Israel is a European colonialist entity and is destined to disappear, said the
Palestinian family that was a major inspiration for American journalist Peter
Beinart to write his controversial book The Crisis of Zionism.
interview at their family home in downtown Hebron on Saturday, the Jaber family
said they had no idea that a video of their son Khaled Jaber was a key
inspiration for a book, let alone one that has become a focal point in the
discourse on the relationship between Israeli and American Jewish communities.
They also did not know that Khaled and his father are mentioned by name on the
first page of the book’s introduction.
When asked about the two-state
solution, Falastin Jaber, Khaled’s mother, said, “We need all [of] Palestine,”
and referred to Israel as part of a “European colonial imprint” on the Middle
East. She compared the Jewish state to the French colony in Algeria and the
Italian colony in Libya, and said that, like those colonies, Israel too would
“It’s a matter of time,” Falastin said, adding that
she believes that this goal will be helped along by “small struggles like those
While Falastin remained mum on the subject, Khaled’s
65-year-old grandfather Badran said that he did not vote for Hamas in the last
Palestinian elections, and that he was a long-time supporter of the Popular
Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Falastin, who did not take her
husband’s name, appeared to change the subject, speaking instead about what she
referred to in English as “the big lie” of Israel as the Jewish state, pointing
out how, in her words, many of the Ethiopian and Russian Israelis are not Jewish
and Theodore Herzl himself “was an atheist.”
The Crisis of Zionism author
Peter Beinart said his best-selling book was inspired largely by the sight of
Fadel Jabari’s five-year-old son Khaled crying out for his father as Israeli
border police carted him away during a clash over water rights that took place
in the West Bank village of Baka in August 2010.
“I wrote this book
because of my grandmother, who was a Zionist, and Khaled Jaber, who could have
been my son,” Beinart said in the introduction to the book. “As soon as I
watched the video, I wished I had never turned it on.”
Beinart wrote that
while for years he had always tried to find explanations for Palestinian
suffering, “in recent years, for reasons I can’t explain, I had been lowering my
defenses and Khaled’s cries left me staring in mute horror at my computer
In the video, which was shot by Sky News in August 2010, Khaled
can be seen crying and tugging on the back of his father’s shirt as he shouts
out “Bidi Baba! Bidi Baba!” (“I want Dad”) as border patrolmen hustle Fadel to a
waiting police vehicle. The incident was shot during clashes that took place
when Israeli forces came to the village accusing Palestinian farmers of stealing
water used for the settlement of Kiryat Arba on the other side of Highway
Badran told The Jerusalem Post that he owns 18 dunams of land at the
site of the village, and his family was using a well at the site when the
incident took place.
When informed for the first time that her son helped
inspire a book that is at the center of the Jewish-American debate on Israel,
Falastin, who said she teaches high school students Arabic literature, said that
“the Palestinian people have a million Khaleds. There are many more than Khaled,
in Gaza during the war, in the Jenin camp, in Qana in south
Badran, a retired sociology and geography professor at the
Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron, said his daughter and three
grandchildren have been living at his house for the past 10 months, after Fadel
left the West Bank for an unknown location.
Badran added that after
Fadel’s arrest and subsequent three months in prison, he was blacklisted from
working within Israel, where he used to drive a truck and sell clothes – mainly
in Arab villages. Problems began developing between Fadel and his wife following
the arrest, culminating in his decision to leave, Badran said.
then, his wife and children have been living with Badran in his house next door
to the Hebron city hall.
He also said that his grandson had acted up in
school since the incident took place, and that for the first three months after
his father’s arrest, Khaled slept in his grandfather’s bed with him each night.
Khaled did not seem to be a rambunctious child, sitting quietly on the couch on
Saturday with his grandfather and his mom, too shy to talk, even as his
grandfather prodded him to tell the reporters present “about the day the Jews
came to take your father away.”
The book, and its contention that liberal
Jewish support for Israel is waning due to Israeli government policies, has been
the focal point of a heated debate in the Jewish world since even before it was
released. It has been difficult for those who follow the Jewish blogosphere and
English-language Israeli press to turn on their computer in the past month and
not find a blog entry or online article either criticizing or lauding the book
and its author.
In one of the more scathing reviews, Bret Stephens, the
deputy editorial page editor and the foreign affairs columnist of The Wall
Street Journal and a former editor-in-chief of the Post, began by questioning
Beinart’s comparison of himself to Fadel Jaber and his young son to
“You might expect that Beinart would have made the effort to
reach out to the Jabers, perhaps even by flying out and meeting them in person.
Who is this family in whose name this book is ostensibly written?” he
Beinart told the Post on Sunday that if he had known of the
family’s political beliefs, it would not have changed his decision to feature
Khaled’s story in the book’s introduction.
“The point I was trying to
convey in that story was simply about a small example of the reality of what it
means to live as a population that doesn’t have citizenship or the equal rights
given by full citizenship and the consequences of that,” he said. “And that
seems to me a reality that is important, irrespective of the political views of
the people who are suffering.”
He also pointed out that while he isn’t
equating Palestinian terrorism with the incident involving the Jaber family, in
his book he wrote in detail about the murder of the Fogel family in Itamar and
the 2000 Ramallah lynching to, in his words, show the horror of Palestinian
terrorism, and did not inquire about the political beliefs of those victims
“It’s a very brief anecdote about me being affected because I’m a
father of a son of a similar age,” Beinart said of Khaled’s story.