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March 22, 2022 10:33 am

Peter Beinart Sinks Even Lower, Comparing Israel to Putin

avatar by Paul Schneider


Peter Beinart. Photo: Joe Mabel via Wikimedia Commons.

Peter Beinart has written, “It’s time to imagine a Jewish home that is not a Jewish state,” and later added that Jews were never entitled to a state in the first place. More recently, he has said that Israelis should seek repentance for the Nakba (Israel’s creation) by forfeiting Jewish sovereignty and allowing five million Palestinian refugees to “return” to the land inside the Green Line. For Beinart, the very existence of the Jewish state is an injustice, and the only proper solution is to dismantle it. To end the conflict, he maintains, there must be an end to Zionism.

In his latest effort to delegitimize the Jewish state, “Justifications for Destroying a People” (Jewish Currents), Beinart argues that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is worthy of Vladimir Putin.

The article’s subtitle is, “The arguments Russia’s government deploys to dehumanize Ukrainians are strikingly similar to the ones Israel’s government uses to dehumanize Palestinians.” Beneath that is a menacing picture of Putin.

Beinart then begins: “In the days since Russia launched its full-scale invasion, Ukrainians and their supporters have been lionized for the same forms of resistance to oppression for which Palestinians are routinely condemned.” For Beinart, if we approve of Ukrainians using Molotov cocktails, we shouldn’t condemn Palestinian terrorism or the countless attacks exclusively directed at civilians, including children. And the international boycott of Russia is a lot like the BDS movement. Makes sense, right?

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Pursuing the analogy, Beinart then goes on to play the race card: “In mainstream American discourse, Ukrainians, a mostly white and Christian people battling an American foe, are viewed as fully human, and thus entitled to fight for their freedom. Palestinians, a mostly nonwhite and non-Christian people battling an American ally, are not.” So if we could get over those prejudices, we would realize that Palestinian stabbing attacks and rocket barrages into civilian areas have the same moral value as Ukrainian attempts to fight off an unprovoked foreign invasion. Sure, that works.

Beinart argues that, just as Putin does with Ukraine, “Israeli politicians and commentators routinely link Palestinianism [whatever that is] and Nazism.” He doesn’t say who those Israelis are. But whatever they may or may not have said, there is in fact a long-standing link between Palestinian “resistance” and the Nazis themselves, as well as Nazi ideology.

It began with the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, leader of the Palestinian national movement during the Mandate period. An inveterate antisemite, the Mufti traveled to Germany, where he met with Hitler, sought an alliance with the Nazis, and asked them to help eliminate Jews from the Arab world. (Beinart disingenuously accuses “Israeli politicians and commentators” of falsely claiming that the Mufti “convinced Hitler to launch the Holocaust” itself.)

Hitler offered his support for the Arabs in Israel, and the Mufti’s plan came close to fruition. As Colin Shindler relates in his “History of Modern Israel”: “Had it not been for the victory at El Alamein, SS Obersturmbannfuhrer Walter Rauff would have ordered his Einsatzkommando to liquidate the Jews of Palestine. The Nazis expected local participation in their actions.”

As historian Efraim Karsh has documented, Nazi-style antisemitism, including the usual Nazi tropes, has continued among Palestinian officials to this day. “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is popular with the Palestinian Authority, and is often cited in its largest daily, al-Hayat al-Jadida. Palestinian students are indoctrinated with antisemitic ideology, much like in Nazi Germant. But in Beinart’s world, Israelis who highlight such truths are dehumanizing Palestinians.

And how does Hamas fit into Beinart’s analogy? Are they part of the righteous Palestinian resistance — freedom fighters, victimized by the Putinesque Israeli regime?

Beinart portrays Foreign Minister Yair Lapid as an alarmist for noting that the Hamas charter calls for a genocidal war against the Jewish state. Beinart does acknowledge that Hamas “has launched violent attacks.” But then he argues: “Hamas has neither carried out, nor tried to carry out, anti-Jewish genocide. Jews like Haaretz reporter Amrira Hass and Harvard scholar Sara Roy have lived for long stretches of time under its rule, disproving claims that what motivates Hamas is simply a desire to kill Jews.”

So the fact that two Jews have lived under Hamas and survived proves that we don’t need to worry. Of course, Hamas continues to aim thousands of rockets at Jewish civilians. But Beinart says it’s the Israelis who remind him of Putin. Go figure.

Paul Schneider is an attorney, writer and member of the Board of Directors of the American Jewish International Relations Institute (AJIRI), an affiliate of B’nai B’rith International.

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