thought they could do more good from the inside. They convinced themselves that their former principles didn’t fit with the march of history, or that to hold fast to one’s beliefs was a sign of priggishness and pig-headedness. They felt that to reject the new order of things was to relegate themselves to irrelevance and oblivion. They mocked their former friends who refused to join the new order as morally vain reactionaries.” – See more at:

         “During the war we were taught that Japan, the land of the Gods, was a righteous, divine country and that America was an evil, barbaric country. We didn’t actually believe this, but merely followed along, thinking that, since there was no such thing as a just war , such poisonous, simple minded rhetoric was a way to whip up a state of furious belligerence in the people. Again, we had doubts as to whether or not Japan would be capable of guiding the Greater Asia c0-prosperity sphere.. We did not think we would be defeated. It was not that we were so convinced of victory we never thought of defeat. It was simply unbearable to contemplate it, and because we could not imagine what our fate would be afterward we shielded our eyes from the possibility and went on believing in certain victory.
        People of the future will find it strange that during the war we so easily accepted an education smacking of distorted self esteem and hostility that advocated such preposterous ambitions, but for us the reasons seemed compelling”

        Diary of writer Yamada Futaro, October 1945, quoted in “So Lovely a country will never perish” p 152-153

  3. eljay on April 30, 2018, 2:50 pm

    … if we cannot secure basic human rights for Palestinian people in a two state solution … we’ll have a debate about the one-state solution. We will support one secular binational state with equal rights for all. (Cheers) That’s not my view …

    So, basically, he’s saying: If we have to, we’ll support “basic human rights”…but I’d rather not.

    His motivation isn’t “basic human rights”, it’s the fear of losing “Jewish State” and if reason won’t convince others to do what needs to be done to secure it perhaps fear will.

    • on April 30, 2018, 9:13 pm

      So true Eljay – their lust for a Jewish Israel precludes them from embracing humanity/equality.

      • Maghlawatan on May 1, 2018, 3:07 am

        It isn’t even Jewish. It’s nihilism with a kippa.

  4. pabelmont on April 30, 2018, 6:11 pm

    I think Beinart is, in fact, supporting one state, and has made his peace after the death of two-states. His dream is hard for him to forget, hard for him to say goodbye to, but he has done both.

    Soon he’ll be for full BDS. Or so I fondly hope.

    • Maghlawatan on May 1, 2018, 3:30 am

      I wouldn’t be surprised to see Beinart doing the dabka in a few years , ya’ni. The Dabka is like the opposite of Zionism

      • echinococcus on May 1, 2018, 12:36 pm


        The Zionist Beinart will dance anything as long as the Zionist invader goons are allowed to continue squatting somewhere in Palestine. He only is protesting Zionism’s “unseemly excesses”, not Zionism itself.

        Also, every kind of refuse in human form, including Zionists, has danced the dabke. Kindly provide one reasonable explanation for your claim.

      • Mooser on May 1, 2018, 3:57 pm

        “Also, every kind of refuse in human form, including Zionists, has danced the dabke. Kindly provide one reasonable explanation for your claim.”

        Whatever you might say, “Mag”, say nothing which could possibly, even by the most uncompromising standards, be interpreted as touching on “echin’s” honor!

      • echinococcus on May 1, 2018, 5:38 pm


        I’m fairly sure “honor” has gone out the window long ago. At least mine. You’re free to worry about yours, however, when you attempt your diversions.

    • vporzsolt on May 2, 2018, 6:14 pm

      Yes, I’ve been saying for a couple of years now that within 5 years, Beinart will reject Zionism. Looks like he’s well on his way. He’s just part of a whole movement among liberal Zionist Jews. I myself in the last few weeks have given talks on one state solutions, BDS and critiquing Zionism to different liberal Zionist audiences here in Sydney. Bring it on!

      • MHughes976 on May 3, 2018, 5:53 am

        I can’t see even the beginnings of anti-Zionism in his Forward article. It’s very humane but it’s a plea for 2 states, everything liberal Zs have been saying, to such minimal effect, for decades.

  5. on April 30, 2018, 7:36 pm

    “Sadly, people pay more attention to Jews than non-Jews…”

    You don’t think maybe you should hand this site over to someone else, do you?

    • Maghlawatan on May 1, 2018, 3:23 am

      The latest Gaza porn reminds me of Judge Goldstone. It always comes back to “Back off, antisemites. Jews can handle this”.

      When Goldstone wrote his report on the intentional tageting of civilians in Gaza, Mr J Goldberg called it a “blood libel”.

      When Goldstone recanted Netanyahu joined in

      “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the United Nations on Saturday to retract the Goldstone Report following the regret expressed by former jurist Richard Goldstone regarding the damning report on alleged Israeli war crimes during the Gaza war.
      “Everything that we said proved to be true,” said Netanyahu. “Israel did not intentionally target civilians and it has proper investigatory bodies”

      Another key strand in the Goldstone story was a senior bot telling the goys to back off , that this was an internal matter .
      “When one calls, however, for the boycotting or international sanctioning of Israel or the forcing of its government to adopt policies which are counter to the expressed will of its democratically elected government, even if one believes that one is doing so for the good of Israel, one is locating oneself on the side of our foes, a side that friends need to be wary of.
      If our community will be wise enough to expand the inner tent to make room for a wide spectrum of opinions, debate, criticism, and acts of protest and condemnation, there will be no need for members of our community to find their allies elsewhere, and ones who do so, will be therefore declaring where their allegiance truly lies.
      We are a people who believe that criticism is an act of love and loyalty. We are also a people who believe that there is a criticism out of love, and a criticism which is not.”

      Israel is such a clusterfuck.
      And consider how much progress BDS has made since Goldstone.

  6. on May 3, 2018, 11:33 am

    Though I applaud Peter Beinart ‘s changing positions on Israeli atrocities in the region he has gotten it wrong about wanting presidential candidates to promote no more US monies for Israeli settlements.

    The majority of US government funds being sent to Israel are predicated on deeply entangled agreements between the Israeli military and US military suppliers, which currently force Israeli military projects and requirements to have their US monies funneled back into US military weapons makers. If I remember correctly, this restriction will be somewhat weakened under the latest round of US “foreign aid” to Israel.

    This construct is heavily tied to the massive number of jobs that this weapon procurement process provides for many Congressman’s and Congresswoman’s districts. It is a highly parasitic and symbiotic relationship that to date has been unable to be broken through any of the normal political processes within the US government.

    The actual monies that the US government directs to Israel for the use of settlement projects is rather small if any at all. Most such monies are provided by private donations through Israeli support organizations in the United States.

    As a result, Peter Beinart’s argument is basically a non-starter and should be seen for what it is, a distraction from the real, underlying issue with such funding.

    • annie on May 3, 2018, 12:39 pm

      Most such monies are provided by private donations through Israeli support organizations in the United States.

      not only that, most of that money is funneled through tax deductible charitable organizations, essentially ripping off the american public while building up the settlements. but, if congress recognizes the settlements as illegal, which they are, they could make those donations illegal in the same way it’s illegal to funnel money to hamas or iran and any other entity we’ve sanctioned. in this way, i totally agree with beinart:

      We need Democratic politicians who are willing to say, if I’m elected president, not one cent of U.S. money will go to support the settlements. [huge applause]

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