Op-Ed: Our Own Worst Enemies
Published: Sunday, April 01, 2012 12:29 AM
Why do the young American Jews whom Beinart claims to represent find it so difficult to express unconditional support for Israel?
In recent weeks, archliberal Peter Beinart has reignited the call to boycott products manufactured in communities located geographically in the "West Bank", known to many supporters of Israel as Judea and Samaria.
This Jewish liberal crusade to save Israel from itself is based on the premise that for Israel to survive as a democratic state, they, the American Jewish Liberal movement must boycott, sanction, and divest from Judea and Samaria, or in Beinart' words, “nondemocratic Israel.” This liberal tendency of limitless capacity to express a myopic view of reality will never understand nor internalize one basic tenet; Jewish communities located in Judea and Samaria generate disproportionate criticism not because they inhabit, in Beinart's words, a "non-democratic Jewish state", but because they live by and are perceived as the very opposite; they represent the very embodiment of a moral world, they are the modern day torch bearers of the Western Democratic principle.
For liberal Jews the notion of the “occupation” has become the defining lens through which everything about the Israel is explained and justified.Yet when we take a really close look at what keeps the conflict between the Palestinian Arabs and Israel on slow burner for so long, I invite them to imagine what would happen if the Palestinian Arabs had the military strength of Israel and Israel had the military strength of the Palestinian Arabs.
Would the Jews of Judea and Samaria be subjected to the occasional harassment at the Allenby border crossing, resource competition and military checkpoint? I suspect - and know somewhere deep down - that the world would stand by, that Beinart and his cohorts would remain silent as they did during the Holocaust and witness a terrible massacre.
For this reason alone, Beinart should be the first to acknowledge that despite this complex reality, this unrelenting Palestinian primal urge to murder the Jews of what he labels "undemocratic Israel", the Jews maintain the highest level of a moral society. The Arabs living in Judea and Samaria enjoy more opportunities, human rights and freedoms than any other Arabs living in any other Arab nation in the Middle East.
In Peter Beinart’s just released book, “The Crisis of Zionism”, we learn from the very first page, why those Jews who hold on to the land, cultivating and growing roots, educating their children to believe, that they live in the historical and biblical heartland of Israel tick him off.
Beinart shares with his readers, courtesy of his grandmother who responds to her American grandson speaking highly of his new homeland in America, "Don't get too attached she states, the Jews are like rats, we leave the sinking ship."
This is a curious and revealing, albeit unconscious concession on the part of Beinart. Throughout history Jews have wandered not out of choice, but out of necessity, in order to survive. In the words of Rabbi David Wolpe, "Jews rarely abandoned a sinking ship, but they have repeatedly been thrown overboard."
This brings us back to Beinharts grandmother, who evidently has instilled in her grandson the belief that Jews are to be blamed for a situation largely created and brought by others, such as the Arab rejection of Israel's right to exist as the Jewish homeland.
The idea of not running away and "abandoning ship", standing your ground and refusing to become once again a "wandering Jew" is what motivates Beinart to reject the "settlers" and what they represent. Beinart and like minded Jews are terrified of the prospect of having to be like all other nations, they insist on retaining their historical role of moral pureness, a light onto nations. This can never be fulfilled should they be held responsible coupled with repeated worldwide condemnation for not repairing the broken street light on an Arab street in Judea and Samaria.
Dividing Israel into good cop, bad cop Jews, describing the "settlers" as an amalgamation of Dirty Harry and Death Wish so as to make Israel within the "green line" more palatable to young American Jews, is avoiding the real issue at hand. The problem lies - and here I quote Beinart himself - when he writes that young American Jews “are not especially connected to Israel because they are not especially connected to being Jewish".
Why do the young American Jews whom Beinart claims to represent find it so difficult to express unconditional support for Israel? Why do we find so little expression of unconditional support for Israel among them?
Is it because they confuse supporting Israel with supporting its government's official policy? That is, if they disagree with Israel's policies, they find it difficult - even impossible - to express unconditional support for Israel.
The bottom line lies somewhere in the dialectical relationship between Israel, the definitive homeland of the Jewish people and Jews opting out of choice to live elsewhere. Supporting Israel. including the Jews beyond the "green line" is messy, complicated, and raises too many questions concerning Jewish identity and Jewish affiliation.
A tiny Israel, the start-up nation, is a Jewish nation agreeable to the palate of young American Jews who would prefer to remain Jewish by association, nothing more.
I can assure Beinart and his many supporters, and I think many in Israel would concur with me, that most Israeli's inhabit not "democratic Israel" or "undemocratic Israel" but the vast landmass of "middle Israel", the place where all Jews can live together providing our Arab neighbors with maximum liberties and human rights. .
Beinart is welcome to participate in this endeavor. Or not
Our Own Worst Enemies
Op-Ed: Our Own Worst Enemies