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Peter Beinart’s False Prophecy

The Crisis of Zionism, his book arguing that the Israeli occupation alienates young American Jews, is sloppy with facts and emotionally contrived

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Lightning Rod

Admired or reviled—but never ignored—how has Peter Beinart created a firestorm with well-worn ideas about Israel and American Jews?

Peter Beinart Responds

The author of the The Crisis of Zionism strikes back at criticism of his controversial new book about Israel and American Jews

“I wrote this book because of my grandmother, who made me a Zionist. And because of Khaled Jaber, who could have been my son.”

So begins Peter Beinart’s new book, The Crisis of Zionism, and already you know he’s off to a bad start. Leave aside the oleaginous appeal to Grandma. The real question is: Someone named Khaled Jaber could have been Beinart’s son?

Sorry if I just can’t get past hello, but this curious little intro tells us something about the methods—factually cavalier and emotionally contrived—of the whole book. Here’s the story: Khaled Jaber is a young Palestinian boy whose father, Fadel, was arrested by Israelis in 2010 for stealing water after being repeatedly denied access to pipes serving a nearby settlement. The arrest—and Khaled’s frantic efforts to reach his “Baba” as he’s being hauled away—were caught on a video and later reported in the Israeli press.

The connection to Beinart is that Beinart’s son also calls him Baba. That’s it. Yet watching the video sparked in Beinart what he describes as a kind of Damascene conversion: “For most of my life,” he writes, “my reaction to accounts of Palestinian suffering has been rationalization, a search for reasons why the accounts are exaggerated or the suffering self-inflicted. … But in recent years, for reasons I can’t fully explain, I have been lowering my defenses, and Khaled’s cries left me staring in mute horror at my computer screen.”

This is disturbing, though not in the way Beinart intends. Many people form their views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on snapshot impressions, often shorn of the most basic context. That’s a shame, but at least most of these people don’t go on to write books on the subject. Journalists, by contrast—and Beinart is a former editor of the New Republic who currently teaches journalism at City University of New York—are supposed to, you know, dig deeper. Get the full picture. Go where the facts lead.

So, you might expect that Beinart would have made the effort to reach out to the Jabers, perhaps even by flying out and meeting them in person. Who is this family in whose name this book is ostensibly written? Are they supporters of peaceful co-existence with Israel or advocates of terrorism? Do they intend to vote for Fatah or Hamas at the next poll? Was Fadel’s arrest as unjustified as Beinart makes it seem? Is it true that Israel deprives Palestinians of their fair share of water rights? Would the Fadels be better off as farmers in a Palestinian state? What was the state of Palestinian agriculture—not to mention education, health, and infrastructure—before 1967?

These are real questions, worth exploring intelligently. The answers might be flattering to Israel. Or they might not be. But you won’t learn a thing about them here. The Jaber family arrives in Beinart’s story on page 1 and exits it on page 3, never to be heard from again. Beinart might think of them (or, perhaps, think he thinks of them) as flesh-and-blood people. But in this book they are merely props in the drama known as Being Peter Beinart, the self-appointed anguished conscience and angry scold of the Jewish state.

* * *

As readers of Tablet are surely aware, Beinart is the author of a June 2010 essay in the New York Review of Books, “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment.” Beinart’s basic thesis was that institutional U.S. Jewry has slavishly followed a right-wing line on Israel at the very moment when younger American Jews are becoming increasingly sympathetic to Palestinians, ashamed of the occupation, and appalled by what Zionism has become.

How many minutes elapsed between the Review publication and the signing of a contract with the publishing imprint of the New York Times I do not know. Clearly it wasn’t long enough. A few months after “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment” first appeared—based primarily on the testimony of a Frank Luntz focus group—a team of scholars led by Brandeis’ Theodore Sasson released an exhaustive survey of American Jewish views toward Israel.

The Sasson study was to Beinart’s thesis approximately what Fat Man was to the city of Nagasaki. A whopping 82 percent of American Jews feel that U.S. support for Israel is either “just about right” or “not supportive enough”—and that’s just among those Jews who describe themselves as “liberal” or “very liberal.” Among those calling themselves “middle of the road,” the figure rises to 94 percent. Regarding the settlements, just 26 percent of even liberal Jews think Israel should dismantle all of them; among moderates, the figure drops to 10 percent. Generationally speaking, there even seems to be a rightward tilt among younger Jews. Consider Jerusalem: 58 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 29 oppose re-dividing it. Just 51 percent of their parents and grandparents feel the same way.

“Political differences on the liberal-to-conservative continuum were unrelated to measures of attachment to Israel,” Sasson and his colleagues noted dryly, adding that these attitudes have pretty much held steady over 24 years of polling. Liberal as American Jews might be when it comes to domestic U.S. politics, on Israel their views tend to be fairly conservative.

To anyone reasonably familiar with the sensibilities of mainstream American Jewry, this finding probably comes as no surprise. How would Beinart deal with it in his book, I wondered? Would the Sasson data at least force him to tone down the thunder of denunciation he had hurled at a “failed” American Jewish establishment that, to outsiders at least, appears to be remarkably (some would say excessively) diverse, robust, well-financed and influential? Would he dial back a little on the notion that an American Jewry that usually votes Democratic is also ripe to adopt the “progressive” line on Israel, too?

Yet Beinart would not be toned down. Findings such as Sasson’s, he wrote, “are misleading because they include only those Jews who identify by religion, and a growing number of the least Israel-attached young American Jews identify only culturally.” (My emphasis.)

Interesting if true. Except it isn’t true. Reviewing the original Sasson study’s statement on methodology, one comes across the following:

“Jewish respondents were initially identified by a question about religion. In addition, two items were asked of panel members of no religion in March 2010: whether respondents considered themselves Jewish for any reason and whether they had a Jewish mother or father. … In total, the sample eligible for analysis consisted of 1,243 respondents, of whom 1,089 were Jewish by religion and 154 were Jewish by other criteria.”

If Beinart wants to argue that the Sasson study should have sampled a greater number of “cultural Jews,” fine. That’s a discussion worth having. But to use the word “only” when he means “mostly” should alert readers that no assertion of fact in The Crisis of Zionism can be taken at face value.

* * *

Beinart’s habit of what is either inexplicable sloppiness or extreme interpretative elasticity turns out to be one of the defining characteristics of The Crisis of Zionism. In fact, one of the challenges of reviewing the book is that it practically demands a typology. Consider a few examples:

Elasticity of attribution:

Describing the effects of Israel’s policy toward Gaza after Hamas’s election in 2006, Beinart writes that “the blockade shattered [Gaza’s] economy. By 2008, 90 percent of Gaza’s industrial complex had closed.” The source of this claim is a study conducted by the IMF—in 2003.

Of omission:

Beinart quotes former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami telling Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman that “If I were a Palestinian, I would have rejected Camp David as well.” Yet Ben-Ami said in the same interview that Yasser Arafat “was morally, psychologically, physically incapable of accepting the moral legitimacy of a Jewish state, regardless of its borders or whatever.” This goes unquoted. I suspect that’s because Beinart found it in The Israel Lobby by political scientists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, which also quotes the first part of Ben-Ami’s statement but not the second.

Of consistency:

Beinart acknowledges that “the populism sweeping the Middle East has unleashed frightening hostility against the Jewish state.” Yet in the same paragraph he writes: “The Egyptian leaders who have emerged in Hosni Mubarak’s wake are not calling for Israel’s destruction, let alone promising to take up arms in the cause.” Maybe Beinart should acquaint himself with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Essam El-Erian, currently head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Egyptian Parliament. “The earthquake of the Arab Spring will mark the end of the Zionist entity,” El-Erian said recently.

Of fact:

Returning to the subject of Gaza, Beinart writes that the Strip “remains a place of brutal suffering.” This, he adds, is the case even after Israel eased its blockade following the Turkish flotilla business in 2010.

Really? Here’s what New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof (whose politics track Beinart’s, but who also visits the places he writes about) had to say on that score in a July 2010 column: “Visiting Gaza persuaded me, to my surprise, that Israel is correct when it denies that there is any full-fledged humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The tunnels have so undermined the Israeli blockade that shops are filled and daily life is considerably easier than when I last visited here two years.”

There’s more of this. Much more. In fact, the errors in Beinart’s book pile up at such a rate that they become almost impossible to track.

Still, the deeper problem isn’t that there’s so much in Beinart’s book that is untrue, but rather so much that is half-true: the accurate quote used in a misleading way; the treatment of highly partisan sources as objective and unobjectionable; the settlement of ferocious debates among historians in a single, dismissive sentence; the one-sided giving—and withholding—of the benefit of the doubt; the “to be sure” and “of course” clauses that do more to erase balance than introduce it. It’s a cheap kind of slipperiness that’s hard to detect but leaves its stain on nearly every page.

* * *

Typically, books that are loose with the facts at least offer thought-provoking arguments. Here again The Crisis of Zionism fails us. Its early chapters—on what a sink of oppression, religious fanaticism, diplomatic foolishness, and moral blindness modern Israel has become—read like a slightly less turgid version of parts of The Israel Lobby. In case you haven’t heard, the settlements are corrupting Israel’s soul. In case you haven’t heard, Israel is a “flawed democracy” within the ’67 borders but an “ethnocracy” in the territories. In case you haven’t heard, then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offer at Camp David in 2000 wasn’t all that generous. In case you haven’t heard, Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama aren’t the world’s best friends. In case you haven’t heard, it’s still two minutes to midnight in the ever-ticking demographic time bomb.

A few months ago I read pretty much the same book by Gershom Gorenberg. But whereas Gorenberg’s The Unmaking of Israel is based on the honest toil of on-the-ground reporting, nothing in The Crisis of Zionism suggests that Beinart ever set foot outside of his study to write this book. “That’s not writing, that’s typing!” Truman Capote supposedly once said of a Jack Kerouac novel. Similarly with Beinart: It isn’t reporting. It’s Googling.

Again, you see it in the small but important details that Beinart misuses. For instance, in making the case that Israel could withdraw from the West Bank without putting its security critically at risk, Beinart commends readers to the authority of former Maj. Gen. Aharon Ze’evi-Farkash, who is quoted as saying: “There is no longer an eastern front.” Translation: Top Israeli brass no longer views the Jordan Valley as a strategic asset because they don’t seriously fear a conventional attack along that front.

There are, however, problems with this reference. You have to realize that the quote is at least eight years old, uttered when the United States appeared to be triumphant in Iraq. You have to realize that it is lifted with little context from a Brookings Institute report by Gal Luft, whose views on the matter are more-or-less the opposite of Beinart’s. You have to realize that Farkash has been outspoken in warning that an independent Palestinian state poses all kinds of security hazards to Israel. And you have to realize that even if Israel were to receive various security guarantees in a prospective peace deal with the Palestinians, it can have little confidence that those promises would be honored for very long.

Then there is Beinart’s hysteria-fueled treatment of the Israeli political scene. His fundamental contention is that the growth of Jewish communities in the territories has effectively faded the Green Line to the point of near-invisibility. This is the sheerest bunk. The reason Ariel Sharon was reluctant to build the security barrier is that he understood it meant drawing a de facto border between Israel and the territories. But he built it anyway, just as he also decided to get Israel out of Gaza. Since then, Benjamin Netanyahu has accepted the principle of a Palestinian state. Beinart offers a lengthy explanation for why Bibi’s June 2009 Bar-Ilan speech was no more than a tactic of diplomatic delay, and maybe it was. But the fact is that Mr. Revisionist publicly accepted the idea of a Palestinian state—and paid no political price for it with his right-wing base.

The real problem for Beinart’s argument is that, in word and deed, Palestinians have repeatedly furnished good reasons for the Israeli (and American) right to argue against further territorial withdrawals, at least until something fundamental changes in Palestinian political culture. I supported disengagement from Gaza as editor of the Jerusalem Post. But it’s hard to argue that the results have been stellar in terms of what a Palestinian state portends. Last year’s murder of the Fogel family, horrifying as it was, wasn’t nearly as disturbing as the public celebration of the killings among Palestinians. By contrast, when a Jordanian soldier murdered Israeli schoolgirls on a little island in the Jordan River in 1997, the late King Hussein personally begged the forgiveness of the bereaved Israeli families. (Alas, by still another contrast, Jordan’s justice minister has demanded the imprisoned soldier’s release, calling him a “hero.”)

None of this appears to disturb Beinart much, except to prompt some glib and equivocal acknowledgment that Israelis live in a less-than-super neighborhood. Indeed, to read Beinart is to appreciate how much mental slovenliness can be contained by the word “but.”

• “Yes, the Islamist groups Hamas and Hezbollah traffic in anti-Semitism and murder Jews, but they gain strength when Israel—by subsidizing West Bank settlement and meeting nonviolent protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets and military courts—discredits those Palestinians willing to live in peace.”

• “Discussing the Hamas charter is important; people should read it. But listening to American Jewish organizations, one would never know that Hamas has in recent years issued several new documents, which are more compatible with a two-state solution.”

• “There is, of course, real anti-Semitism in today’s Middle East. But by too often ascribing criticism of Israel to a primordial hatred of Jews, American Jewish leaders fail to grapple with Israel’s own role in its mounting isolation.”

In 2003, in connection to the late historian Tony Judt’s own contribution to the anti-Israel oeuvre of the New York Review of Books, Leon Wieseltier of the New Republic observed that characterizing anti-Semitic acts as a response to something Jews did doesn’t explain anti-Semitism. It reproduces it. I’m tempted to accuse Beinart of doing the same thing here. I won’t. But Beinart should at least trouble himself to wonder, as Wieseltier also suggested, why the same logic doesn’t apply to other minorities. For example, would Beinart object to an argument that African-Americans are at least partly responsible for white racism because they commit a disproportionate share of violent crime in the United States? Let’s hope he would.

Whatever his answer, Beinart is singularly intent on scolding Israel, like an angry ex who has lost all grip on the proportions of the original dispute. To him, no Israeli misdeed is too small that it can’t serve as an alibi for Palestinian malfeasance. And no Palestinian crime is so great that it can justify even a moment’s pause in Israel’s quest to do right by its neighbor.

Paradoxically, the result of such thinking is an unwitting, but profound, contempt for the very Arabs for whom Beinart claims so much concern. Beinart’s Arabs are almost always characters off-stage, to be trotted out only when—as with the Jaber family—they can serve some trite homiletic purpose. These are Arabs who have no moral agency: They never act; they only react. The very thought that Palestinians need not celebrate suicide bombers or cheer the murder of Jewish children seems never to have crossed Beinart’s mind. They are like some not-fully domesticated animal that requires the ministrations of a horse whisperer lest it trample you underfoot.

This has implications for Beinart’s argument. To typical Israelis, theirs is a country of 6 million Jews faced with the ardent, sometimes fanatic, hostility of 350 million neighboring Arabs (to say nothing of another billion or so non-Arab Muslims) and the contested loyalty of one million of its own Arab citizens. Lebanon is in the hands of Hezbollah; Gaza in the hands of Hamas; Turkey and Egypt—until recently, its only significant Muslim allies—are gradually moving into the column of adversaries. In the past decade, it has had to fend off a steady drizzle of suicide bombers and Kassam and Katyusha rockets over the course of three separate wars. The Arab Spring has become an Islamist winter. Iran has now enriched more than 5,000 kilograms of uranium. Israel will soon have to roll the dice with a military strike or otherwise allow a regime that pledges its destruction the means to carry out that pledge almost instantaneously.

To all this Beinart’s considered reply seems to be: Whatever. Israel, he says, is a “regional superpower” that can dispatch its enemies almost with the flick of a finger. I can’t swear that Beinart never devotes more than a sentence to Iran’s nuclear capabilities (the review copy I used for this essay lacks an index). But I am pretty sure he doesn’t give the subject more than a paragraph, and certainly not a whole page. It’s true he makes a fuller case when writing about delegitimization and anti-Semitism. But here, too, he’s dismissive of the idea that there’s any real problem: “The main reason Israel generates disproportionate criticism from leftist academics, artists and labor unionists, not to mention the General Assembly of the United Nations, is not because it’s a Jewish state but because it’s perceived as a Western one,” he explains. So, now you know that the General Assembly’s 1975 “Zionism is Racism” resolution really wasn’t aimed at the Jews at all.

* * *

In Beinart’s world, then, Israel has no real mortal enemies—other than itself. Would that it were so.

Would that the happy outcome of Jewish statehood after 2,000 years of exile were the elevation of all politics to a form of ethics, and vice versa. Would that Israel be renamed Altneuland, after Theodor Herzl’s fable. Would that Israel’s politicians all be wise and just and its generals all kind and fair. Would that Israel’s enemies answer conciliation with conciliation. Would that Israel’s friends were true in fair weather and foul.

But that’s not how it is. That wasn’t the hand dealt to the Jews of 1948 when they fought—and shot, and killed and, yes, sometimes murdered—their way to statehood. That hasn’t been the deal with which Israelis have lived ever since. Maybe Beinart imagines that his own treasured Zionist legacy—the one he learned on his grandmother’s knee—exists in some sealed compartment, translucent and softly glowing. I suspect his grandmother knows better.

Here, then, is the core problem with The Crisis of Zionism: It is not a work of political analysis. It is an act of moral solipsism. It shows no understanding that the essence of statesmanship is the weighing of various unpalatable alternatives. Instead, the book imagines that politics is merely a matter of weighing “right” against “wrong,” both words defined in exclusively moral terms, and always choosing “right.”

This is the greatest half-truth in which Beinart traffics: the notion that because politics has an ethical dimension, it is therefore a branch—a subordinate branch—of ethics. It isn’t. It is in the nature of political life that 1) its most decisive moments always involve a choice of evils; 2) that choosing the lesser evil still involves choosing an evil; and, 3) most important, that one can never know with certainty that the choice made was, in fact, the lesser evil. To imagine things otherwise is not only to misunderstand the nature of all politics. It is to completely miss the fundamental purpose of the Jewish state, which is to no longer be at the mercy of someone else’s choice of evils. Or, to put it cute: Israel exists so that the Chosen People might suffer a little less as a Choosing People.

This brings us to the occupation. For the sake of argument, let’s allow that everything Beinart says about it—the indignities it inflicts on Palestinians, its corrosive effects on Israeli values and democracy—is true. Does that alone make for a compelling argument for withdrawal?

A serious person would have to give this subject some serious thought. But not Beinart: Such is the cancer of occupation, in his view, that any kind of surgery that removes it will do. That includes his prescription to apply a limited form of the boycott-divestment-sanctions campaign—call it BDS lite—against Israeli settlements, a suggestion that he admits makes him “cringe.” His hope is to draw a line between the condemnation the settlements fairly deserve and what the current BDS campaign unfairly does to Israel as a whole. It doesn’t seem to occur to him that his idea amounts to another squeaky note in the blasting chorus that is modern-day Israel bashing.

* * *

This has been a harsh review. Perhaps not harsh enough. This isn’t because there’s nothing worth reading in the book—I commended Beinart’s chapter on Obama’s education in Jewish radicalism in a recent column—but because there’s a book called The Crisis of Zionism that really does need to be written.

What would such a book be like? It can’t be a Peacenik’s Complaint. It can’t be a Likudnik’s Lament, either.

What such a book would do, however, is understand that Israel today is a country besieged by real enemies and phony friends. It would appreciate that the purpose of Israel is to defend its citizens, not to make Diaspora Jews feel upstanding. It would attend to Israel’s internal dilemmas, social, ethnic, and economic, which lack the cachet of “the conflict” but are arguably of greater potency. It would cock a listening ear to the conversations of the Arab world and consider carefully the implications of present upheavals. It would not treat the choices of the Israeli electorate with derision or elected leaders as mere boobs and knaves. It would be carefully reported and scrupulously fact-checked. As for “the conflict,” it would be sensible that in the event of a return to the 1967 borders, another day would come, and Israel would find that it had merely traded one set of unpalatable realities for another. This is not an argument for or against withdrawal. It is a plea for an intelligent argument, written in something other than a spirit of icy contempt and patent insincerity.

Any takers?


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Jehudah Ben-Israel says:

If Beinard is the manifestation of liberal Jewish American intellectual pursuit, one feels sad about the shallowness of such a class of people, to say the very least.

I wish to make reference only to one element that Beinard and his ilks represent: the total ignorance of the historic and legal foundation of the liberal democratic independent nation-state of the Jewish people.

Never, never have this poster heard or read, uttered or written by Beinard type people about the 4,000 years of uninterrupted Jewish presence in the Jewish people’s homeland; or, about the fact that of all the sojourns, peoples and conquerors who have passed through Eretz Israel (Land of Israel) during this period, the only constant has been the Jewish people.

This historic background of the Jewish people and its affinity to Jerusalem/Zion and the country at the center of which it is located for more than 3,000 years; the cradle of Jewish civilization, i.e. Judaism, has been the justification for the ethical right of the Jewish people, as recognized by the international community, to exercise the universally accepted right of all peoples of national self-determination and independence in the Jewish people’s homeland.

And, it has been these historic and ethical rights of our people to have been the basis for the legal right afforded the Jewish people by the San Remo Conference, 1920; the League of Nations, 1922; and finally, the United Nations that adopted the League of Nations’ decisions of 1922 and enshrined them in the UN Charter, Article 80, as an irrevocable act.

The right, in short, is the setting up of “the national home of the Jewish people” and only of the Jewish people in that part of “Palestine” – a territory, not a nationality or a state of course – that is located between the Jordan River and the Med. Sea with full right of Jews to settle there at will.

Jehudah Ben-Israel says:

P.S. Isn’t it high time the Beinards of the American Jewish community became familiar with Jewish history, including the legal aspect of it, when the convey the impression of using facts and rationale to promote their political agenda that is largely based on “narratives”, i.e. fictional short stories designed for political expediency…??!!

Jehudah Ben-Israel says:

P.P.S. The misspelling of Mr. Beinart’s name was totally unintentional and I apologize for it.

Great review – detailed, well-reasoned and based in the facts and history.

Richard Z. Chesnoff says:

Bravo Bret Stephens – or as they used to say on the Lower East Side – “gut gezokht”!

Fantastic review – someone should take up Stephens’ offer.

jameson says:

Ah, the creaking engine of TABLET’s critical apparatus squeaks along. Yes, there is real silliness in PB’s book, just as there has been real silliness in everything he has written. To take him as the bogeyman of the American Left is also silliness and the kind of silliness that TABLET lives on these days.
Everyone knows that Israel lives in a dangerous neighborhood. But the ways that Israel has made its situation worse–made the evils it has had to choose from even MORE evil–has been covered well by the liberal Israeli press. That Americans don’t read this press is sad and that in focus groups they feel that we’re not doing enough to help the Israeli Right is even sadder. The Israeli and the American Right are not the realists they claim to be. They are shrunken and cynical idealists of the worst order. TABLET should reach beyond the WSJ and Lee Smith for its political commentary. But of course, that’s what its funders want, so who are we to quarrel?

    It’s not that Beinart is proclaimed the bogeyman of the American left, but its standard bearer.  His lantern is supposedly providing the light for those who claim some moral superiority of Progressiveness against an Israel that is supposedly sinking into a moral swamp and dragging the rest of the world’s Jews along with it. 

Simply the best article on Israel and Zionsm that I have ever read.

tedgrossman says:

I agree with last comment. Obviously B. Stephens is not going to write an objective review–he is partisan to the right.

tedgrossman says:

To clarify: I meant jameson’s comment, not adler’s.

bennybenben says:

Fat Man killed some 40,000 people. This is your analogy?

As usual, I think we can safely assume that this campaign of Beinart’s (as previous ones with other Jews uncomfortable with what actually happens when a nation returns to history, reconstitutes its state apparatus, etc.), is as much personal as it is concerned with the Jewish community and Israel. He is trying to solve his problems as much as he is saving Zionism. The only real question is: is he sincere.
We know from the over 40 articles and blog posts so far published, and the hundreds of comments left at them so far, that his logic is twisted, his knowledge of history is not up-to-par, his argumentation is lacking and his willingness to overlook uncomfortable facts and realities would categorize his profession as chicanery.
Of course, he could claim that his assistants let him down but as an honest professional, he knows it his problem.
He has been obsessed with his so-called liberal/progressive prism of what Israel should be – the beloved on a pedestal – that he ignores not only what JBI has noted above, ignores and essentially belittles not only what the Arabs have done and seek to continue to do – no matter what Jews do – and more but he refuses to compare Israel to what other countries do. His search for purity is abject. His undercutting of Israel only elevates the Arab ability to continue their terror, their rejection, their denial, their identity theft, their incitement. For the Beinarts, they will ‘kill’ what they ‘love’ because they exclude or excuse or act paternalistically towards the enemies of Israel, the opponents of Zionism and the haters of Jews – all in the name of some weird Judaism cum liberalism/humanism which is really what is most important to him.

jamal says:

This has to be the mos simplistic, motivated hack job I have ever come across. What the hell has happened to journalism that it is reduced to cheer-leading and demagoguery? Is there no such thing as political analysis anymore? Try and let a stray thought into your brain instead of attacking someone or something just because you don’t agree with it. Pathetic.

jamal says:

And to the other commentators of this review – consider well that your perceptions of Beinart’s dismal understanding of Jewish history and his politicization of facts exists in the same manner that the Arab perspective does of yours. You complain about arab terror, and they complain about jewish terror. you complain about hamas, and they complain about settlers. This intellectually lazy sophistry has taken the both of you to where you are at now; in a vitriolic stupor, lambasted and derided by the rest of the civilized world.

jzsnake says:

Ouch! Bret give Peter another uppercut.

Ranen says:

It is regrettable that this review was assigned to someone associated with the right-wing Jerusalem Post and Wall Street Journal. While accusing Beinart of emotive argument and worse, Stephens indulges the predictably defensive and shrill rhetoric characteristic of those unwilling to be the kind of friends Israel needs most of all–the critical kind. The right wing is justly agitated about the likely soul-searching that will result in the Jewish American community from this book’s important argument about Jewish conscience and coexistence.

    As opposed to what?  A left-wing banner waving supporter?   Bret Stephens makes a legitimate critique of Beinart’s book, and rather than discuss what you agree with or not in his argument, create some straw-man argument about Stephen’s political background. 

When a poll of American Jewish opinion towards Israel is conducted a) by an institution not funded by wealthy Zionists who wish to reinforce their preexisting beliefs (see “Bucky Schvitz” by Eli Valley); b) among unaffiliated Jews who are not on the mailing lists of the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federations of North America, or Birthright Israel; c) in a way that actually teases out the differences in support for “dismantling all settlements” and “announcing 5000 new housing units on the eve of peace talks,” maybe just maybe I will then believe that these polls are worth the electricity they’re rendered with. Until Leonard Saxe calls me and my friends (which, oddly, has never happened), I can only assume they’re stacking the deck to serve their own agenda.

Robert B. says:

Wow. Bravo on this review! It seems the American Jewish community has not totally lost its bearings as many have reacted similarly to Beinart’s self-serving moral posturing and demagoguery. Few have done so with the combination of poise and precision that characterizes this article.

Freethinker says:

Jamal – your moral relativism is what is most pathetic. Hamas and he settlers are not mirror images of each other. If you lack the ability to look past your bias and accept that fact then there is nothing left to say.

yehuda leyb says:

This review reminds me of Afrikaner journalism in the 1980s. Shame on Tablet.

jacob arnon says:

I have been reading many negative reviews of Beinart’s views and I thought this one would bore me.

On the contrary its methodical and critical exposition of Beinart’s position was sharp accurate and anything but boring.

I sincerely hope that Tablet will show give equal time and space to intelligent reviews of Beinart’s book from people not inclined to so quickly write it off pointless, left-wing sentimentality.

jacob arnon says:

So Yehuda thinks that Israel is like South Africa was under the Afrikaaners.

And he has the temerity of implying that the article was factually deficient.

Are you a Stalinoid, or just ignorant?

BTW–I asked my 5,000 Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn friends (the vast majority of whom are Jewish professionals) if they’d ever been polled by AJC, Brandeis or any other Jewish org re: their position on Israeli settlements. I’m still waiting to get one response in the affirmative.

jonathan wornick says:

Brett Stephens – brilliant review. Right on target. Sadly, the people who need to see this never will.

Jojlolo says:

Really interesting to read the comments of pro-Beinart people here: no facts, nor arguments, just ad hominem attacks against the author who is accused of being “right-wing”. What he says and explains has no weight. He is “right-wing” so his opinion has no value. For the left, there can be discussion only if you think like them. Very open-minded people.

Michael Mendelevitz says:

Mr. Beinart was an early supporter of Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Beinart, to his credit, retracted his support when he realized that the invasion was a mistake built upon lies. Since that time, Beinart has been trying to regain his ‘Liberal Street Cred’. by taking positions much more in line with the far left. I see his fashionable Israel bashing is an attempt to make the left like him again.

I doubt that it is working. Expect Mr. Beinart to become more shrill when he realizes that he has not been forgiven for his apostasy.

Bari Weiss says:

Hi Jonathan Wornick: Bari Weiss here–I edit the News and Politics section. Who are the people that you think ought to see this piece?

babawawa says:

Wow – this author knows his stuff. Probably because he lives it, not because he’s “right wing” which I never knew because I’m not familiar with him. Stick to the facts, which apparently Beinart did not, with any consistency. If the reviews against him can be rebuffed, then let his supporters do it. Until then, quit writing off those who can.

bennybenben says:

The difference between Beinart and Kristof is not an “error of fact.” In no way is Gaza precluded from being “a place of brutal suffering” just because it is not a “full-fledged humanitarian crisis.” Stephens’s argument here is the definition of “a cheap kind of slipperiness.”

jacob arnon says:

bennybenben says:
“The difference between Beinart and Kristof is not an “error of fact.” In no way is Gaza precluded from being “a place of brutal suffering” just because it is not a “full-fledged humanitarian crisis.” Stephens’s argument here is the definition of “a cheap kind of slipperiness.””

You are letting emotions get in the way of thinking, Benny.

If Gaza is a place of brutal suffering it’s because of Hamas who rules it with as much brutality as any other Arab dictatorship and not because of Israel.

When Hamas took over their first victims were other Gazans especially Union supporters and women. They also have gone after Gays and most of their political opponents. Can you spell tyranny, Benny?

What Kristof showed was the lie perpetrated by those who excuse Hamas and want to blame the problems of Gaza on Israel.

The lies include blood libel claims that compare Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto. The Jews in warsaw could only have wished to be able to fire rockets at the German Nazis and smuggle weapons and food to the Ghetto.

What is it that allows well fed leftists support tyrannies which murder their own people and blame it on Jews?

is it ignorance or a genetic predisposition to support totalitarian societies?

Well written. Thanks.
I hope somebody takes the trouble to have it translated into Hebrew so Haaretz(that featured Beinart) will also carry this rebuttal.

brilliant sustained analysis. add to that his staggeringly sloppy treatment of Jabotinsky (, and you have a portrait of moral narcissism that could stand as a epitaph for our pathetic intellectual elite which is in the process of selling our (the West’s) birthright of freedom for a dandy new clothes.

Samuel says:

This review might as well have been written about +972, B’Tzelem and a host of others whom Beinart more resembles than not in his outlook.

The use of emotional appeals rather than facts, or evasion or “coloring” of inconvenient facts to suit one’s argument, is something I also see over and over on university campuses at talks (and papers) by academic supporters of the Palestinians/attackers of Israel.

I assume they do it out of a zealous sense of mission to “educate” Americans in a way that undermines Israel, because doing so is more important to them than true academic inquiry. If these scholars and writers were to be evenhanded, their arguments would be greatly weakened. I haven’t read Beinart’s new book, but did read the article on which it is based and don’t see much difference, except for perhaps some self-promotion as he seeks to establish himself as a player.

Unfortunately, he is joining a crowd that seeks the end of Israel as a Jewish state even if he doesn’t view or present it that way. There are ways of being critical of Israel, but the idea that this can be accomplished through weakening Israel by defaming it plays into the hands of its enemies and makes the prospect of a peaceful resolution nearly impossible.

After all, who would want to support or save an evil country?

Beinart and his ilk would do well to dial down the hysteria of their rhetoric and also to begin focusing on Israel’s very real enemies and challenges.

For Zlota says:

Could this crisis with zionism business just be a garden variety existential crisis?

…sort of like Eden, where we were kicked out on account of eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

Luckily, one would never mistake Israel for utopia.

bennybenben says:

Jacob Arnon – I’m not debating any of that; Hamas is vile. I was just pointing out that Stephens’s logic is flawed – that what he presents as a contradiction is not contradictory at all. Sadly this glaring error wasn’t picked up by most of the commentators here.

And what does it tell you that Stephens’s chooses this as an example of Beinart’s supposed “errors of fact”?

If Stephens is going to argue over Beinart’s mis-characterization of the Sasson report then it’s certainly fair to point this out.

jacob arnon says:

rlandes says: “add to that his staggeringly sloppy treatment of Jabotinsky….and you have a portrait of moral narcissism that could stand as a epitaph for our pathetic intellectual elite which is in the process of selling our (the West’s) birthright of freedom for a dandy new clothes.”

Mr. Landes, thanks for the link to the article about Jabotinsky. The article that Jabotinsky wrote is hundreds of time more interesting than anything Beinart is likely to type out.

jacob arnon says:

bennybenben, that Hamas is vile is the point. It’s of concern to Israelis, to Gazans who yearn to breathe a little more freely, and it should be concern to you as well.

Herb Glatter says:

“We Jews permit ourselves degrees of intolerance towards each other that we would never exhibit toward others outside our community. The settings are numerous – theology, Halacha, denominations, politics and more.

But nowhere are the vehemence and the inability to actually listen to those with whom we disagree more pronounced than with regard to the State of Israel.”

Reprinted by permission of author, Daniel Gordis.

Barry Rubin spoke at a synagogue in Jenkintown, PA several years ago. He said:

“they hated us when we didn’t defend ourselves, today they hate us when we do.

They hated us when we didn’t have our own state, today they hate us when we do.”

The signs in 1938 Berlin read: Jews out to Palestine, today signs around the world say: Jews get out of Palestine. Where do we go?

Mike Harris says:

Perhaps Herb was leading towards my suggestion: that Daniel Gordis is the person who can (and should) write the book Bret desribes. His most recent book “Saving Israel” touches on how Israel needs to educate its own population far more than how it should deal with the Palestinians; should he write the book Bret desribes, it would be a perfect companion piece.

Also, a point about Beinart: why is his appearance in Berkeley CA sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace and moderated by a JVP board member and functionary of the virulently anti-Israel “Middle East Children’s Alliance”? The only interest in Zionism that both of those groups have is eliminating it. Now perhaps Beinart plans to defend Israel as the state of the Jewish people in front of a hostile audience, but somehow I think they are using him to promote their own “post-Zionist” dreams.

Hershl says:

Beinart recently had an op-ed in the NY Times.

It appeared the same day that the Jewish school in Toulouse, France was attacked by a Muslim terrorist who said he was murdering Jews to support Palestinians.

Beinart’s piece trashed Israel and supported the enemies of the Jewish people.

He will go down in history as a self-hating Jew who supported our enemies while they were slaughtering our kids.

What a pathetic excuse for a human being.

All that being said, I think he is hot as hell.

Floyd says:

The bottom line is the the quote from Barry Rubin as restated by Herb Glatter. It will never be any different.
What do we do now coach!

Franci Williams says:

Thank you for an enlightened review- thoughtful, intelligent and clear.

We need more of this calibre of writing, much more.

Shalom Freedman says:

This is the most devastating of a number of devastating reviews I have read of this book. Beinart should read this review , take it seriously , think over what he has done and openly repent.

This review captures well the reality of life here in Israel in all its complexities. It is a messy, wonderful, frightening, expensive, surprising, enjoyable and frustrating place. One’s perspective is shaped by one’s proximity to Hezbollah’s 50,000 missiles (just a few score miles from my home in the Lower Galilee) and the potential for a Hamas-led state in the West Bank, just a half hour drive from here. None of this should be an excuse for paralysis in the pursuit of peace, but it is a major factor that should not be glibly dismissed.
I envy Mr. Beinart and all American Jews who wish to save us from ourselves. I envy their certainty about what we should be doing here, after all they clearly know better from their perches in New York, or Berekely. I only wish I were as certain as they are, which is why I envy them so. Meanwhile, I invite Mr. Beinart and all American Jews, whether of the left or right, who think they know what is best for us Israelis to cease their constant mental masturbation of talking about Zionism, and come here and live it already. Until then, their incessant chatting is but a tale told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Rebecca says:

you remind me of the Upper East Side Jews in 2004 –
“Hey! No one I know (in the neighberhood) voted for Bush so that shows the election’s a fake”
Since nobody you know was contact the poll means nothing, right?

Steven says:

Beinart’s arguments are flawed, his facts may be incorrect, his tone seems insulting. Does that make his conclusion incorrect? The simple fact is that there is such a thing as realpolitik, and ignoring this realpolitik is adverse to Israel’s image in the world. Israel doesn’t get to keep the settlements and should declare a moratorium, while keeping a military presence. Israel should be the most reasonable party in every room. It isn’t fair, but it is what it is. And Beinart’s incorrect facts are believed by most of the world.

Rebecca, Bush lost both elections. The first time Katherine Harris and the Supreme Court rigged it. The second time, Diebold and Ken Blackwell did.

That said, I know thousands upon thousands of Jews. And it seems I don’t know one who has ever been polled on the subject at hand, except for those who graduated JTS.

To me, that says something significant. We’ve been polled about indie minyans, our use of Yiddish & Hebrew at home, and the nature of Jewish innovation/new Jewish nonprofits. But an in-depth look at the complexities of our relationships to Israel and our feelings about the occupation & civil/human rights in Israel & the territories? Nothing.

Only JTS grads have been asked that. And guess where they come down? On Beinart’s side.

Jim Benham says:

Brett Stephens is a bigot who grants his tribe more rights than he would ever grant his Other.

Jules says:

If Breinart is “loose with the facts” then this article it could be so argued is loose with the truth.

Beinart’s response to this ridiculous review is brilliant. Bret Stephens just had his intellectual pants pulled down and spanked.

Jeffrey Ellis says:

I hope this ersatz Wall Street Journal op-ed hit piece does not become the template for future Tablet posts on the subject of Israel. The tenor of many of the comments comments alone speak to the shrillness and heavy-handed quality of this type of diatribe — “the best article on Israel and Zionism I have read”….”He [Beinart] will go down in history as a self-hating Jew who supported our enemies while they were slaughtering our children.”
Stephens’s shit-slinging and the childish comments in support is what I would expect to find in the Jerusalem Post, or the house organ of AIPAC or ZOA, but not at this site.

Ephraim H. Mizruchi, Ph.D. says:

Why do publishing houses tolerate such poor, pretentious attempts to pass off, on the reading public, arguments that fail to meet the most minimal criteria of responsible “journalism.” Bret Stephens has done a thorough job of “putting-down” this mish-mash of half-truths that can warm the heart only of the committed Israel hater. I share ,especially, his final comments.

“Here’s the story: Khaled Jaber is a young Palestinian boy whose father, Fadel, was arrested by Israelis in 2010 for stealing water after being repeatedly denied access to pipes serving a nearby settlement.”

Stealing water?

How in the hell can stealing water be a crime?

Was he planning to bottle the stolen water and sell it on the black market? Use the stolen water to fill his backyard swimming pool? Employ the stolen water in some sort of terrorist water cannon?

Rather than arrest the man for stealing water, somebody should have drilled him a well – and sent Stephens the bill to pay for it.

“Meanwhile, I invite Mr. Beinart and all American Jews, whether of the left or right, who think they know what is best for us Israelis to cease their constant mental masturbation of talking about Zionism, and come here and live it already.”

Yitzhak Santis,

I’ll make a deal with you:

Americans and American Jews will cease their constant mental masturbation about Zionism.

Israel returns the billions of American tax dollars that it receives annually in direct and indirect subsidies, agrees never to accept another dollar of support courtesy of the U.S. budget, and renounces its call for any and all protection from the American military.

We’ll shut up. Provided, of course, you pay up and man up.


@ Sol
1. The *military* aid that Israel receives each year is negligible and Israel does not need it. So yes take it back.
2. But you won’t because – it’s an American interest more than an Israeli one, it’s just a subsidy to the military industry and nothing else.
3. Mr Santis was speaking about US Jews, not all Americans – do you think that the the Jews own America ? And he was speaking of a purely Jewish perspective about these guys telling us how to live.

So yes shut up.

Larry Snider says:

I guess I must start by saying; Wow! OK, so Mr. Stephens threw a bunch of haymakers that I believe have connected. But there are still many problems including the fact that Peter Beinart has thrown and landed quite a few himself. That is one reason why so many words are being written about him and so many doors have been opened. Sorting it all out is beyond my capacity. “But,” it is necessary to recognize the essence of a liberal argument that sounds better some 5000 miles away from Ashkelon than it does on the ground there in the wake of the noise of the sirens and the boom of a Grad Missile. Reality has seaped into the logic of Israelis from every political spectrum and as Mr. Stephen’s says adjusted their voting patterns. However, Beinart represents a serious American, (Jewish and otherwise), weariness with the futility of a peace process that no side has fully invested in nor effectively influenced its people to take to heart coupled with the knowledge that the United States has the power to do more and that Israel faced with incessant terror and the hostility of living in a very difficult neighborhood has an asymmetical advantage over the Palestinians it shares a small scap of land with.

if you’ve read peter beinart at all, on any subject, and in particular on israel, then you know that he is an unmitigated a______. i applaud the proper review of his bile and tripe, and at the same time feel that he isn’t even worthy of our attention.

Morris Zarif says:


Andrew says:

I’m glad that The Daily Beast finally wrote a response to your insane piece of drivel. Its your kind of hate speech that throws Israel into a new dangerous world. American Jews, Gentile supporters of Israeli sovereignty and Jew-loving Americans are appalled by the hate, violence, oppression displayed everyday by Bibi and the trolls running the country. Its kinda like when Europe slowly backed away from the US when Bush II was the guy in charge… he screamed “caution” to those around him. Just as Bibi’s sheer presence screams “caution” to the world today. Just like Bush, a more reasonable person will take over for Bibi, and we will get back to a path of progress. But until then… its just, “Hey, lets hope Bibi just burn Jerusalem down while playing a fiddle”

    So essentially you have a problem with democracy?  The reality is, Israeli voters elected Netanyahu through free elections (actually given Israel’s parlimentary government they elected Likud).  Indeed, in the past 15 years, Israelis have put into power no fewer than six different Prime Ministers from all points on the political spectrum. 

    Yet apparently, to you, this should not be so, and only certain types of government should be presented for Israelis to vote on. 


Andrew says:

“Hey, lets just hope Bibi *doesn’t* burn Jerusalem down while playing a fiddle” Sorry, that Nero/Bush/Bibi reference got jumbled while I was distracted. But my essential point is this: Reactive, violent fascists don’t play well outside of the country that they rule. Just a rule of thumb.

Andrew says:

My big takeaway from reading Goldblog, Stephens, etc these last few days is this: Only the angry right wing neocons who actively hate Muslims and Persians agree with this kind of talk. the rest of the world population is so far outside of your realm of justified apartheid that its just a matter of time before our open society just shakes our collective head at your small minded violent tendencies… the PTSD eventually goes away, generation after generation. Glad you all have failed to spread the “values” of apartheid…

Jossef says:

As Bret Sthephens shows in this article, “The Crisis of Zionism” is a perfect example of the distorted reality of arch-liberal American Jews like Peter Beinhart. In that distorted reality any single incident in which Israel acts in a way that is inconsistent with liberal ethics, is enough to prove the failure of Zionism and to justify the views of Israel’s enemies. Liberal Jews like Peter Beinhart have always viewed Israel as an obstacle to their acceptance by the radical left, which has compelled them to be more anti-Israel than others.

Adele Conner says:

This is the best literary take-down I have ever read. Well done.

Arnon Tel Aviv says:


You may want to know what an Israeli Liberal think about the above article.

I agree with almost every sentence. indeed, I haven’t read Beinart’s book, but I believe Mr. Stephens missed a major point.

It’s not a question of “ethics” for us.

without ending “the conflict” Israel will loose its core democratic values. It’s gradually going there. I estimate – and polls show -that 50% of Israelis don’t really care to forsake those cores.

Actions and practices, “tolerated” in the past because they were addressed to Arabs alone, are now aiming at Israeli NGO’s, i.e. against Israeli Jews.

THAT will drive small – but large enough – group to prefer to live else where. that group, is the one that holds Israel economy on its back, and more importantly – gives Israel its cutting edge qualities in science, art, industry etc. Without that cutting edge, will Israel still be able to be the strongest power in the region?

So what is the lesser evil after all?

David from Sharon MA says:

A brilliant analysis of Peter Beinart’s book.

Dan Bendor says:

from his days @ the jerusalem post till today, I find Stephens wonderfully thoughtful and clear.

loved this essay.

Joseph Rosen says:

I am an exemplary Zionist!

My name is Joseph Rosen and I live in Jerusalem.
I am the author of the autobiography ‘Why a Jew?’ which has already appeared in Romanian (the original language), Hebrew and French.
[For French edition, please see in Google: joseph rosen pourquoi juif?].

Recently the English edition has appeared in New York and can be see in Google: why a jew 9781616672300 [ISBN Number}.

The reason I’ve written this book is in order to follow the principle of giving
‘the other side’- Israel – a chance to be heard.
In this way, ‘Why a Jew?’ is a good instrument to combat New Anti-Semitism, and can help many people to understand
Israel’s position.

I am convinced – and not only me – that my book is of great current interest because it explains why the State of Israel must exist in this geographical area.

Everything that I wrote in ‘Why a Jew?’ is based on well-known historical and statistical date and facts, which nobody can contest, regardless of his/they political and religious opinion.

This book is like my ‘doctoral thesis’, but it is addressed not only to a group of experts,yet to hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions of people who know nothing at all about the Jewish people and history of Israel.

Also, in my book I proposed to convince that only through reciprocal tolerance – between religions or various political systems – will be guarantee the imperative equilibrium for the survival of our ‘little globe’.

Information about my book can be obtained from this address

Joseph Rosen

delia ruhe says:

I just love nasty little narrow minded reviews like this — full of bile and ill-will. I lived among Jews for a big part of my life. They always disagreed, but never with this kind of murderous intent — which is exactly what I’ve learnt to expect from the likes of the Jerusalem Post and everything owned by Murdoch.

    Murderous intent?  In what way does Bret Stephens threaten Peter Beinart? 

    You mean like Theo van Gogh?  Salman Rushdie? 

    Or perhaps when someone disagrees with an author and makes a valid attempt at critiquing his work, you think that there is blood in the eye of the reviewer who hopes to spill that of the original author.

Jehudah Ben-Israel says:

“I just love…”

The Jerusalem Post is one of Israel’s finest and oldest daily newspapers and is centrist in its views of politics in general and Israel’s foreign relations in particular.

Mr. Murdoch, of course, doesn’t now and has never in the past owned the whole or parts of the Jerusalem Post. And, incidentally, Mr. Murdoch is not Jewish.

We, Jews, are, indeed, a bunch of introspective and self-critical. I see nothing wrong in it. It is actually a trait from which more around the world should benefit, especially Israel’s neighbors, don’t you think…??

For Zlota says:

Are there any self hating, self critical Palestinians?

I worked for Bret Stephens at the JPost, and aside from his tremendous ability as a writer and editor, I’ve never had a more personable, encouraging editor in my career. He’s a very good man. However, there’s a statement in his article that is false and defamatory to the Palestinian people, and extremely damaging in general: “Last year’s murder of the Fogel family, horrifying as it was, wasn’t nearly as disturbing as the public celebration of the killings among Palestinians.” Here’s part of what I wrote in the JPost about the Palestinian reaction: “…from all evidence, they do genuinely deplore it, with few exceptions. Even Hamas said ‘harming children is not part of Hamas policy,’ even though this belies history. Not only Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas spoke of his revulsion at the murders of children, so did leading PA media, so did Palestinians on Facebook, so did Nablus residents interviewed by Channel 10 reporter Shlomi Eldar, so did the half-dozen East Jerusalem shopkeepers I interviewed.
‘We think it’s inhuman to kill people like that,’ said Murad Muna, a grocer. ‘Nothing justifies going into a house and killing children,’ said Nabil Feidy, a currency dealer.
After the killings, some people in the Gazan town of Rafah handed out sweets, a group calling itself the ‘Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of Imad Mughniyeh’ claimed responsibility, and Islamic Jihad called it a ‘heroic operation.’ Otherwise, Palestinian society has come down on this slaughter of a family asleep, above all of children.”
There were many, many more Jews seen and heard celebrating after Baruch Goldstein’s massacre than there were of Palestinians celebrating after the Fogel murders; how would we feel if someone wrote simply and solely about the “public celebration of the [Goldstein] killings among Jews”?

Larry Derfner, apologist for the most heinous and inhuman acts of terror by the Palestinian Arabs and dishonest to his core, writes:

“… from all evidence, they do genuinely deplore it [the slaughter of the Fogel family], with few exceptions. Even Hamas said ‘harming children is not part of Hamas policy,’ even though this belies history. Not only Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas spoke of his revulsion at the murders of children, so did leading PA media…”.

From Palestinian Media Watch:

PA TV host: “We have a call from the family of prisoner Hakim Awad.”
Mother of Hakim Awad: “I thank you for connecting me with my son, because I and all of the family are prevented for security reasons [from visiting him].
Host: “Go ahead, sister, we can convey your voice.”
Mother of Hakim Awad: “My greetings to dear Hakim, the apple of my eye, from the village of Awarta, 17 years old, who carried out the operation in Itamar (i.e., killing of 5 Fogel family members), sentenced to 5 life sentences and another 5 years, in prison.”
Aunt of Hakim Awad: “I’m the sister of prisoner Hassan Awad and of Salah Awad; [I am] Um Habib, from the village of Awarta. My warm greetings to all the great heroic prisoners, to my brother Hassan Awad, head of the village council; to my brother Salah Awad, the heroic prisoner journalist; to the heroic, resolute prisoner, the lion, Yazid Awad, my nephew; and to my nephew Hakim Awad, the hero, the legend.” Host: “We [PA TV], for our part, also convey our greetings to them.”
Aunt of Hakim Awad: “I dedicate this song to Hassan Awad, Yazid Awad, Hakim Awad, and Salah Awad, in prison:
‘My brother, in solitary confinement, your voice calls to me
You dare not throw down the rifle
That is what the homeland asked of me
In your eyes, we are all self-sacrificing fighters.
I convey greetings to the sound of the bullets of Ahmad Sa’adat and Hakim Awad.'”
Host: “Thank you for being with us, the family of prisoners Hassan and Salah Awad of Awarta.”

Jehudah Ben-Israel says:

Mr. Larry Derfner,

Why are you eager to ensure Israel’s demise, and on what basis can you justify the firing of thousands of rockets on Israeli Jewish civilians – children, women, men and the elderly?

You don’t expect, I hope, we, Jews, would want to ready any of your views, especially when expressed at the site of a Jewish publication, do you?

For Zlota says:

I’m left with the odd impression that a self hating Palestinian is either one who deplores the cold blooded, Manson family style murder of sleeping Jewish children or one who revels in it.

But are there any Palestinian versions of Derfner, or Beinart, who wring their hands over the actions of Palestinians and defend the actions of Jews?

Floyd says:

All the young American Jews who have had to dodge Palestinian rockets (and other fatal indignities all these years) please raise your hands.
I thought so.

    do u mean literally dodge, or have been in shelters as a results of the rockets? I think a few more hands would go up, even though I’m not sure what the implications of this rhetorical question were.

jzsnake says:

A self hating Palestinian would for all intents and purpose also be a dead one. That’s a lot of self hating unless you are a suicide bomber.

For Zlota says:

How can there be peace if people get murdered for collaborating?

Ian Brookes says:

Mr. Stephens rants and tautological arguments show the dissonance of Zionists. His statement about Beinart’s book:

” It shows no understanding that the essence of statesmanship is the weighing of various unpalatable alternatives” coupled with his discussions of evils in the following paragraph perhaps hint at his deep understanding of the moral evil of Zionism.

What happened to the Jewish community in Europe was definitely evil but long before that time Zionists had decided that they would lie and cheat their way to stealing the Palestinians home and to kill them and force them to leave – see Illan Pappe “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” – which uses the Zionists own documentation.

This evil cannot be justified by what Zionists saw as a Jewish need. They were offered the opportunity for a home in Palestine while recognizing the rights of the existing population but decided to ignore their rights, kill their leaders and steal their land. Why – because the alternative of a bi-national state was not acceptable to them – the Zionists wanted it all and were willing to kill and steal the 94% of the land they did not own.

This was then compounded with self deception by teaching their children a false and fabricated history of “A land without people for a people without land” and other such fairy tales.

As information and historical documents have become more accessible the moral evil and fraud of Zionism has become more evident and the violent killing and repression of the rightful owners of the land more obvious. This creates a moral dilemma for some Jews who see the diametrical opposite that Zionism represents to Judaism – Beinart simply recognizes that dissonance while still trying to cling to the lies he was brought up with.

Ian Brookes cites as his “expert” resource on Zionism, Illan Pappe, a post-modernist self-admitted ideologue who believes there are no facts, no truth, only perception. And who includes in his “scholarship”, only Palestinian Arab perceptions. And we know how rationale those are.

The Jews were the ONLY religio-ethnic group to be awarded a national home in Palestine under international law, 78% of which was subsequently confiscated by the perfidious Brits and handed off to the Hashemites to become the 22nd Arab state, currently 70% Palestinian Arab by population.

Despite this betrayal of catastrophic proportions and decades of pogroms and ethnic cleansing at the hands of the local Arabs, like that of the 1929 Hebron massacre, the early Zionists accepted a shrunken state, now representing less than 15% of the original Mandate promised to the Jews, and with a 20% Arab population that enjoys greater freedom and opportunity than in any Arab country.

Now the Arabs, who are not satisfied with 99.5% of the lands in the Middle East, who will never be satisfied until they have extirpated a Jewish sovereign and slaughtered the remaining Jews, are engaged in the greatest political fraud and propaganda campaign in history to reinvent and portray themselves as victims and the Jews, the aboriginal people of the land, as interlopers.

And in that campaign, they are aided and abetted by the likes of “progressive” ignoramuses like Peter Beinart and filthy lying antisemites like the commenter above.

For Zlota says:

I don’t know why the Palestinans even bother to get involved in the dispute.

Ian Brookes says:

SF’s emotional histrionics and name calling do not respond to the facts of the situation.

1.5 million Palestinian people lived in the area that Israel ethnically cleansed and stole. The lies and theft are documented in the IDF archives and Ben Gurion and others diaries. These are the sources that Pappe uses.

It is hard to accept the truth that the basis for your beliefs are a provable lie.

Even facts are distorted. The Balfour Declaration which became the basis for UN policy offered a Jewish home in Palestine – provided that it did not infringe on the rights of others. The Zionist decided that the last bit did not count!!

“We do [historiography] because of ideological reasons, not because we are truth seekers… there is no such thing as truth, only a collection of narratives.”

— Ilan Pappe

Benny Morris has conclusively shown that Pappe fabricates Ben Gurion quotes to peddle his utterly bizarre brand of historical fiction.

Pappe is nothing but a huckster and a fraud.

And you, a sucker for buying it.

Ian Brookes says:

Truth often depends on a perspective and interpretation of events.

Check Pappe’s references in his book. There are a lot of IDF documents, Hagana archives, NY Times reports.

They provide a clear and consistent picture that are at odds with the fantasy that has been presented as the truth by Zionists.

Even ” A Land without People for a People without Land” is clearly a lie!

    raanana says:

     “Even ” A Land without People for a People without Land” is clearly a lie!” 

    “” The phrase “a land without a people to a people without a land” was
    never a “Zionist slogan” and was never said (except to disagree with it)
    by any Zionist or Israeli leader. Rather it was a phrase used by three
    nineteenth Christian proponents of a Jewish return to the land of
    Israel, who wrote before the (Jewish) Zionist movement was even begun by
    Theodore Herzl (see Adam M. Garfinkle, “On the Origin, Meaning, Use and
    Abuse of a Phrase,” Middle East Studies, October 1991, for a thorough debunking of the anti-Zionist
    myth of this supposed “slogan”). Nor did any Zionist or Israeli with
    any power or influence ever suggest that “Jewish settlers were to be
    accorded exclusive privileges deriving from the Penteteuch,” or advocate
    “the establishment of the equivalent of a colonial hierarchy-sanctioned
    by Biblical authority.” Most Zionist leaders were, are still are,
    secularists who opposed any fundamentalist reading of the Jewish Bible.
    But even religious Zionists, such as Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook,
    the first Ashkenazic chief rabbi of mandatory Palestine, opposed any
    discrimination against, or hostility to, Arabs. As for the claim that
    Zionists regarded women as objects of “possession” (an obvious play for
    feminist support of the anti-Israel cause), it has no historical or
    factual basis whatsoever.”

    Ian Brooks, do not adhere to to lies as you so excellently do. Shame on you!!

For Zlota says:

Is this an argument for the 1947 borders?

Brookes: “Ethnically cleansed”?? The Arab population in Israel today is over 1.5 million. And as I noted, they have greater freedom and opportunity than Arabs in any Arab country.

The Jews have been true to Balfour, true to the Mandate, true to 242.

It is the Arabs who are committed to ethnic cleansing. They tell us so. You’ve simply got your fingers in your ears.

The facts are on my side. You can’t win the argument on the merits so you resort to advancing the proven lies of a huckster.

Breathtaking integrity.

Ziota: it’s the argument for extermination.

Ian Brookes says:

SF – you definitely do not read nor understand.

Arabs in Israel are not equal citizens – by definition – the Jewish State discriminates against them. There are many laws and procedures that discriminate – if you care to look! Expelling over one million Palestinians in no way complied with UN resolutions as indicated in UN Resolution 194 that requires the return of refugees.

It is laughable that you think Israel complies with 242 – I don’t think that you have read or understand it. This is because Israel must remove itself from all territories occupied in 1967. Last time I looked they were still occupying the territories of the West Bank and Golan.

When you are so vested in the lies of Zionism you cannot even read the real facts. Read UN 194 and 242 and tell me how Israel complies.

Stephens talks about choices between unpalatable options. For Zionists, murder and expulsion of Palestinians – which is clearly documented, was preferable to sharing the land.

Zionism is the antithesis of Judaism but has become a form of devilish indoctrination – in defiance of your God.

    raanana says:

    “Arabs in Israel are not equal citizens – by definition – the Jewish State discriminates against them.”

    Arab Israelis are equal citizens and even privileged.  Your definition, Mr. Ian Brooks, I am afraid is skewed.  Israel declaration of independence states:

    “;it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its
    inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged
    by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social
    and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion,
    race or sex; ”

    Indeed, Israel has proven that she protects its minorities and sometime far better than Israeli Jews.   Please,  read this recent pole here:

    52.8% of Israeli Arabs proud to be Israelis, 45% think important Israel strengthens its military might

    It is appalling to read the rest of Mr. Brooks distortions and writings that exude nothing short of hatred and antisemitism –blatant lies.  Perhaps it is him who do not understand the 242 UN Resolutions, or the 194 Un Resolution,  a none binding resolutions, however.

    I suggest Mr. Brooks read this book and certainly not rely of a proven falsifiers such as Ilan Pappe: 

    “The Jewish People’s Right to the Land of Israel” —

“There are many laws and procedures that discriminate [against the Arabs].

Yeah, like the fact that the state doesn’t compel them to serve in the military or pay taxes. But they are Knesset members (who commit sedition) and Supreme Court Justices.

You have no fucking idea what you’re talking about.

Less than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled around the time of the 1948 war. More Jews were forced out of the Arab countries; their lives threatened, their property confiscated.

194 is a GA resolution; it’s nonbinding. The Jewish refugees were assimilated into Israel as full citizens; the Palestinian Arabs are treated like shit by their brethren in all of the Arab countries where they wallow in squalid refugee camps, unable to own land or work in many professions.

UNSCR 242 calls for the “termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.” Something most of the Arab world refuses to do.

Israel has already returned the entire Sinai, tried to give Gaza back to Egypt (they refused to take that hellhole) and offered to give most of Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) to Jordan. King Hussein didn’t want the Palestinians and today, Jordan is systematically stripping them of their Jordanian residency.

Why don’t you address my earlier points about the Arabs getting 78% of the Mandate promised to the Jews or controlling 99.5% of the land in the Middle East while working feverishly to ethnically cleanse the remaining 0.5% of Jews?

You’re just a parrot, repeating something you’ve read in some Arabist’s propaganda playbook.

And I don’t waste my time conversing with parrots.

For Zlota says:

According to a Memri translation of Hamas Minister of the Interior and of National Security Fathi Hammad, aired by Al-Hekma TV on March 23, 2012, half of Palestinians are Egyptian, the other half are Saudi.

(it’s interesting that I feel self consciously politically incorrect for posting this comment.)

Ian Brookes says:

SF – getting emotional and ranting does not address the issue.

You agree that non-Jewish Israelis are discriminated against, which is inconsistent with the agreed basis of the foundation of a Jewish homeland.

In terms of Palestinians fleeing, perhaps a list of the villages that were ethnically cleansed by military force taken from IDF and Hagana archives would convince you? Orders that are marked ‘tihur. The Palestinians did not flee – they were pushed from their homes. Yes eventually Arabs retaliated to this by forcing Jews out of their countries – also unacceptable but prompted by the cleansing of the Palestinians.

UN 242 clearly starts with the UN charter basis that land cannot be taken by force and cannot be settled by the occupier. A foundation of the Charter that Israel ignores like every other obligation it ‘accepts’.

The mandate promise in the Balfour Declaration did not define any area – simply a Jewish home in Palestine (while not ignoring the rights of the existing residents). The UN resolution 181 defined an area which was accepted – about 56%. At the time Jews owned only 6% of the land!!! Is it right that they stole the remaining 94% and did not compensate the Palestinians and threatened to kill them if they tried to return to their homes? Interesting that UN 194 – which is based on the UN Charter is ignored by you and Israel as non-binding (not that Israel even complies with binding resolutions).

It is disturbing that for Zionists the UN Charter and UN Human Rights convention do not apply to Israel – although Israel was happy to use the UN to get started!!

None of this is consistent with what I understand the moral values of the USA or Judaism.

This dissonance is what causes the anger and bitterness of Zionists – who deep down understand that Israel and Zionism is, in fact, immoral and racist and incompatible with their religious beliefs.

Something that no person wants to confront, but Pape, Beinart,Atzmon have accepted.

    The whole premise that purports to lay down statements about the much hyped and totally misrepresented international law and humanitarian laws is carefully crafted concoctions and absolute fakery chipping at the important details this malicious, malignant hater carries out. But then, we indeed have seen much more base and lowlier attempts at agit-propaganda other than this.

      Ian Brookes is a brazen, blatant and unabashed L*I*A*R.

        Clearly he is pulling out his hair one by one at the devastating and factual criticism the hapless Niemand (I even doubt if he knows what this German word means, after all these types are not especially famous about speaking foreign languages, don’t they?) has been dealt with both by Bret Stephens and his nemesis talkabackers. Down with the rotten-to-the-core base cultural marxist pseudo-liberal cowardly antisemites, I would say!

For Zlota says:

“Pape, Beinart,Atzmon”

Jehudah Ben-Israel says:

Pappe, Beinart,Atzmon & Co.: Anti-Israel consulting services.

yevka says:

This is the best article I’ve read on Bienart’s book.

Bret Stephen’s is the worst I’ve read.

yevka says:

A good review of “The Crisis of Zionism” by Joseph Dana

There’s no ‘occupation’. Legally, Judea and Samaria belong to the Jews. The bigoted word ‘occupation’ is merely the most successful slogan used by the Jewhating world.


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Peter Beinart’s False Prophecy

The Crisis of Zionism, his book arguing that the Israeli occupation alienates young American Jews, is sloppy with facts and emotionally contrived