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July 9, 2020 12:26 pm

New York Times Beinart Op-Ed Calling for End of Israel Met With Scorn

avatar by Ira Stoll


Peter Beinart. Photo: Joe Mabel via Wikimedia Commons.

A New York Times op-ed calling for the elimination of the Jewish state is causing a furor.

The opinion piece, by Peter Beinart, who reports earned $165,275 in 2019 as a professor at the taxpayer-funded City University of New York School of Journalism, appears under the online headline “I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State.”

The article proposes that Israel be replaced with a country Beinart calls “Israel-Palestine,” “a Jewish home that is also, equally, a Palestinian home,” “a Jewish home that is not a Jewish state.”

It was met with widespread derision. The global communications director for the American Jewish Committee (AJC), Avi Mayer, tweeted, “The most enthusiastic proponents of a one-state non-solution in Israel-Palestine all seem to have one thing in common: they don’t live here. Must be nice to pontificate from afar, when you know you won’t have to live with the catastrophe you’re trying to force on two peoples.”

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He added, “let’s be clear: you’re no friend of the Jews if you deny us our right to self-determination and you’re not a liberal Zionist if you want Israel to disappear.”

A senior contributing editor at The Jerusalem Post, Herb Keinon, tweeted, “Peter Beinart: I no longer believe in a Jewish state. The Jewish State: No one here cares much what Peter Beinart believes.”

A Twitter thread from Dan Shapiro, who served as ambassador to Israel in the Obama administration, called Beinart’s plan “utopian nonsense.”

“Calling for one state for Israelis and Palestinians is neither original, nor a remotely viable solution to this long-running conflict. It’s a disaster in the making for Israelis, the Jewish people, Palestinians, and US interests,” Shapiro wrote. “His proposal means the elimination of the very purpose of Zionism: the sovereignty in their homeland that the Jewish people deserve and history proved repeatedly they suffered grievously without. It would be an immense historical tragedy… It would be awful in surprising ways. Imagine a parliamentary debate on the right of return of Palestinians, or curtailing the right of Jews. A society torn apart. Or imagine the merging of the IDF and PA security forces into one military. Who thinks that will work out well?”

Writing in The Times of Israel, author Daniel Gordis, who used to host a podcast with Beinart, warned that under Beinart’s plan, “the revitalization of Jewish life that is Israel’s hallmark would end … Jews would quickly become a minority here, just as they were in Europe. They would be surrounded by hostile masses, just as they were in Europe, and that would certainly (and rapidly) destroy the Jewish confidence that has been at the core of the Judaism’s revitalization in Israel. In other words, Beinart cares more about the future of the Palestinians than he does about the future of Judaism’s richness.”

Gordis called a longer Beinart essay in Jewish Currents from which The New York Times op-ed was drawn “dishonest” and “manipulative,” noting it was full of “an array of misrepresentations and omissions.” Gordis faulted Beinart for displaying “the cultural fatigue, intellectual sloppiness or willed oblivion-to-consequences that are now emblematic of America’s youth.”

“I find it astonishing that people care what Peter Beinart thinks,” tweeted a vice president at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Jonathan Schanzer.

Like other recent New York Times coverage of Israel, the Beinart article tries to portray the Jewish state like Apartheid-era South Africa.

“Divided societies are most stable and most peaceful when governments represent all their people,” Beinart writes. “It’s the lesson of South Africa, where Nelson Mandela endorsed armed struggle until Blacks won the right to vote.”

Beinart also inaccurately describes Zionism as primarily a reaction to the Holocaust, when in fact it long predated that.

“This Holocaust lens leads many Jews to assume that anything short of Jewish statehood would mean Jewish suicide. But before the Holocaust, many leading Zionists did not believe that,” Beinart writes.

Actually, Herzl’s Der Judenstaat was published in 1896, almost a half-century before the Holocaust. For thousands of years before that, Jews prayed for a restoration of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel.

The word “I” appears three times in the headline and subheadline of the Beinart article. It’s the first word of each of the first two paragraphs of the article, and it appears nine times in the first eight sentences. It’s a telltale sign the article really isn’t about Israel, or even about the Palestinians, but about Beinart, who seems to find himself to be his own most interesting subject.

If this is what the post-James Bennet regime means at The New York Times editorial page, it isn’t a promising sign. Rather, it’s a sad statement that, in the midst of a nationwide heightened sensitivity to bias against minority groups, The New York Times would choose to publish an article calling for the elimination of the one country in the world where a Jewish majority has self-determination. There are nearly 200 countries in the world: the one the Times wants to wipe off the map just happens to be the one the Jews run?

The Times accompanies the Beinart piece with links to “Other views from Opinion on Israel-Palestine,” making it look like this is a topic for reasonable debate — should Israel be eliminated, or not? This may help drive clicks in New York or distract the masses in Iran from their government-imposed misery, but the fact that the Beinart article was greeted so dismissively from Israel is an encouraging sign that for Israelis themselves, at least, that ship has long since sailed.

Anyone who wants to eliminate Israel needs to deal, at the moment, with a government led by Prime Minister Netanyahu and a nuclear-armed Israel Defense Forces. Forget about it. They aren’t going anywhere, totally regardless of whether Beinart “believes” or doesn’t believe in them.

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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