Dennis Ross, Peter Beinart, and Me

It seems Peter has been reading my columns. In a recent Haaretz installment, Peter does to Dennis Ross what I have been doing to him. And now I will show that Peter’s fisking is only an excuse to push his agenda of pressuring Israel to give up land for a Palestinian state.

1) Peter, you tell us that Ross says the Palestinian ICC bid is useless. And then you tell us that Ross contradicts himself when he writes that the Palestinian bid will only strengthen the resolve of Israeli politicians who prefer the status quo.

Actually, Peter, Ross said the bid would “not alter the reality on the ground.” This is not the same as useless. Which explains the contradiction you raise. The ICC bid would in no way alter the current reality. It would only force the opposing sides to dig their heels in further.

You further attempt to undermine Ross’s assertions because he cites no evidence that the ICC bid is useless or for his assertion that the bid will make the Israeli Right more intractable. As this is an opinion piece, much of what Ross writes will be opinion, based on his considerable experience. Now Peter, I know you know this, as you have been writing opinion pieces for much of your professional life. Peter, when you write this way you undermine your own credibility.

2) You tell us Ross says the Palestinians are never held responsible. And then you prove to us that the Palestinians are held responsible, at least by the US.

First of all, Ross didn’t say the Palestinians are never held responsible. He just said they get a pass.

Second of all, when analyzing the evidence you marshal in support of your position showing us all how America is tough on the Palestinians, this is what I turned up: the only times the US has held up – not cancelled mind you, but held up – payments to the PA is when the PA teamed up with Hamas. So I guess, Peter, you have a point. When the PA joins a terrorist organization with a proven track record in genocide the US puts its foot down.

But not really. Even the current PA- Hamas unity government is not enough to stop Congressional funding of terrorism. Incredibly enough, the PA pays out roughly $100 million a year in salaries – funds the PA received from the US government and others – to terrorists (“violent protesters”) held in Israeli prisons.

So when Israel stops building in the Territories as a precondition to get Abbas to come to the negotiating table and he doesn’t, the PA gets a pass. When Abbas repeatedly and publicly rejects the legitimacy of the State of Israel, the PA gets a pass. When Abbas’s PA government presides over a corrupt regime rife with human rights violations enshrined into law, the PA gets a pass.

Compare this to Beinart’s examples of Israel’s free passes: Israel announced building in Jerusalem while Joe Biden was a guest (Israel has long maintained Jerusalem as its capital); Bibi rejected Obama’s suggestion for a peace deal (this was back in the days of the Arab Spring, and even Obama said these were “differences between friends”); and Bibi practically campaigned for Romney (no he didn’t).
The free passes, real or imagined, are different not just in degree, but in kind.

3) Beinart tells us that Ross says it’s the Palestinian’s fault they have no state. And this time Beinart concedes that Ross has evidence: three times in the last fifteen years Israel has offered the PA independence, and the PA balked each and every time. But – Peter shows us his winning card – Abbas also made an offer that Israel refused! Hem, that offer was a nonstarter, and Peter knows this. Just one example, it called for a Judenrein Palestine. Clearly this can not be considered a serious offer. As any observer of the conflict is well aware, the Israelis have made great strides in accommodation, while the Palestinians have made hardly any.

4) Beinart informs us that Ross accuses the Palestinians of being professional victims. But what do you want from them, one can hear Peter kvetch. They are denied so many basic human rights, specifically citizenship and the right to vote! And here I agree with old Peter, at least partially. Abbas has denied them the right to vote. And that is just one of man human rights violations perpetrated by the Abbas-led PA.

Peter, you have made an admirable attempt at dismantling Dennis Ross’s arguments, pushing your own agenda in the process. I only wish you proceeded with a greater degree of intellectual honesty. Cherry picking sources or citing half-truths is no way to go about it.

About the Author
Long-time Jerusalemite tired of influential foreign voices beating down on Israel. Come on you guys -- you know better!
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