We’ve had enough of Peter Beinart.
There was a time where the contrarian views of the left-wing Jewish public intellectual were thought provoking. Beinart was a lightning rod in the American-Jewish community for his outspoken analyses of the community and its relationship to Israel. Early on, Beinart identified himself with the Zionist left, and was a strong advocate for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His articles were articulate and many of his points well-taken, even if they infuriated the Jewish establishment and those on the right.
About a decade ago, Beinart published “The Crisis of Zionism,” a critique that endorsed an economic boycott of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but not of Israel itself. The message was clear: Israel is legitimate; the settlements are not.
Then, last year, Beinart questioned Zionism and disavowed the two-state solution, writing that “reality has not” respected the foundations of liberal Zionism: two states for two peoples; a secure Israel alongside a Palestinian state with dignity for the Palestinians. And he continued: “I have begun to wonder, for the first time in my life, whether the price of a state that favors Jews over Palestinians is too high. After all, it is human beings — all human beings — and not states that are created b’tselem Elohim, in the image of God.”
Finally, Beinart published “It’s Time to Name Anti-Palestinian Bigotry” earlier this month, in which he asserted that those who accuse the Squad, Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) of antisemitism are themselves “anti-Palestinian.” And while he claimed that “the evidence that the Squad’s critics are anti-Palestinian is far stronger than the evidence that the Squad is anti-Jewish,” he offered none. Instead, he wants us to trust him to help us understand our own “bigotry,” simply because he says it’s so.
Beinart seeks to equate anti-Palestinian sentiment with antisemitism. He argues that, just as “definitions of antisemitism have proliferated — some of which have been used to equate anti-Zionism with Jew-hatred — Palestinian intellectuals have begun mulling a definition of anti-Palestinian bigotry.” He identifies the elements of anti-Palestinianism as: “Prejudice, hostility or discrimination against Palestinians. Denial of the Nakba. Accusing a Palestinian of ‘latent’ racism(s) without cause. Allowing Palestinian exception to all other held liberal or left values/politics.”
Antisemitism and anti-Palestinian sentiment are not the same. Opposition to the Palestinian cause or even antagonism to actions by Palestinians is wholly different from the sustained, centuries-long hatred and genocide of the Jews. No one is calling for the death or destruction of the Palestinian people. No one hates Palestinians just because they are Palestinians. Negative sentiment is generated for what certain Palestinians do and where certain elements of Palestinian leadership are trying to take them.
Unfortunately, Beinart does not examine these issues. Instead, he seems more focused on disruption through accusation, without much more. New York Times columnist Bret Stephens called Beinart’s “The Crisis of Zionism” “an act of moral solipsism.” In his latest diatribe, Beinart sinks deeper into the self-absorbed muck.