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There is no truth at all to Beinart’s claim that it is Israel that has refused to make peace with the Palestinians. The Palestinian leadership refused generous Israeli proposals for a Palestinian state alongside Israel in 2000 and 2008. They now refuse even to talk to Israel’s government without preconditions. For that matter, the Palestinian Arab leaders refused the proposal of the United Nations General Assembly in 1947 for a Palestinian state twice the size of the present “West Bank” and Gaza Strip combined—which Israel accepted. Of course the Palestinian leadership has, since 1947, refused even pro forma to accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. It still refuses to do so.
But as outrageous as Beinart’s outright falsehoods are, his omission-distortions and false implied assumptions are more damaging because the listener may not even be aware of them.
Beinart repeatedly denounces Israel for denying the Palestinians equal rights with Israelis, without mentioning that the Palestinians are waging war on Israel, and have been doing so continuously for the past 65 years. No nation has ever granted equal rights to members of a nation at war with them. Nor can any nation that is being subjected to armed aggression and siege afford to do so. The Palestinians have been waging a relentless war against Israelis for at least 92 years, even before the independent state of Israel was established. The conflict has been an extraordinarily brutal war replete with war crimes such as blowing up civilians on buses, street corners and restaurants, executing children as hostages, and beating infants to death. That war is still very much in progress, as Beinart and everyone who reads the daily newspapers knows full well.
Beinart’s assumption that a state is undemocratic unless it grants equality of rights to everyone who lives under its jurisdiction is not valid even in relation to peaceful communities. Puerto Ricans living in their own country cannot vote for president or elect voting members of Congress, although they are subjected to the rule of the U.S government and to U.S.military “occupation.” The inhabitants of the U.S.-ruled Virgin Islands are not even allowed to elect their own governor. The inhabitants of American Samoa and the Federated States of Micronesia in the Pacific region do not have the rights of American citizens, although they are subjected to the rule of Washington. And the people of these territories are not even at war with the United States and never have been. If Peter Beinart really believes that the right to vote and all other citizenship rights must be extended to every one living under a nation’s jurisdiction, why doesn’t he tour the country demanding these rights for Puerto Ricans, Virgin Islanders, Samoans, and Micronesians subject to American “occupation”?
Beinart describes the Jewish suburb of Hebron, Kiryat Arba, as a “remote” settlement without mentioning that it is all of 13 miles from Israel’s parliament building in Jerusalem or about the same distance as Washington’s Dulles International Airport is from the White House and the Capitol building. Nor does he mention that Jews lived in Hebron continuously for almost three thousand years before they were forced to leave as a result of the Arab pogroms of 1929. Kiryat Arba is thus only a resettlement of a very ancient Jewish “settlement.” The revived community was put outside the old city of Hebron only because the Jordanian occupiers had seized the old Jewish quarter of Hebron and given it to Arab merchants. The Israeli government, which actually favors Arabs over Jews whenever there are property disputes, has refused to permit Jews to return to the Jewish-owned but Arab-seized Jewish quarter in the old city of Hebron, thus necessitating formation of a new suburb for the city’s Jewish quarter.
Beinart does mention that the “settlement” of Ariel is thirteen miles inside the “Palestinian territories,” but only in the context of expressing indignation at Israel permitting some “settlement growth” in a place so ”deep inside” Palestinian territory. He does not mention that Israel’s pre-1967 “border” (actually a temporary military armistice line) nearest to Ariel is all of nine miles from the Mediterranean Sea. This would make it exceptionally easy for an Arab army to cut Israel in two in five minutes and drive the Jews into the sea if Israel were to evacuate the 20,000 inhabitants of Ariel, destroy the university campus there, and withdraw to pre-1967 lines in order to comply with Beinart’s requirements for a “democratic” Israel and a “contiguous” Palestinian state
In any case, the supposedly sacrosanct “Palestinian” territory is only the area that happened to be occupied by Jordanian troops when Israel and Jordan negotiated the armistice (not a treaty of peace) that ended Israel’s War of Independence in 1949. This is yet another fact that Beinart fails to mention when he so indignantly protests “permitted settlement growth” so deep inside the proposed territory of a projected future Palestinian state.
To return to our initial point, however, the warm welcome accorded to Beinart by Jewish communities and congregations throughout the country is far more worrisome than Beinart’s own remarks, which would make little difference if he were not so readily admitted to Jewish communities like the Trojan Horse inside Troy. For example, in his introductory remarks to a debate between Beinart and David Suissa at Hollywood’s Temple Israel, John Rosove, the rabbi of the congregation, not only assured his audience of Beinart’s love and loyalty for Israel, but warned them in stern tones never even to question it. By shielding Beinart from any questioning of his motives and objectives for incessantly bashing Israel, Rosove and others acting as hosts for Beinart’s presentations of course give his message a “heksher” (or rabbinical seal of approval). They have accepted the gift borne by the Greeks and brought it into the temple.
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