Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Peter Beinart's liberal Zionist fantasy

The lie behind Beinart's ideals was revealed a decade ago when he strongly supported the US invasion of Iraq.

By Mark LeVine

".....And this is perhaps the biggest problem with the world view of commentators such as Beinart and "liberal" groups such as J Street, which aims to be a liberal answer to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) - and to which Beinart has strong ties.

They can only get a seat at the table of power to the extent they refrain from offering the kind of systematic, historically grounded and ruthlessly honest critique of policies that would show the flaws in the system to be fundamental and irreparable - precisely what those in power work so hard to ensure no-one understands. And so, J Street has publicly distanced itself even from Beinart's mild settlement boycott, while also refusing to hold Israel to account for the Gaza war.

If Beinart had spent some time reading the Hebrew prophets before writing The Crisis of Zionism, he might have realised that half-hearted critique gets you nowhere. Yet at the same time, the prophets offer some of the most angry and damning criticisms ever penned against one's own people. They also offer some of the most radical inspiration and hope for a different future the world has ever seen. The moral and spiritual narratives of not only Judaism, but Christianity and Islam as well, would be unimaginable without them.

And that is perhaps the saddest part of Beinart's argument: By remaining within a narrow and flawed historical and political liberal vision, Beinart and other so-called "left Zionists" are unable to imagine a truly progressive future for Israel, one in which all Jews and Palestinians can, in fact, achieve security, justice, peace and democracy - without fundamentally denying the same to the other.

Whether it is bi-nationalism, parallel states, confederation or some other form of political and economic association still to be imagined, there are many ways for Israel to remain what Beinart so desperately wants it to be - a haven for Jews - while allowing Palestinians the full share of rights they have for so long been denied. It would take great imagination and courage to design and push for such a vision, but if the future of Israel and its relationship with American Jews is as threatened as Beinart imagines, there's no excuse for not trying."

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