Sunday, May 22nd | 22 Iyyar 5782

January 27, 2017 8:21 am

The ‘Optics’ of Dead Jews

avatar by Ruthie Blum

A victim being transported into an ambulance outside the West Bank supermarket where Palestinian teens went on a stabbing spree. Photo: Twitter.

A victim being transported into an ambulance outside the West Bank supermarket where Palestinian teens went on a stabbing spree. Photo: Twitter.

Columnist Peter Beinart warned this week that “unless they change course, [US ‎President] Donald Trump and [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu are going to ‎get Jews killed.”‎

Writing in The Forward about Palestinian threats of violence in response to Israel’s ‎authorization of 2,500 new housing units in existing settlements, and discussions in ‎Washington over a possible move of the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to ‎Jerusalem, Beinart hastily added that, “of course,” neither leader wants Jewish blood to ‎flow. ‎

Nor, he said, was he “trying to detract from the primary moral responsibility of those ‎Palestinians who detonate bombs or shoot guns or stab with knives. Palestinian terrorism ‎is inexcusable. It always has been. It always will be.”‎

And then he got to the crux of the piece: If Netanyahu ignores the assessments of ‎Israeli security experts — as well as the saber-rattling of a member of the Jordanian ‎government and chief Palestinian “peace” negotiator Saeb Erekat — he will be just as ‎guilty of the terrorism that is sure to ensue as those who perpetrated it.‎

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To give greater weight to his argument, Beinart first presented the positions of those who ‎favor Israeli settlement construction and the relocation of the US Embassy, and then ‎refuted their logic. ‎

One such position was that “Israel should never be cowed by the prospect of Palestinian ‎violence.”‎

‎”To do so,” he said, “would be to imply that Israel deserves some of the blame for that ‎violence, which is like blaming a woman who is raped for wearing a short skirt.”‎

Indeed. ‎

But here is where Beinart returned his own volley with a mighty whack. Unlike rape, he ‎wrote, which “is purely a product of male pathology, Palestinian violence … is a ‎pathological response to a genuine grievance.” Aha.‎

In other words, Israel really is at fault for getting raped — whether it wears dresses or ‎pants; curtsies or bows; begs or pleads; or fights back. It is to blame for the plight of the ‎Palestinians. In fact, if not for the “violence” of Jewish oppression, they would be ‎teaching their children to sing “Kumbaya” and plant flowers, instead of raising them to ‎become martyrs for Allah.‎

Yes, according to Beinart, “Snuffing out their hopes of ever tasting the basic freedoms ‎that David Friedman and Jared Kushner take for granted is violence.” Kudos for so ‎deftly killing two Jews — the incoming US ambassador to Israel, and Trump’s son-in-‎law/adviser — with one stone.‎

Beinart wrapped up his piece with a proverbial sigh and characteristic self-justification for ‎attacking the state he always professes to love. “We must say so now, before the sight of ‎dead Jews drives us all mad,” he wrote.‎

That Beinart has this view of the situation is not the least bit surprising. He is known for ‎his affiliation with the leftist organization J Street, whose “hold Israel responsible” stance ‎jibes perfectly with his own. ‎

Far more disturbing is the way in which this position has slipped into the discourse of ‎mainstream US Jewish groups, even those that do not consider Israel to be the real ‎culprit in the war on its legitimacy.‎

On Wednesday, for example, the American Jewish Committee released a statement ‎calling Israel’s authorization of new housing units in the West Bank “a gamble that ‎‎[could] further inflame an already difficult situation on the ground.”‎

According to AJC Chief Executive Officer David Harris, “Optics are important in ‎politics, and the optics of Israel’s announced settlement construction, so shortly after ‎President Trump took office, are not helpful.”‎

He continued: “Yes, the construction may be in those areas Israel intends to keep in any ‎possible deal with the Palestinians. And yes, the Trump administration may (or may not) ‎end up taking a different approach to this issue than its predecessor. … And while the ‎stark reality is that the biggest hurdle by far to an accord with the Palestinians remains ‎their incitement and intransigence, this announcement, alas, could hand anti-Israel forces ‎a PR victory.”‎

Unlike Beinart, who believes that Israel is at fault for Palestinian “incitement and ‎intransigence,” Harris is worried about the Jewish state’s image. He seems to think that its ‎already tarnished reputation among antisemites and members of the UN Security ‎Council should be sufficient cause for Netanyahu to keep his head down and not make ‎any more waves.‎

Though repugnant, the radical lens through which Beinart sees the Arab-Israeli conflict at ‎least steers him to a clear-cut conclusion, albeit false. Simply put, he is on the side of the ‎enemy.‎

The liberal view, held by the likes of Harris, is not nearly as hateful, but it is more ‎susceptible to manipulation by forces engaged in keeping Israel on the defensive. When a ‎Jewish leader calls on Netanyahu to worry about “optics,” he is participating in that ‎effort, rather than battling it.‎

The “sight of dead Jews,” as Beinart put it, is precisely what the world is marking Friday. ‎If there is one truism worth reiterating on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, it is ‎that no amount of capitulation or impeccable behavior can fend off genocidal hatred.‎

Ruthie Blum is the managing editor of The Algemeiner.

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