Thursday, May 27, 2010

More on Beinart, Liberal Zionism & the Real Failure: An Unwillingness to Look Reality in the Face

Noah Pollak articulates everything that's wrong with Beinart's assessment and puts his finger on the true malaise that has infected so much of liberal American Jewry when it comes to Israel.
Worth reading in its entirety.

Peter Beinart and the Destruction of Liberal Zionism

Because the history of the peace process repudiates so many of liberalism’s most cherished premises, liberalism is increasingly repudiating Israel, and doing so in a perfectly logical fashion: with people like Beinart now saying that Israel is not in fact an admirable country and that it deserves to be thrown out of the company of liberal nations. In this way, the failure of the liberal vision is transformed from being a verdict on liberalism to being a verdict on Israel.

It is Israel, we are now admonished, that has been dishonest and aggressive and unwilling to compromise. Believing this is the only way to avoid confronting the real problem, which is liberalism’s inability to reconcile its beliefs about human nature with the cruel functioning of humans in practice.

Beinart writes as if none of the tragedies of the past two decades happened, or if they did happen, that Israelis, unique among peoples, may not allow themselves to acquire any fears or resentments or lessons. Even Shimon Peres, one of Israel’s greatest doves, understands what has transpired, telling the Wall Street Journal a few days ago: "I am not surprised that so many Israelis lost their trust when they're being attacked time after time, time after time." Lost their trust indeed: the Meretz/Labor peace-process faction held 56 Knesset seats in 1992. Today they have 16. Normally in politics, such a massive shift in public opinion is accompanied by genuine inquiry about why it happened. Beinart is unreflective. It must be because of the settlers, or racism, or AIPAC.

Beinart has thus joined a legion of others in the burgeoning profession of being an Israel Scold. Israel Scolds have adopted a set of condescending attitudes toward Israelis, their recent history, and their political choices, demanding that they never allow the cruelties of reality to undermine their faith in the promise of the progressive vision. The distilled pleading of Beinart is merely a series of demands that Israelis refuse to learn from experience: how dare they allow any hostility to Arabs creep into their politics; how dare they vote for Avigdor Lieberman, a populist who plays to the less-than-perfectly liberal Russian immigrants; how dare they lose faith in the peace process and the liberal hopefulness that animated it. Most important: how dare they upset the comfortable ideological existence of American Jews, whose acceptability to their liberal peers depends in no small degree on their willingness to join in pillorying Israel over the failure of the peace process -- a failure, alas, that is not Israel’s but liberalism’s.


Anonymous said...

interesting article...(I read the long version)
I agree with a lot of it. My question is, where does it leave us in terms of a solution.
I'm for a two state solution.But if one believes that most Palestinians are of Arafat's mind, and duplicitous manner, then we appear to be in for permanent war.....
.....I don't really have an clear insight as to the mindset of Palestinians; although I'm sure that, as with Israeli's (and all humans),
that mindset has a mercurial malleability, heavily influenced by current events.

David Brumer said...

Yes, it does pose a big problem. Probably why Daniel Gordis' subtitle of his book, "Saving Israel" is "How the Jewish People Can Win A War that May Never End"
(see my review in 'Publications' column).
My own take is that as new leadership emerges among the Palestinians that can supersede the obstructionists, peace will be more achievable. Sadly, we may be far from that day. In the meantime, people like Beinart bring us no closer by disseminating half-baked notions of current Middle Eastern realities.

George Jochnowitz said...

For leftists, anti-Zionism takes precedence over every other issue. Beinart has stepped over the line and become a leftist. He therefore adopted their defining trait. Like feminists, Beinart doesn't care about honor murders of daughters by their fathers everywhere in the world of Islam. Like gay-rights activists, Beinart doesn't care about the hangings of gay teenagers in Iran and honor murders of gays among Palestinians. All other issues are subordinate to hating Israel.
Read the Hamas Charter, Beinart!