Jeremy Ben-Ami comments on Beinart’s NY Times OP ED:
A Reflection on Peter Beinart’s New York Times Op-Ed
March 19, 2012 at 3:35 pm
By Jeremy Ben-Ami
Peter Beinart’s op-ed in The New York Times this morning will undoubtedly raise more than blood pressure and eyebrows in the Jewish community.
It immediately raises pressure on J Street and other organizations over giving a platform to Peter after he has explicitly called for boycotts and other civil protests against Israeli settlements and settlers.
So let me say up front and with resounding clarity: J Street is thrilled to host a passionate Zionist like Peter Beinart at any time and any place – even as we disagree with some of the actions that Peter is calling for.
It’s critical for the Jewish community to hear Peter’s clear diagnosis of the problem Israel is facing. The country’s Jewish, democratic future is at risk from, as he puts it, “the jaws of a pincer.” Israel is trapped between those on the right who claim all the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean as legitimately Israeli and those on the left in the Global BDS movement who question the legitimacy of Israel itself even within the pre-1967 Green Line.
I share Peter’s sense of acute urgency over the need to end the occupation, establish borders for Israel and resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution. If we don’t, both left and right will push Israel into a “one-state nightmare” – forced to choose between its Jewish and its democratic character.
I also agree with the distinction Peter draws between the legitimacy of Israel within the Green Line and the illegitimacy of what’s happening over the Green Line.
I don’t, however, agree with Peter that pressure on settlers and settlements through targeted boycotts and other measures will lead them to change course.
I think the ideologues driving the settlement enterprise – not necessarily the settlers themselves – will never change their views. Pressure will only reinforce their belief that the whole world is against them, causing them to dig in even more deeply.
I believe that the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement should focus on borders, not boycotts, as it is a recognized border that will save Israel’s democratic and Jewish character. …
JD: His position reflects openness, even when there are points of disagreement. It also reflects appreciation for those aspects of Peter’s perspective he considers very important to a peaceful outcome – i.e. defined borders, Israel as a Jewish democracy left intact, “ending the settlement enterprise”, etc.
He ends by saying: “I couldn’t be more excited that the J Street Conference provides space for voices that may disagree with J Street on this point. We are not about to apply an ideological litmus test to ensure that every speaker at our conference agrees with every position we take.”
This is quite different than throwing him under the bus, is it not? Or, am I missing something?