Beinart’s Philosophy is Hardly Zionism
by Josh Hasten
Zion Square is probably the most popular downtown Jerusalem thoroughfare for Israelis and tourists alike, connecting the Ben Yehuda Pedestrian Mall to Jaffa Street. On Independence Day the square is packed with thousands of revelers celebrating the establishment of the State, and the return to Zion after thousands of years of Jewish exile.
It is thus ironic that “Zion Square” is also the name chosen by extreme left-wing writer Professor Peter Beinart for the title of his blog featured on the Daily Beast website. That irony is derived from the fact that Beinart’s blog, along with his upcoming book titled, “The Crisis of Zionism,” or a recent incendiary New York Times op-ed called “To Save Israel, Boycott the Settlements,” prove that his philosophies should in no way shape or form be perceived as a legitimate form of Zionism or a celebration of the existence of a modern day Jewish State.
According to Beinart the goal of his blog is “to confront the ethical responsibilities of a world in which Jewish fortunes have radically changed.” By his rationale “because the Jewish establishment still depicts Jews as victims, this celebration of power comes without the burden of responsibility. Again and again, Jewish power is described merely as a vehicle for Jewish survival. As if Jewish history means that Jews—unlike other human beings—can use power only to survive and not to destroy.”
To explain it simply, Beinart believes that Jews in Israel today are not only far from being victims, but power-bearers who he feels abuse that power to exploit the Palestinians in the form of Israel’s “settlement” policy.
He is so anti a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria that in his New York Times article he calls for that area to be dubbed “nondemocratic Israel” and goes as far as encouraging a worldwide Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (B.D.S.) initiative against his fellows Jews who have businesses located there. He particularly calls on American Jewry to take the lead in such a movement.
The goal of Judea and Samaria B.D.S according to Beinart would be to raise awareness of an Israel that “systematically oppresses West Bank Palestinians.” And he claims that several Israeli Prime Ministers agree that “Israel’s continued rule there could eventually lead to a South African-style apartheid system.” Those “moderate” settlers affected by a B.D.S says Beinart should either “agitate for a two-state solution that would make possible their incorporation into democratic Israel. Or they should move.”
While Israel is no pushover, since its establishment more than 63 years ago Israel has officially been on “emergency high alert” status every single day. That’s like the United States being on constant “code red” terror alert, on the Homeland Security National alert advisory scale established by the Bush administration post 9/11.
With over six decades of Arab aggregation – wars, and every type of murderous terror attack imaginable from stoning, shootings, lynchings, all the way to suicide bombings and 13,000 rockets fired from Gaza which last week kept one million Israelis within seconds from a bomb shelter, is there no doubt that Israel remains a victim?
It’s not a role we savor, it’s just our reality, which has nothing to do with an Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria as Beinart would have one believe. There was plenty of aggression, war, and terror before we returned to our ancient heartland as a result of the 1967 defensive war of survival, and the violence continues today regardless of territorial concessions including the uprooting of “settler” communities – with Gaza being the ultimate example.
In reality, a B.D.S. campaign against businesses in Judea and Samaria is nothing short of racism plain and simple. How else would one describe boycotting a business due to the owner’s ethnicity and geography?
Additionally, settlement B.D.S won’t prove his false claim that Israel oppresses the Palestinians but will in fact harm not only Jewish residents of those areas, but the Arabs who depend on those businesses for their livelihood.
According to the Manufacturers Association of Israel, in 2010, some 22,000 Palestinians were employed in construction, agriculture, manufacturing and service industries in the “settlements.” How will they make a living if businesses shut down due to Beinart’s absurd and discriminatory suggestion?
Such a move will also have a negative impact on the future Arab workforce, as more than 600 Arabs are currently enrolled at the Ariel University Center of Samaria sitting side by side their Jewish classmates studying towards degrees in higher education. Where will they go to school if their university loses its funding?
In addition, for Beinart to even put the words “Israel” and “Apartheid South Africa” in the same sentence shows how far from a supporter of Zion he really is. With 11 Arab representatives in our Knesset, an Arab Supreme Court Justice, with and with Arab minorities in Israel faring better financially, socially, and culturally then in any other Arab country in the region, Israel is far from an Apartheid State.
The same holds true in Judea and Samaria where thanks to Israeli assistance PA Arabs, who by the way do pick their own leaders within the Palestinian Authority electorate a fact Beinart conveniently ignores, are living in better conditions than most of the Arab world.
In fact, a 2011 study publicized by Minister Gilad Erdan shows that PA Arabs are fourth in the Arab world in having access to Internet, and are the third most educated group (Israeli Arabs lead in both categories). The situation might not be perfect, but it’s preposterous to use the term “Apartheid”.
And finally, as a “settler” whom Beinart might describe as a “moderate” by the fact that I live just over the so-called Green Line,” I have no intention of ever “agitating” for the establishment of a Palestinian State in Judea and Samaria. All concessions in the form of territory Israel has made to the PA since the start of Oslo has only led to spilt Jewish blood. Setting up a foreign entity on the hilltops overlooking Tel-Aviv and our international airport, would be a mistake of epic proportions.
In addition, despite Beinart’s suggestion, I’m not moving. If Jews can live in Paris, Rome, or New York, there is no reason why they can’t live in a place called Judea. Maybe it is Beinart that needs to move – from New York to Israel to educate himself on what Zionism and even Zion Square are all about.