Beinart responds to my open letter

Here is Peter Beinart’s response to my open letter of April 9, 2012:

From: Peter Beinart


To: Maurice Ostroff


Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2012 20:27:18 +0000


Subject: Apologies


Have been so overwhelmed that I didn’t see this till now. But I saw you published it elsewhere, I think.


As it happens, palestinians (sic) also think we’re highly unbalanced as we have 7 regular jewish (sic)  but only one palestinian (sic) writers!


Best wishes,

And here is my response:

Dear Professor Beinart,


Thank you for your email. I appreciate your good wishes but I am sure you will not be surprised that I consider your very brief response to my open letter to be disappointing. My readers and I have been looking forward to learning your views on the several points I raised.


As mentioned in my email to you, my letter was distributed to my mailing list and, yes, it was published by The Times of Israel.


Your claim that you promote an open discussion is contradicted by your refusal of my request to publish that letter on your site. The lack of balance is in the views expressed, not the nationality of the writers who all express opinions similar to yours.


As a teacher of journalism I would expect you to support the right of reply as set out for example in The BBC’s Editorial Guidelines, which states “.. that those criticised should be given a “right of reply”, that is, given a fair opportunity to respond to the allegations”.


Let’s look at a few examples of your statements that call for the right of reply.


In your article in the NY review of  books “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment” you criticize the present Israeli government for unjustly evicting a Palestinian family from their home in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Without in any way either endorsing or condemning the occupation by Jews of homes in Sheikh Jarrah, I consider your report to be unbalanced and misleading by concealing the fact that the eviction was carried out on the grounds of rent delinquency as determined by a Supreme Court ruling. EvenIsrael’s fiercest critics acknowledge the high judicial standard of the Israel Supreme Court, which is often accused of erring on the liberal side.


In fact the action was initiated as long ago as 1972, long before the present government came into existence. While the Israeli court accepted the Jewish claim of ownership, it nevertheless recognized the Palestinian residents’ status as “protected tenants” who could not be ejected as long as they continued to pay the rent in terms of Israel’s Protected Tenant Law. Consequently, of the 28 families who occupied the premises, only two were evacuated for the valid reason of refusing to pay the low protected rental. Those who continued to pay rental were unaffected.


In the same article you state categorically that for Israel FM Lieberman, “a two-state solution means redrawing Israel’s border so that a large chunk of Israeli Arabs find themselves exiled to another country, without their consent“. [emphasis added]. But if you read Lieberman’s complete plan you will find no reference at all to exiling or lack of consent and you will find that this plan which you paint as demonic is consistent with President Obama’s benign suggestion of “land swaps”.


Lieberman envisaged two largely homogeneous states, one Jewish Israeli and the other Arab Palestinian, not  precluding that minorities will remain in either state where they will receive full civil rights.


He compares his plan to the splitting of Czechoslovakia into two, and reminds us that even in Belgium there are strong voices who wish to see that nation broken into separate Walloon and Flemish territories.


Disappointingly for a professor of journalism you use the unacceptable technique of judging a complete nation by quoting selected extremist statements by individuals. e.g you refer to Effi Eitam as having said in 2006 “We’ll have to expel the overwhelming majority of West Bank Arabs from here and remove Israeli Arabs from [the] political system” and you recommend this quote as a model to understand the values of Netanyahu’s government.


Sir, I suggest to you that you would not dream of using this technique of extrapolating extremist statements by individuals to judge any other country. For example you would not suggest that President Obama’s former intimate advisor Van Jones helps understand the Obama government. You will recall that Jones had to  apologize for calling Republicans “assholes” and subscribed to a petition by the, which called for investigation into “unanswered questions that suggest that people within the (Bush) Administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war.” SFGate September 5, 2009


Nor would you suggest that Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. who has been severely censured over the Fast and Furious gun-trafficking affair represents the values of the Obama administration. After more than 75 members of Congress co-sponsored a House resolution expressing “no confidence” in his leadership Mr. Holder unabashedly played the race card  saying “This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him..both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.NY Times December 17, 2011


May I again request that you publish this open correspondence on your web site so that the open discourse that you promised can be fulfilled with the participation of all sincere interested parties.



Maurice Ostroff

About the Author
Maurice Ostroff is a founder member of the international Coalition of Hasbara Volunteers, better known by its acronym CoHaV, (star in Hebrew), a world-wide umbrella organization of volunteers active in combating anti-Israel media and political bias and in promoting the positive side of Israel His web site is at