The End of Israel and Peter Beinart as the Last Man
Like the moon, Peter Beinart follows a predictable cycle. You won’t hear about him for months. But the more he’s ignored, the more his rhetoric intensifies. Eventually, he gets your attention, attacking Israel so outlandishly and ferociously that he drifts again into relevance.
With his latest New York Times screed — “I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State” — he joins Israel’s most committed enemies with his call for an end to the Jewish state.
The article resurrects much of the traditional nonsense from Beinart’s writing in the past: fabricating Israeli crimes, overstating Palestinians’ desire for peace, trivializing Palestinian terrorism against Jews, and throwing in Jew-talk by which he seeks to legitimize his extremist anti-Israel views.
This time Beinart radically rewrites the historical record by claiming Zionism isn’t about having a Jewish state at all, but rather a “Jewish homeland,” whatever that is. The “state part” of Zionism, he argues, was later injected into the movement largely because of Holocaust trauma.
When liberals like Dan Shapiro, Obama’s former ambassador to Israel, dismiss your assertions as “utopian nonsense,” you know you’re an extremist. When you earn praise from arch Israel-hater Linda Sarsour — “Maybe Zionists will listen to one of their own” — you know you’ve joined the ranks of the anti-Israel fanatics.
The first response to Beinart’s call for an end to Israel is to place it in the context of its source. While many journalists have made an art of trashing Israel, Beinart has made it his career. He is known for little else. Together with other haters like Max Blumenthal, Beinart has cornered an industry catering to those with an insatiable thirst for dirt on Israel. Jews who attack Israel always make the news. The limited success of his book The Crisis of Zionism gave Beinart the idea that mixing one’s Jewish identity into cocktails with an anti-Israel twist is a fabulous way to sell an op-ed.
Now Beinart strips off his Zionist costume entirely, baring his true ideas for all to see. Beinart, like all Israel-haters, doesn’t have a problem with Israel’s policies — but with the fact that Israel exists at all. His is an irrational hatred.
Classical Zionists, Beinart argues, never wanted a state but a homeland. Few lies about Israel’s founding have ever been so blatant. The very title of Theodor Herzl’s bible of modern-Zionism was called Der Judenstaat — The Jewish State. But such subterfuge is classic Peter Beinart, hoping that his audience is ignorant enough never to call him out on his facts.
That the Jews always had a homeland and a presence there is also left unsaid.
When Herzl wrote his book, Jews living in Israel had second-class status and paid a special tax to their Ottoman overlords. Things worsened under the British, with Jews being regularly slaughtered by Arab neighbors enraged by incoming Jewish refugees escaping the jaws of Jew-hatred in Europe. Thus the Jews, fed up with miserable lives and untimely deaths, organized and began to push for a state. Beinart, moreover, argues that the Palestinians’ share of Israel has diminished, when the opposite is true.
Beyond ignoring history, Beinart blinds his readers from other key facts, too: he leaves out Hamas’ stated goal of annihilating world-Jewry “wherever they are found,” or Fatah’s recent unity pact with them, notwithstanding Hamas’ genocidal goals. He doesn’t speak of Hezbollah’s 150,000 rocket-arsenal or Iran’s confessed ambitions to bring nuclear annihilation upon Israel.
As he pushes the boundaries of his revulsion for Israel, Beinart seems to revel in his “last man” status, the only Jew righteous enough to call for evil Israel’s end, while the rest of the Jewish community remains steadfastly devoted to its survival.
Maimonides in the Mishneh Torah speaks of how deep the Jewish love for Israel is: “The greatest of the sages would kiss the borders of Israel, kiss its rocks, and roll around in its dust.”
There is simply no separating the Jewish connection to Israel, and there never will be.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the author of The Israel Warrior, Judaism for Everyone, and Renewal: The Seven Central Values of the Jewish Faith. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @RabbiShmuley.