Beinart and the crisis of liberal Zionism
(Mondoweiss) -- by Philip Weiss --
...I was encouraged last month after [Peter] Beinart's appearance at the Jewish Federations annual assembly, where he said honestly that there is only one state right now between the river and the sea, and for Israel truly to be a democracy, it must extend citizenship to everyone who lives there--"complete equality of social and political rights."...
I've interpreted these statements as meaning that Beinart is calling for voting rights for Palestinians in the West Bank-- in this post, for instance. But after I published that, Beinart tweeted that I'm wrong:
Peter BeinartFair enough. Beinart, who used to give private sessions to AIPAC audiences, and who employs a word (Pals) that offends some Palestinians, has always said that he's a Zionist. "I believe in Israel as a Jewish and a democratic state," he said in the Federations talk I trumpeted. This is a man who puts an Israeli flag in his kids' room.
✔@PeterBeinart Not sure where Weiss got this but I've never advocated W Bank Pals voting in Israel. Shld have own state. ping.fm/Zihav 9 Jan 12
Still: color me confused.
The "belief" in Israel as a Jewish and democratic state can more properly be described as blind faith given the fact that for 45 years Israel has controlled the lives of millions of people who don't have a right to vote. Israel's military induction policy is more racist than our army's induction policy of World War II. Israel's governing coalitions are as racist as the Jim Crow south. The utter dissonance between Jewish governance and democracy is truly the "crisis of liberal Zionism."
Again, though, this is not some fresh crisis. Hannah Arendt pointed this out in 1948 when Israel was founded in violence against Arabs. The Palestinian crisis has been continual since the Nakba. Today Palestinians under occupation are rightsless, while Palestinians in Israel say they are second-class citizens.
If he hopes to maintain his reputation for intellectual honesty, and speak to a wider audience than Jews whose blood runs blue and white, Beinart has a responsibility to explain: When is the Palestinian crisis going to end? What real likelihood is there of creating a viable Palestinian state, after 21 years of a sham peace process, and following a year in which Israel broke all records for settlement expansion?
How long should the Tamimi family--whose son Mustafa was killed merely for insisting that his village should have access to its only well-- have to wait for privileged American Zionists to work out their views of Israeli borders and constitution?
This is the problem inherent in Beinart's project. He has set out to resolve the contradictions between Jewish and democratic, sort of like a Soviet propagandist trying to resolve the contradictions between Communism and freedom in the 1980s. Given what Israel has become, you cannot resolve these contradictions. And so Beinart has made a choice: Jewish over democratic...MORE...LINK
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