Beinart: Round 2

Posted on May 28, 2010 In Blog

Peter Beinart’s NYRB essay continues to yield debate and fallout.

Jeffrey Goldberg had a direct exchange with Peter and cited another who shows Peter’s misreading of history.

Leon Wieseltier took exception (and was then quoted out of context by Peter in return), and Len Saxe disputes Peter’s reading of the poll data he relies on to say young liberal Jews are disaffected from Israel.

We lodged two criticisms of Peter’s article the day it was released.

And, just to be more clear, to the degree we welcomed Peter’s article – while disagreeing with much of it – it was because, from a Religious Zionist perspective, premising support for Israel on whether the Jewish State is living up to being a “liberal democracy” is a recipe for trouble. From a Religious Zionist perspective, a Jew’s connection to Israel is premised upon principles of faith as well as the covenant of Jewish Peoplehood.

But now comes Peter’s exchange – again in the NYRB – with Abe Foxman.

Abe puts forward many of the critiques referenced above, and does so ably.

Disturbingly, Peter goes way beyond debating substance and drifts into stereotyping and calumny, saying: “the same sort of settler fanatics who burn Palestinian olive groves also assassinated an Israeli prime minister. The same ultra-Orthodox hooligans who burn Christian holy books also attack Jewish women trying to pray at the Western Wall.” He also slams Rav Ovadia Yosef and, apparently, anyone else in Israel who, we suppose, doesn’t agree with his view – or that of the editorial board of Ha’aretz – as to precisely what ought to happen.

Those who oppose re-dividing Jerusalem are not necessarily opposed to peace deal with the Arabs, they just might not be willing to have a deal “at any price.”

The same can be said for those who believe that Jews ought to be able to settle anywhere in the historic Land of Israel.

It’s easy, again especially to NYRB’s readership, to demonize those who disagree with you as “ultra-Orthodox” and fanatics all the while simplifying the complex issues Israel faces.

It’s sad that Peter Beinart has gone down that road.