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January 28, 2015 11:38 am

Peter Beinart Should Apologize to His Readers

avatar by Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn

Email a copy of "Peter Beinart Should Apologize to His Readers" to a friend

Peter Beinart. Photo: Center for American Progress Action Fund via flickr.

On January 15, noted Israel critic Peter Beinart declared that Palestinians who hate Israel never claim that they were inspired by anti-Israel incitement.

It didn’t take even a week for that to be refuted.

Just six days later, on January 21, a Palestinian who stabbed 12 Israelis on a Tel Aviv bus said he was inspired by “radical Islamic broadcasts.”

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Beinart is a CNN commentator, a columnist for Haaretz, and a fellow at a liberal think think, the New America Foundation. He made a splash in 2012 in the Jewish world with his book The Crisis of Zionism, in which he called for a boycott of Israelis who reside in areas beyond the pre-1967 armistice line.

Appearing on the “Voice of Israel” radio show on January 15, Beinart attempted to explain Palestinians hatred of Israel and Jews. Here’s what he said:

“I know a lot of Palestinians who hate Israel, in fact I would say almost all the Palestinians I know hate Israel, but when I ask them why they hate Israel, and I’ve talked many, many, many times with people about this, they don’t mention textbooks, or movies, or names of streets that have terrorists on them…But what they tell me, what I hear about, again and again and again, is the personal trauma and suffering that they and people they love have experienced.”

Hamza Matrouk, the 23 year-old Palestinian who stabbed and slashed a dozen Israeli bus passengers in Tel Aviv, told the police that he was motivated in part by “radical Islamic broadcasts that spoke of ‘reaching paradise’. ‘He said he decided to achieve that by carrying out an attack,’ a police spokesman said.”

A friend of Matrouk’s told the Palestinian news service Maan that the night before the attack, “Hamza and I hung out with friends in the camp until 11 p.m. and we had fun. He was laughing and kidding.” Strange – no hint of all the “trauma” and “suffering” that Peter Beinart thinks is what motivates Palestinian haters and terrorists.

Beinart made several other outrageous assertions in the radio interview.

For example, he said the cause of Palestinian opposition to Israel is that “for almost fifty years, millions and millions of people have lived under the authority of a state in which they lack citizenship, the right to vote, the right to live in the same legal system as their neighbors and the right to free movement.”

Beinart seems to have forgotten that Yitzhak Rabin ended the occupation of those “millions and millions” of people twenty years ago. In 1995, Rabin withdrew from the cities where more than 95% of the Palestinians reside. And Ariel Sharon withdrew from all of Gaza in 2005. Every thing that Beinart attributes to the imaginary “Israeli occupation” is, in fact, attributable to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. It is the PA which has refused to have an election since 2004, which determines their movement, and which created and administers its own legal system.

In another whopper, Beinart tried to prove that Palestinians have just as much reason as Israelis to be afraid: “We’re not the only ones who live in fear. Palestinians also live in fear–after all, many, many more of them, and many more of their children, die than Jewish children die…look at the number of Jewish versus Palestinian children who have died since the beginning of the First Intifada!”

This is what one might call Body Count Morality: more Palestinians have died, so they must be the victims and Israel must be the aggressors. By that logic, Germany, with more than seven million military and civilian casualties in World War II, must have been the victims, and America, with its 405,000 casualties, must have been the aggressor. For that matter, Beinart should be denouncing President Barack Obama right now as an aggressor, since ISIS has suffered many more casualties than the American pilots who have been bombing ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq.

Beinart’s comments about the “occupation” and the casualty figures are absurd enough. But it is his statement about the role of Palestinian incitement that deserves immediate attention, because it has been discredited so quickly and so thoroughly.

We know it is difficult for a person of strong convictions to publicly admit a mistake and apologize. And Peter Beinart certainly has very strong convictions. But to retain any shred of credibility as a serious political commentator, he needs to come clean now. The Tel Aviv stabber has slashed to pieces Beinart’s attempt to minimize the role of Palestinian incitement. Beinart should apologize.

The authors are president and chairman, respectively, of the Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia, and candidates on the Religious Zionist slate (www.VoteTorah.org) in the current U.S. World Zionist Congress elections.

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  • yehudi

    This was a well written piece exposing the sickness of Peter Brainfart.

  • Hill

    We had enough like him selling Jews out to the Nazis and helping kill them in the camps. He’s just another reject and should be stopped. This dhimmi will too outlive his usefulness and it won’t be soon enough.

  • I was impressed when I read his book by his total lack of embarassment or shame at the blatent use of sophistry on nearly every page.

  • Jonny

    While I don’t necessarily agree with everything Peter Beinart has to say, I don’t think this article was entirely fair.I suspect that the Palestinians Beinart was referring to were civilians; I doubt he was having friendly chats with Hamas militants. For most civilians it is probably fair to say that their hatred for Israel stems from the what they perceive as the atrocities committed by Israel towards them and others in their situation. The fact that a terrorist was inspired by radical broadcast does not refute this, and neither does laughing with friends.

    The second criticism of Beinart is a bit more complicated to address so I will leave that as is, other than to say that there is in arguably at least a restriction of palestinian movement by the Israelis. Whether or not that restriction is justified is immaterial to the above criticism.

    Now for the last point, about palestinian fear. The author turned it into a question of who the aggressors are, which seems to be completely irrelevant to the comment. He simply stated that Palestinians live in fear, and jusging by their body count, regardless of whose fault it is, I imagine that they do.

    For the record, I am not a liberal. However, I think arguments and criticism should be presented fairly, and in my opinion, this one wasn’t.

  • victoria brandeis

    BAG HIS WORDS AND BLAZE THEM IN GOLD SO THAT THEY WILL ALWAYS SHOW THE HATRED THE WORLD HOLD.

    EVIL…..AND, BECAUSE THIS SNIPIT IS IN THIS BLOG THEN I AS WELL MUST STATE THAT I DO BELIEVE THESE INDIVIDUALS BEHIND THIS COLUMN MAY ALSO HOLD ANTI VIEWS…..NOT SURE WHAT ANTI-VIEWS IT IS BUT I AM ON A ROLL TO DISCOVER….

    AND IT STILL DOES NOT CHANGE MY MIND THAT 80% OF THE WORLD IS LIVING IN A GRAVE THAT SIMPLY CLOSES IN ITS OWN TIME.

  • JOHN TRAIN

    As a Christian I am surprised and dismayed that the Jewish community does not call out Peter Beinart as a liar who is a threat to Israel’s survival. As a taxpayer I resent paying his wages to be a professor where he’s propagandize his students.

  • Yosef Chaim

    Beinart is the classic self-hating Jew.

  • Beinart apparently agrees with Houthi, whose slogan says “Death to America. Death to Israel. Damn the Jews.”
    http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2014/02/houthi-official-explains-slogan-death.html#.VMk5TbDF_To
    Israel is the most hated country on earth. Beinart has jumped on the bandwagon.

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