Liberal writer Peter Beinart’s latest oped published in the New York Times Wednesday has sparked outrage among U.S. Jewish leaders for calling for the end of Israel.
The opinion article, entitled “I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State,” calls for Israel to be replaced with a binational, unitary state called “Israel-Palestine.”
“Israel-Palestine can be a Jewish home that is also, equally, a Palestinian home,” writes Beinart in the July 8 piece.
The head of the American Jewish Committee compared Beinart’s remarks to those of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who called for a similar “solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a 2001 oped published by the Times.
“NYTimes’ opeds calling for the end of Israel, the tiny sliver of land where Jews exercise sovereignty in their ancestral home: -Muammar Qaddafi, 1/21/09 –Peter Beinart, 7/8/20 Can anyone recall the NYTimes publishing opeds urging the end of any other nation (& UN member)? Hmm,” Harris wrote.
Former U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro derided Beinart’s plan as “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 on Twitter.
His proposal means the elimination of the very purpose of Zionism: the sovereignty in their homeland that the Jewish people deserve and history proved and history proved repeatedly they suffered grievously without. It would be an immense historical tragedy….While one democratic state sounds superficially appealing to some American ears, the reality would be a highly impractical perpetuation of the conflict within one state, a society deeply riven, and nearly inevitably, far worse violence. The US would lose a key partner.
1. With all due respect to @PeterBeinart, 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.
— Dan Shapiro (@DanielBShapiro) July 8, 2020
Author Daniel Gordis, who once hosted a podcast with Beinart, denounced Beinart’s ideas — both in the Times op-ed and the original essay published in the left-wing Jewish Currents — as “an astonishing array of sleights of hand and misrepresentations.”
He notes that fulfilling Beinart’s vision would render Jews a minority their homeland but “surrounded by hostile masses.”
Columnist Ira Stoll points out Beinart’s assertion that Zionism is primarily a reaction to the Holocaust is false.
“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,” Stoll writes in the Algemeiner.
Political analyst Tom Rogan similarly dismisses Beinart’s historical claims as erroneous.
Beinart writes: “When Catholics became equal political partners, the violence largely stopped. It’s the lesson of South Africa, where Nelson Mandela endorsed armed struggle until Blacks won the right to vote. History shows that when people gain their freedom, violence declines.”
This is not so.
History shows that violence declines when warring peoples embrace a mutually respected political enterprise. There are no indications that anything remotely like this could be possible in any sort of unitary Israeli-Palestinian state. Israelis support a democratic state bound to the secular rule of law. Many and perhaps most Palestinians (and certainly all of the ones in power) seek a state that subordinates democracy to an enshrined Sunni Islamist theological identity.
He adds a unitary state would be a “terribly painful mistake.”
Beinart on Thursday addressed some of the objections that have been raised since the article’s publication, beginning with concerns of another round of Palestinian violence. Beinart expressed his hope that the next movement to emerge would be nonviolent because a violent one “would make it easier for Israel to respond in brutal ways.”
I spoke with @PeterBeinart about his essay supporting a one-state solution. I tried to dig deeper into his thinking and also raise some of the objections I've seen in the days since the piece went up.
Here, for example, is what he says about the possibility of violence. pic.twitter.com/mY3PZTe5VA
— Ben Sales (@BenjaminSales) July 9, 2020