I write articles like this one because popular columnists such as Peter Beinart have the reach and the power to misinform many readers.
In a recent article on the traditionally leftist and Jewish “Forward” site, Peter Beinart has again revealed himself as a “know nothing.” Or maybe he just knows “little.” His pedigree and education (academic parents, studied history, political science, and international relations at Yale University and Oxford University) describe one who could be brilliant. But today, Beinart’s background has produced an intelligent, intellectual, witty and sophisticated snot, one who happily disparages the State of Israel as if it were one of the worst countries on earth.
Beinart again exhibits this trait in his July 15 article castigating Joe Biden, who Beinart uses as a foil to bash Israel. Why Biden? For omitting Israel from his list of “countries following an illiberal, authoritarian course,” which included Russia, China, Turkey, the Philippines, and Hungary. Beinart says Biden could have added the following countries whose governments are increasingly contemptuous of human rights and the rule of law: India, Poland, Brazil and even Italy. “But the most glaring exception is Israel.”
Beinart accuses Prime Minister Netanyahu (Bibi) of seeking to “neuter” Israel’s courts and “silence” its critics.
Bibi, who is facing indictment on several charges, would surely like to make sure he won’t be prosecuted while leading the government. He loudly proclaims his innocence and, perhaps justifiably, sees himself as Israel’s indispensable leader. But Israel’s government is not run by one man, so there is no danger of “neutering” or “silencing.” In fact, Israel’s democracy is among the world’s loudest and most vibrant.
Beinart says that Bibi “rules millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” whom he describes as “permanent non-citizens without due process, free movement or the right to vote for the government that controls their lives.”
Hardly; the Palestinian Authority was established in 1993 under Yasser Arafat. His successor as president, Mahmoud Abbas, is currently in year 16 of his 4-year term! Is that Israel’s doing? Certainly, Abbas is the one responsible for PA citizens living without due process and without the chance to exercise their preferences in a twelve-years overdue (and counting) election.
As for “free movement,” Israel doesn’t allow Palestinian Arabs, who are Israel’s self-declared enemies, to enter Israel without a permit. This prudence is certainly legitimate. Israel also maintains road blocks and other means in Judea and Samaria to minimize terror attacks emanating from PA-controlled areas. (Concurrently, more than 100,000 Arab workers have work permits and many more sneak into Israel to work illegally.) All responsible governments would authorize similar precautions to reduce terror attacks on its citizens. But Beinart castigates Netanyahu and the Israeli government for maintaining it vigilance, not the Palestinian Arabs whose acts of terror necessitate strict controls.
The situation of the residents of Gaza is even worse, but that stems from its Hamas leadership, not from Israel’s defensive measures. In 2005, Israel (mistakenly) withdrew all its troops and evacuated 8,000 Jewish residents from the area. At that time, the Jewish communities were flourishing. In short order, an increased onslaught – thousands – of rockets and missiles were unleashed against Israel from Gaza. (This continues until today.) The valuable greenhouses and agricultural fields left behind were destroyed, and the high hopes of Israel’s government and Israelis for Gaza’s social and economic progress were dashed. For this, Beinart castigates Netanyahu, not the Gazans.
Beinart urges Biden to greatly reduce the military aid that the US gives to Israel.
Israel receives more US military aid than any other country, but repays the aid with advanced intelligence and weapons development shared with the US.
Beinart wants to prohibit US aid from being used for the detention of Palestinian children who are suspected of terrorism and are detained under stringent Israeli legal supervision. Beinart describes these incidents as lacking even the semblance of due process.
Minors, mostly those in their late teens, are apprehended for committing terrorist acts. They are given due process under Israeli law. But they’re not treated as kindly or gently as Beinart wishes. Perhaps the American government would be nicer to young, nascent terrorists. However, the US is not located in the Middle East, where coddling terrorists is not a favored policy. (Ironically, the Israeli government faces constant criticism from Israelis for being too lenient with suspects and prisoners.)
Beinart fears that destroying the hope of a Palestinian state will eventually end the Palestinian Authority, bringing chaos to the West Bank or a return to the direct Israeli control which Israel maintained from 1967 until the 1993 Oslo Agreement, either of which will have grave security costs for Israel, he says.
Bibi was against the two-state solution, then supported the idea when he thought the PA wanted to negotiate, and finally returned to opposing it when it became clear that the Palestinian Arabs are not interested in having a state, “living side by side in peace with Israel.” What they want is an Arab state to replace Israel.
Former Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren said in a recent article (OctavianReport.com), “I think that not a few Sunni Arab leaders have internalized the seeming fact that the Palestinians are historically incapable of saying the word ‘yes.’ They have never said ‘yes’ to any peace talks. Not for the British in 1937. Not the U.N. in 1947. Not to Bill Clinton. Not to George W. Bush. These are all two-state solutions. All of them. Very generous two-state solutions. They said ‘no.’” Former Israeli prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert also had (vastly overgenerous) offers rejected. Beinart ignores Palestinian Arab rejectionism, placing all the blame on Israel.
Beinart adds that Israel’s blockage has made Gaza unfit for human habitation will eventually lead, in the words of Israeli environmentalist Gideon Bromberg, to “plagues and infections… that could cost a great many lives” not only in Gaza but in Israel as well.
I hope that many lives in Gaza and in Israel will not be lost. But Gaza is such a “bad actor” that even Egypt, the largest Arab state, is blockading Gaza, a fact which Beinart neglects to mention. Beinart should blame those responsible for their own conditions, the Arabs in Gaza who favored Hamas in their one and only election, not Egypt and Israel, who are forced to use constraints in self defense.
Despite the fact that Israel allows an incredible amount of humanitarian goods to enter Gaza almost daily, Hamas still confiscates as many dual use materials as it wants to continue to build attack tunnels and develop weapons to destroy Israel. It also takes food staples for its members. Hamas keeps most Gazans in “unfit” circumstances, while its leadership lives high on the hog. One has to be willfully blind to Arab negligence to blame Israel for conditions there.
At the same time, there is affluence in Gaza, with beautiful homes and restaurants, hotels, malls, stores and cafes. But these are not for ordinary Gazans, just the ruling class.
Peter Beinart is making a very good living as a Jewish critic, writer, and “public intellectual” who unfairly vilifies Israel. There is no lack of Jew haters and impossibly-liberal Jews who like to hear Jews bash Israel and hold Israel to the world’s highest standards, while ignoring the Palestinian Arabs’ responsibility for their status as the “poor Palestinians” who never received a state of their own. Wake up! What the most powerful Palestinian Muslims want is an end to Israel and the slaughter of Jews. Don’t take my word for it; just listen to what they say and observe what they do.
There is a bright side: Beinart hasn’t blamed Israel for Iran – at least not yet.