David Frum Embraces Anti-Zionism

In a piece that seems to have created something of a firestorm, Peter Beinart calls for a boycott of Israeli goods produced in the occupied territories.  I admit that Beinart’s piece enraged me — not because it is untrue, but rather because it is so derivative.  People have been saying this stuff for years: what’s the big deal?  Beinart was a pretty hawkish New Republic editor: he shouldn’t get extra points now for being wrong beforehand.

But I suppose I don’t appreciate sufficiently how ideas get into the public square.  Now, the sometimes-sensible David Frum has decided to (politely) attack his Daily Beast colleague — and in the meantime, give aid and comfort to those who are working to destroy Zionism.

 Frum says that Beinart’s proposal is tantamount to  “punish[ing] Israelis in order to change the Palestinians. It’s not a very good plan.”

If the Israeli-Palestinian dispute were a dispute over borders, it would have been settled long ago. The dispute never has been about borders, and it is not about borders now. The spread of Jewish settlements in the West Bank is not a cause of Palestinian rejectionism. It is a consequence of Palestinian rejectionism. It’s tiresome to repeat the history. Peter knows it as well as I do. Has there been a moment since 1936 when a majority of Jewish opinion would have rejected a peace based on partition and mutual recognition by a Jewish and Arab state? Has there has been a moment since 1936 when the Palestinian political community would have accepted such a peace?

Objection, your honor! Relevance. 

Beinart’s point — which really is quite obvious — is that  Israel cannot be a Jewish and democratic state while holding on to the territories.  His minor premise is that continued settlement in the West Bank (which he calls “undemocratic Israel”) makes any eventual relinquishment of the territories impossible.

Beinart never says that Israel should return the territories without an end to Palestinian rejectionism.  What he does say is that continuing to build settlements will make it impossible to return the territories if and when the Palestinians do accept peace based upon partition and mutual recognition.

Recall how searing and painful it was just a few years ago for Ariel Sharon to effect a withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.  Withdrawing from the West Bank will make that look like a cakewalk (although the context of an actual agreement will soften things a smidge).  And Frum’s solution for this is to make it harder.

Again: no one is saying that Israel should withdraw now.  It will take some painful concessions from the Palestinians — definitely over the right of return and maybe over other issues — to get an agreement.  I have no evidence that any Palestinian political leader is contemplating such concessions.  And that means we are in a state of suspended animation for the foreseeable future, managing the conflict instead of solving it.  But if anything, that gives Israel a chance to grapple with its own internal problems — social, economic, religious, and demographic — which are the true threats to Zionism.

This isn’t hard, and I can’t understand why Frum is unable to see it.  He’s already been fired by the conservative movement, although perhaps this is his (ironic) way of extending them an olive branch.

Shortly after the Six Day War, General Ariel Sharon, fresh from his spectacular campaign to conquer the Sinai, proudly told Prime Minister Levi Eshkol that Israel was now secure, that no one would ever be able to conquer the Jewish State.

“That’s fine, Arik,” replied Eshkol.  “But what are we going to do with all these Arabs?”

Forty-five years later, we still don’t have an answer.  That’s bad enough, but Frum and people who agree with him still can’t even understand the question.  That’s frightening.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

39 thoughts on “David Frum Embraces Anti-Zionism”

  1. “What he does say is that continuing to build settlements will make it impossible to return the territories if and when the Palestinians do return the territories.”
    Typo at the end here for something on the lines of “drop the claim to return”?

    1. Perhaps not, James. Though I do not ascribe this view to Jonathan himself, it is possible there are people who would posit, other than in a spirit of grim comedy, the notion that it is the presence of Palestinians in Gaza and on the West Bank that constitutes an illegal occupation.

      I am reminded of an anecdote about Meir Kahane of perhaps less than unalloyedly blessed memory. Having made an ugly and tension-raising scene somewhere or other, he found himself ushered along rather robustly by Israeli policemen who had clearly left their kid gloves at home that day. Astonished at this man-handling, Kahane protested indignantly, at which the senior policeman on hand placidly responded, “Yeah well, Rabbi Kahane, here in Israel we don’t have to worry about the Jewish vote”.

  2. Seems to me that over the past few decades, the Israelis have been going native. Their very strong right-wing fundamentalist population is similar to many of the Arab countries. I wonder how democratic all those former Russians are ? Although there is still a big western influence, they are starting to resemble their neighbors more than they resemble say, Belgium.

    I am a Californian,(former)”Irish-Catholic”, (~4-5 generations from the old country); I think that I am relatively objective. I know something about the recent history, and I am very wary of fanatics from any tradition. I am increasingly of the opinion that I dont have a dog in their fight. I think that the “objective” population in the US will(sooner or later) start to question the terms of our involvement with, and payments to, Israel, and possibly try to modify them.

  3. “continuing to build settlements will make it impossible to return the territories if and when the Palestinians do accept peace based upon partition and mutual recognition.”

    If the English had waited for the Irish to accept peace based upon partition, they would still be there. And suffering the consequences – including the repeated choice between security and democracy. And I think there are a number of other parallel cases. Israel needs to get out for its own sake, before some combination of frustration and despair leads it to some choice which cannot be unmade.

  4. Since the head of Hamas says he’ll start negotiating from the 1967 borders to even more favorable positions toward Israel, and Nutty Yahoo says “Never!” and calls abiding by Resolution 242 a death sentence to Israel, I am wondering if David Frum is reading anything current regarding Palestinian-Israeli issues. Beinart should get points for being a Johnny Come Lately to a position he used to slander. It does make for certain headlines in certain places. And look, we’re talking about it too.

    So bravo to Beinart. Disappointed in Frum, who has been making courageous moves himself within Republican circles on other issues, but overall give Frum credit for at least giving Beinart a listen. I think if someone spoke with Frum about what has been happening since 2005 forward, he might even join Beinart’s move to a sensible position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

  5. Hamas accepts 1967 borders, but will never recognize Israel, top official says

    “Hamas would be willing to accept a Palestinian state within 1967 borders, a leader of the militant group, Mahmoud Zahar, told the Palestinian news agency Ma’an on Wednesday, adding, however, that Hamas would never recognize Israel since such a move would counter the group’s aim to “liberate” all of Palestine.”

    So, not precisely. In fact, almost precisely not! His position is actually that he’ll take a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders as a step on the road to Israel’s destruction, rather than as an alternative to it. It would, after all, put them in a better position to attack Israel…

    One has to keep in mind that Hamas has a history of making peace overtures in one language, and assuring people in another that they don’t mean it.

    1. Brett,

      Do we really believe that is an excuse not to talk with Hamas? The momentum of a peace agreement would stop that nonsense far more likely than not. Most Palestinians are tired of the nonsense, as are most Israelis.

  6. “Again: no one is saying that Israel should withdraw now. It will take some painful concessions from the Palestinians — definitely over the right of return and maybe over other issues — to get an agreement. I have no evidence that any Palestinian political leader is contemplating such concessions. And that means we are in a state of suspended animation for the foreseeable future, managing the conflict instead of solving it.”

    To me this issue has always turned on a diagnosis of why the Palestinian Arabs won’t make any of the necessary concessions. if you think it’s just irrational bumbling then you might be persuaded to wait patiently without extracting a cost for foot-dragging. I don’t believe that; on the contrary I believe that it’s a rational decision based on the belief that they will get a better offer tomorrow than they will get today.

    It’s very difficult to negotiate with someone who believes that; in some sense their incentives to negotiate meaningfully are inverted. Proposed concessions don’t lead to the contemplation of balancing concessions, they reinforce the underlying belief.

    The most rational thing to do in such circumstances is to find a lever that changes the underlying dynamic that leads the party to believe this way. This is what the settlements do. They put in place the very real possibility, in fact the likelihood, that the deal that can be offered tomorrow will be a little worse than the deal today. And that this will continue.

    Notice by the way that the Israelis are very clear about this in other ways as well. For example Palestinian Arab spokespeople often demand that a return to negotiations must include a return to previous Israeli offers, and complain when they don’t. It’s completely understandable why they would want that; and also, under this analysis, completely understandable why Israel doesn’t negotiate that way. Similarly, the Israelis don’t agree that the 1949 Armistice line has any legal standing (something which was insisted on by the Arabs at the time of course) and therefore don’t recognize it as a basis of negotiation. They’re often criticized for this, but again that’s a concession, and they won’t give it away without a balancing concession. Similarly the separation barrier / wall wasn’t built on this line, because that would have set the de facto border.

    The situation stinks but the point is that all of these actions, including settlement, are a rational response to it. They aren’t uniquely evil; and which ones stay and which ones go would be the subject of case by case negotiation, should serious negotiation actually commence.

    As for Beinert, I’ll just say that if he feels guilty about his support for what the US did in Iraq, he shouldn’t project that guilt onto some other agent. His obtuseness about how this particular trope functions is gross but of course in the nature of how these mechanisms function.

    1. The most rational thing to do in such circumstances is to find a lever that changes the underlying dynamic that leads the party to believe this way. This is what the settlements do. They put in place the very real possibility, in fact the likelihood, that the deal that can be offered tomorrow will be a little worse than the deal today. And that this will continue.

      The error of this position is that this is almost never how people respond in these sorts of situations. You can construct a perfectly rational (though not necessarily correct) argument that they should so respond, but they don’t. They never have and they likely never will.

      So the question has to be asked of the Israelis: What’s your end game when the Palestinians don’t do what you want?

      1. The outcome remains unclear. As I said, the situation stinks. And of course you could ask the same question of the Palestinian Arabs: what is your endgame when the Israelis don’t do what you want?

        So actually I agree with Jonathan that right now the situation is mired in a kind of suspended animation. I expect the Israelis will continue to “manage” the conflict rather than trying to resolve it. This means maintaining military and security control of the West Bank while providing the Palestinian Arabs with as much internal self-government as possible. What I don’t agree is that this means they ought to cease settlement activity, particularly in areas that it’s already clear are going to remain part of Israel if there’s ever going to be an agreement at all.

        The Middle East is in tremendous political flux right now. The power of autocrats is being diminished. The main rejectionist state on Israel’s borders is in the midst of an increasingly bloody civil war. Iran, the main funder and weapons provider of rejectionist elements among the Palestinian Arabs and in Lebanon, is under increasing economic pressure. These currents may play out in a way that promotes peace; or they may not. But not a lot is going to happen between Israel and the Arabs until the dust settles. The US ought to be focusing its attention on how to promote an outcome more favorable to peace and stability rather than one less so.

        In the meantime, here’s what not to do: Unilaterally make concessions in the hopes that this will lead a recalcitrant party to make corresponding concessions.

        1. Hamas has an end game in mind, and they aren’t very shy about sharing it. If Israel doesn’t do what they want, they plan to overwhelm it. They intend to do so with a combination of military force, demographics and causing Israel to pull itself apart over the contradictions of its own policy.

          That may or may not be a strategy that they can pull off successfully, but it is coherent. It is also one that *benefits* from your advice to the Israeli government. That’s what you seem to miss: the continued growth of the settlements is a boon to the most intransigent elements of the Palestinian polity. That’s who is strengthened.

          Of course, the reverse is also true. The element of the Israeli polity that is strengthened by Hamas is the most intransigent elements of the right wing. The thing is, those on the extremes are perfectly comfortable with this. They both think that they can win the resulting conflict and are happy to have temporary allies on the other side that can help them bring that about.

          If you are not a maximalist, however, this should be exactly what you want to avoid. You had damned well better come up with your end game now and figure out how to get there, because delay on your part will not be reciprocated by the extremes. They will more than pleased to drive this where they want to go while you dither.

          And if there is no good end game here and you are correct that it is pointless to offer concessions, then you’re doomed. One or the other extreme will take over.

          You might as well assume that there is useful negotiating to be done, because if that assumption is wrong, then you are going to lose. I’m not optimistic that there is an opening to be had, but that’s a reflection of my deep pessimism that there is any viable solution. In the long run, the only likely outcome is a thorough wave of ethnic cleansing one way or the other and despotic regime, either Arab or Jewish, holding sway. Both sides acting in concert have slowly eliminated all of the alternatives.

          And, yes, I mean both sides. The Israelis could also have gotten a better deal at many points than they are likely to end up with, too.

          1. Look, I’m not terribly optimistic about the chances for a peaceful resolution of this conflict in the short or even the medium term. However I simply don’t agree with your arguments about the urgency of figuring out an “end game” at this time. The entire Middle East is in an incredible state of flux. It’s entirely possible that in a year, the Assad regime, Iran’s major ally in the Arab world, will be gone. Syria may then be open to economic carrots that would be linked to stepping back from its role as the major rejectionist front-line state. Iran’s physical ability to send arms and advisors to Hezbollah or Palestinian rejectionist forces would be severely curtailed. Iran itself in economic chaos and with far less capacity in general to support the forces of rejection. Perhaps even in political turmoil.

            Or things might get worse. The point again is, what the US should be doing is trying to whatever extent we can to shape the outcomes positively from our perspective to support peace and stability. Maybe your view is that unilateral Israeli concessions would help us to bring this about. I don’t see any evidence for that proposition. In fact Hamas’s clearly enunciated desire to avoid an escalation of the conflict in Gaza over the past week is a good illustration of the contrary proposition that these other forces and changes are far more critical than anything Israel could do at this point.

      2. That’s not the only error in this position. Another error is assuming that the fact that increased pressure might change the other side’s behavior justifies the pressure.

        Netanyahu, for instance, could also pressure the Palestinians by dropping a nuclear weapon on one Palestinian city a week until the Palestinians agree to a deal. It might well be very effective. But that isn’t a justification.

        Imposing anti-democratic colonial settlements full of privileged Jewish settlers while neighboring Palestinians are deprived of land and water and live in poverty is WRONG. It doesn’t matter if it is effective. “Anything to make the other side capitulate” is the morality of the Mafia loan shark.

        1. But, you know, they aren’t dropping nuclear weapons on them. So this argument is, to put it as nicely as I can, irrelevant.

          1. The rest of the argument – the one about the settlements – is relevant. It’s directly on point.

    2. “The most rational thing to do in such circumstances is to find a lever that changes the underlying dynamic that leads the party to believe this way. This is what the settlements do. They put in place the very real possibility, in fact the likelihood, that the deal that can be offered tomorrow will be a little worse than the deal today. And that this will continue.”

      That’s where you’re wrong, Larry: the settlements don’t put pressure on the Palestinians, and particularly not their political leaders. They put pressure on ISRAEL, because they empower a meglamaniacal settler party who will make it impossible to let Israel leave. And Israel will need to leave — or at least make it quite clear that it wants to and can leave — because otherwise it will give up being either a Jewish state or a democracy. The “facts on the ground” theory has done precisely nothing to get the Palestinians to make concessions, but it has horribly undermined Israel’s domestic strength.

      1. I don’t agree with the aims of some (maybe most) of the settler groups. But on the other hand if a real prospect for peace presents itself I find it hard to imagine that they’ll actually be able to prevent it. So I disagree with you there.

        A long term situation in which the Palestinian Arabs have a lot of internal self-government but no state or armed forces — but you know, even if there were an agreement, their military capacity would inevitably be curtailed under any such agreement — and the Israelis control security, isn’t very pleasant for either the Israelis or the Arabs. But it doesn’t strike me as a moral outrage or posing the kind of moral conundrum you imagine — especially if it’s clear that Israel would recognize a Palestinian Arab state upon such a state agreeing to conditions such as, they recognize Israel’s sovereign right to determine who gets to live within its (Israel’s) borders. Which it is. So I just think you should calm down about this and stop stoking the hysteria of people who are actually antagonistic to the idea of Israel or who, like Beinert, appear more concerned with their own issues than with the matter at hand. See my other comments on this entry. With a little luck and some smart thinking and action on our part, the rejectionist forces in the Arab world could be severely weakened in the next year or two. They already have been. At which point the strategic environment for a peace deal would be a lot stronger. Let’s focus on that.

        1. But on the other hand if a real prospect for peace presents itself I find it hard to imagine that they’ll actually be able to prevent it.

          But giving power to the extremists on both sides all but eliminates the chances of a real prospect for peace presenting itself. The current government of Israel has both the inclination and the ability to prevent one from emerging.

          And your second paragraph starts out by positing that the Palestinians will *never* attain real sovereignty. That is a serious conundrum and if you expect the Palestinians to agree to that in perpetuity, you’re dreaming. They want, and have a right to eventually, an actual sovereign state that gets to control its own security and military policy.

          Further, you assert that Palestinians might have internal government for a long period without *any* control of security policy. Again, history shows that no Palestinian self rule really exists so long as Israel controls their security. In fact, pretty much by definition it can’t. Those who control security policy control the polity, and any pretense otherwise is a sham. You may think that this is necessary, but you should really stop kidding yourself about what it means. And, yes, it is a moral outrage that millions of people have no definitive say in their governance. That is just as true in the West Bank as it is in Syria.

          1. 1. Simply asserting that “the current government of Israel has both the inclination and the ability to prevent [a real prospect for peace] from emerging” demonstrates that you’ve decided to blame Israel for the lack of peace, but nothing else. In the narrative you’ve constructed in your head, the emergence and actual authority of a Palestinian political leadership, Hamas, that has explicitly reneged on the agreements that brought it to power in the first place, and that has spent years firing rockets randomly at Israeli civilians, has no role apparently. And on and on.

            2. I’m always surprised by the misapplication of slippery slope arguments. Between complete control of their own military apparatus to arm and deploy as they wish, immediately, and no control ever, is a gigantic range of options to be explored for what kind of military a Palestinian Arab state would control. I mean, the US’s military policy is constrained by treaties we have signed with the Soviet Union and now Russia, regarding the nature of the armaments we are allowed to construct and deploy. There are people who believe that this is an unacceptable infringement of US sovereignty, but I doubt that you’re one of them. So who’s kidding whom here.

          2. Simply asserting that “the current government of Israel has both the inclination and the ability to prevent [a real prospect for peace] from emerging” demonstrates that you’ve decided to blame Israel for the lack of peace, but nothing else.

            This is false. I said nothing whatsoever about the Israeli government being the only impediment to peace. In fact, I’ve explicitly said the exact opposite several times just in this thread. However, I will say that you are making the sort of fantasy argument that supporters of Israel often resort to and which make further dialogue pointless. If you reach the point of wanting to engage honestly, please let me know.

  7. Yes, it is all the fault of the Palestinians and their unrealistic expectations. They should just pack it in and go home.

    1. This isn’t really a response to what I said above; I didn’t talk of “fault”, on the contrary, my point is that the Palestinian Arabs are acting rationally given their beliefs, and the Israelis are acting rationally given theirs. I do believe the Arabs have unrealistic expectations; but there is an historical basis for this belief extending back to their actions in 1948. Retrospectively, they should have taken the deal that was offered at that time. They didn’t, because they thought they could do better (and in some pretty blood-curdling terms).

  8. As a Jew, people like David Frum disgust me. It happens not to only be about the settlements. What about the Arabs within Israel. The state is not sustainable, and a relic of early twentieth century hyper nationalism. One person one vote, come what may.

  9. As a Jew, people who embrace this kind of fatalistic, ahistorical thinking — “come what may” — and fail to take responsibility for their future in political terms… well I’m not going to say that they disgust me. I’ll just say that the purpose of Zionism is and was to overcome this kind of irresponsible fatalism.

    1. I shouldn’t have used the word disgust. But I do think we need to think long and hard about our place in the modern world. This is a dialectic that has been ongoing since Spinoza and the Enlightenment, obviously interrupted by the Nazis, but it has recently been crowded out. Do we need Israel? If so, is it because we are not safe, or because we would not continue to exist because of intermarriage. If the latter, does this matter?

      1. So thank you for making discussion possible. Here’s what I think: It doesn’t matter what you or I need as Jews, or think we need. There are roughly 6 million Jews living in Israel, they aren’t going anywhere, they have as much right to self-determination as any other peoples, and they have no intention of living in a country that looks like the rest of the Middle East for reasons that should be painfully obvious to anybody. Therefore your theoretical solution is a non-starter. If you care about peace, think more practically.

        Here’s Beinert’s problem: He’s a narcissist. The whole thing is about how it makes him feel. That, actually, IS disgusting.

        1. I think a disturbingly large number of Israelis are content to live in a country that looks just like the rest of the Middle East, so long as they get to be the ones on top. Sure, *they* get to have the vote and some control over security, but they’re perfectly happy denying it to others. The fact that Israel can’t even be bothered to enforce its *own* laws with regards to the settlers is strong evidence of that.

          1. You and I both know that this is a non-serious statement. Discussions of how Israel falls short of its highest goals as a society and government lie in a completely different universe of discourse than the questions of how the nations around it — some of them barely functional in the most basic sense — are organized and governed.

          2. I’ll stand by exactly what I said. There is a large portion of the Israeli populace, represented in government by Avigdor Lieberman, who are expressly comfortable with the idea of living in a society in which political participation is denied to a large percentage of those controlled by the government of Israel. It should be noted that Lieberman does not limit this only to Arabs, but also certain groups of Israeli Jews.

          3. Sure; and lots of people here like Rick Santorum, and/or profess to believe that the President is a Muslim socialist from Kenya ; and lots of people in France voted for le Pen. It has nothing to do with my point, which is that Israel doesn’t operate like Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, or Egypt (just to limit the discussion to the countries that border it); and the people who live in Israel don’t want it to. So its purpose was really just to spread a little dirt. But I don’t need any further evidence that you have animus towards the country.

          4. If you were honest with yourself Larry you would see that what Michael is saying is true. He didn’t say all. He said a disturbingly large number, and he’s right as is evident by the E-Mails I receive weekly from the Jewish federation here in Nashville. Furthermore, whether or not Jews want to live in a country like the rest of the middle east is as irrelevant to the question of the settlements as is Beinart’s narcissistic character, which is to say not at all.

          5. It may or may not be true; but again it’s entirely irrelevant to the point I was making to you, which is that Israelis don’t want to live in a country whose political and social institutions and organization look like, say, Lebanon. Or Syria. Or even Jordan. For reasons that are pretty fucking obvious. Avigdor Lieberman and his ilk are just a bunch of dirty laundry to point to and have nothing to do with this question; any more than Ron Paul or Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich or reaching back further in time George Wallace have to do with the question of why Americans, in general, would prefer to live in a country that looks like America rather than a country that looks instead like Lebanon, or Syria. Or even Jordan. But, hey, look over there, there are clownish and racist Israeli politicians!

            As to the issue of Beinert, that refers back to Jonathan’s original post. I do think he’s a good example of the Galus mentality, or in modern parlance Stockholm syndrome.

  10. “Beinart was a pretty hawkish New Republic editor: he shouldn’t get extra points now for being wrong beforehand.”

    There’s a lot of value to that prodigal son story. Fairness can be overrated.

  11. What’s remarkably ironic about the Six Day War was the reluctance with which the Israeli cabinet decided to go into the West Bank. Had King Hussein showed a modicum of military restraint, confined himself to rhetorical excess in lieu of artillery & bombing, the IDF would probably have not occupied the territories. Eshkol certainly didn’t want to, and there were others in the cabinet who also had misgivings (according to Michael Oren’s fine book, Six Days of War). Once in, however, it was like opening Pandora’s box.

  12. Jesus Larry. Again, Beinart’s character or motivations have nothing to do with what he is saying. The occupation of the West Bank is apartheid. Period. Read Palestine Inside Out by Saree Makidisi if you don’t believe me. So either us Jews are going to wring our hands thousands of miles away in what Tony Judt aptly called “surrogate nationalism” or we’re going do something about it. If you choose the former, than I think it’s fair to say that you are in fact not on the left, and are just trapped in a little ethnocentric bubble.

    1. 1. I think Beinert’s character and motivations are entirely relevant. I think he feels guilty about cheerleading the Iraq War and he’s projecting that guilt onto the usual suspects.

      2. An occupation is a grotesque enough thing as it is; what is being added by the label “apartheid” of course is to bring in an association to the old Zionism is racism canard. Israel as a matter of policy is committed to a two-state resolution of this conflict in which they exit most of the West Bank. Of course people like Beinert, or maybe you, doubt that this is sincere. I don’t.

      3. I hate to speak ill of the dead, but I think Judt’s views on this topic were contemptible.

      4. Actually, I don’t think I’m on the left; I’d call myself a liberal of the old school, the kind who didn’t (and doesn’t) have much use for what used to be called in different circumstances “useful idiots.” In any case I think it’s weird for someone to think they have the right to define who’s on the left and who isn’t.

      5. By the way, the Rosenbergs were guilty.

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