Beinart’s bomb (JERUSALEM POST OP-ED) By DANIEL DORON 04/15/12)
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Peter Beinart, the celebrated American wunderkind and self-styled
lover of Zion is determined to teach Israel to act wisely and morally.
So he just published a book on Zionism, recycling accusations he
first made in a 2001 New York Review of Books essay. The heart of his
condemnation of Zionism is that Israeli governments habitually
violated Arab human rights by using excessive force in pursuit of
self-defense; even worse, they used self-defense as an excuse to
repress the Palestinians and deny them statehood.
Beinart charges the American Jewish establishment with failure “to
empathize with the plight of the Palestinians” and to press Israel to
withdraw from “occupied land.” It is, he claims, a prime reason for
the growing alienation of young American Jewish students from Israel.
Most American Jewish students, he gleefully informed us, were
distancing themselves from Israel because “they have imbibed [been
indoctrinated, perhaps? DD] some of the defining values of American
Jewish political culture: a belief in open debate, skepticism about
military force, a commitment to human rights.”
Beinart’s hectoring is often based on such vacuous abstractions. What
precisely does he mean, for example, when he touts his “deep sense of
the limits of military force”? That Israel must not react to years of
exploding buses and thousands of rockets raining on its cities and
killing civilians? That Israel must “show empathy to Palestinian
suffering” and ignore the indiscriminate murder of innocent Israelis?
How can Beinart falsely accuse Israel of using “excessive force” (how
defined, and by whom?) when in fact Israel has been so restrained
about using force that it failed to squash or even impede Arab
terrorism? This, when a determined effort by the formidable Israeli
army could certainly have defeated Arab terrorism, as all other
terrorist movements were defeated in the past, by decisive military
action (from the Hashashin to the Red Brigades, The Shining Path, The
Bader Meinhof Gang, the 1936 Arab revolt, the Communist revolts in
Greece and Malaysia and more).
Can Prof. Beinart cite more than a few rare cases of Israeli military
commanders who have not agonized over the proper use of force, often
paying with the lives of their soldiers for such agonizing, when
terrorists hiding among a civilian population forced them to examine
in real circumstances and time “the limits of military force”; not
from the comfort of one’s office, but in life and death situations?
Would it be too much to expect from Prof. Beinart and his moralistic
colleagues to spare some of the empathy they exclusively bestow on
the Arabs (who happen to be the aggressors in this deadly conflict)
also for their victims, even if the victims are guilty, as he claims,
of an “obsession with victim-hood,” allegedly overreacting to the
deadly danger posed by crazed Muslim fundamentalism and by a nuclear-
armed Iran. Does such a putative “overreaction,” even if it existed,
justify dismissing their fear of being annihilated? In pursuit of the
vague moralistic strictures that make up the Liberal Jewish canon,
Beinart seems to believe that Jews should give up their primary duty
to protect life, especially the life of innocents, that they should
forgo the sages’ advice that “he who is about to kill you, rise early
and kill him first.”
WHILE DESPISING assertive Jewish nationalism, Beinart is most
forgiving to extreme Arab jingoism that uses terrorism against
innocent civilians. He would have Israel dedicate itself to the
establishment of a rogue, criminal Palestinian state.
Beinart urges Israelis to recognize “Palestinian as deserving of
dignity and capable of peace.” Well said. Quite a few Israelis have
indeed criticized stupid, sometime vicious acts by Israeli
governments, including the decision by the Israeli governments who
followed the Oslo prescriptions and forced the Palestinian Arabs of
the West Bank and Gaza to submit to the rule of Arafat’s PLO, a body
made up of terrorist mafias that prevented them from building a civil
society capable of peace.
It never even occurs to the self-righteous Beinart that establishing
an independent Palestinian state, which he so fervently pushes, will
most certainly result – when the Palestinians are ruled, as he
himself acknowledges by “a group of leaders who stabbed them in the
back” – in a great calamity for the Arabs, in an Assad-style
The PA already deprives Palestinian Arabs not only of “their dignity”
and most basic human rights (it will become much worse when the West
Bank inevitably falls under the rule of Hamas), but indeed will
deprive them – it already does – of any liberty, of any chance to
pursue happiness. Instead it incites them with vicious Nazi-like
propaganda to wage a war of annihilation against “the sons of pigs
and monkeys, the Jews,” even though Palestinian Arabs will be the
chief victims of such a war, as they were in 1948.
Israel’s putative “occupation,” which in fact permits Palestinian
Arabs to carry on independently with their lives, is the only bulwark
against a violent Hamas takeover of the West Bank that will consign
them to terrible misery.
But why face such a tough dilemmas when one can indulge in moral
posturing? Because what really matters to Beinart are abstract “moral
principles,” “dignity” and “national rights,” no matter how
disastrous their promiscuous application will be to Israelis and
Palestinians alike. A true believer, Beinart is so busy preening his
moral feathers that he does not bother with the mortal danger posed
to Palestinians Arabs, no less than to Israelis, by Muslim
fundamentalism and jingoism.
Nowhere is the moral vacuity of Beinart’s condemnations more evident
than in his claim that there exist “frightening long term trends in
Israeli society...” arising “from a growth in groups like ‘settlers’
or ‘Russians’ [racism, anybody]” who expressed in polls a desire
to “encourage Arabs to leave the country.”
If you are spared the worry that your children may not return alive
when they go out socializing because they may become victims of Arab
terrorism, it is easy to sneer at the fears behind such attitudes.
But judging by the tolerance liberal Americans show toward pro-Israel
voices on campuses one may wonder how long their tolerance to Arab
terrorism would last, if they had to face its daily threats.
If we are to judge a people by its deeds, and not by opinion polls,
Israelis are the most tolerant people on earth.
Can anyone imagine another people that would be exposed to years of
terror acts, and yet, except for a very few exceptions, not act in
revenge against members of the ethnic group that perpetrated such
atrocities and fully supported them? Despite numerous, repeated acts
of Palestinian terror, Arabs usually roam unmolested in every part of
Israel; this even immediately after terrorist acts in which several
delayed charges were planted to also kill those who come to rescue
Beinart’s total disregard for reality, his sanctimonious obsession
with moral abstractions, is a great obstacle to real reconciliation
because it protects the enemies of peace while making impossible
demands on those who really want it. We must rid ourselves of the
moral falsehoods promoted by the likes of Beinart, a false prophet of
peace, in order to start the arduous task of building true peace.
The writer is the founder and director of The Israel Center for
Social and Economic Progress, an independent economic policy and
education think tank. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 04/15/12)
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