Last week Peter Beinart wrote a column in The Daily Beast called “Cory Booker’s Rabbis,” in which he opined that my 20-year friendship with the Democratic Senate Candidate in New Jersey, and my having brought him to the Jewish community, might be pushing him toward too much of a pro-Israel posture. Beinart, whom I also know from Oxford where he was a Rhodes scholar and who I like and respect amid our considerable differences on Israel, offered up many myths about my relationship with Cory, who served as president of my student organization at Oxford University. I responded at length to his attack.
Now, most people know when they’re beaten, and Peter’s original broadside against me and Cory was so weak it was easy to demolish. But some people are just gluttons for punishment, and now Peter is back for more. Not content to have damaged his reputation as a writer and editor by fraudulently accusing me of racism and then blaming it on a low-level staffer, and not content to have sullied his reputation for diligence by inventing myths like me and Cory never having discussed Israel or the Middle East, Peter is back condemning Israel, only this time he’s using pictures of Baruch Goldstein’s grave to make his desperate case.
How many Jews in the entire world support the Jewish terrorist Baruch Goldstein? Would even Peter put it at more than a few hundred out of 14 million? Peter should have stuck with his original apology – which I accept – and quit while he was behind.
Here is the main argument against Peter’s rejoinder to me, and indeed his entire position on the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Of course the Palestinians are suffering, as Cory himself said in a recent interview with The Forward. The question is why. Who is to blame? And how can their suffering be remedied? For Peter, who always hides behind his self-declared status as a Zionist to attack Israel, the reason is simple. Israel oppresses the Palestinians. But for those interested in facts, the unfortunate suffering of the Palestinians is akin to the suffering of the Japanese or Germans during the Second World War. When you continually resort to violence, inflicting terror on your neighbors, you’re probably going to end up suffering yourself.
Israel has done everything for a peace deal with the Arabs. It gave up land three times its size in Sinai to have peace with Egypt even after Egypt launched wars of annihilation in 1967 and 1973. Its reward today is an Egyptian president who refers to Jews as “bloodsuckers” and “descendants of apes and pigs.”
Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. Result: tens of thousands of murderous rockets being fired at Israeli nurseries and hospitals. And Israel brought Yasser Arafat to the West Bank and armed his 40,000-strong “police” force, thereby creating the Palestinian Authority. Result: over 1,000 dead Jews (in percentage terms, equivalent to 60,000 Americans), blown to smithereens on buses and in discos in the terror that resulted from Oslo I and II. Could any of this have something to do with Peter’s pet peeve, namely that Israel now maintains military checkpoints?
When I get on a plane here in the US I’m not allowed to bring a can of Coke with me. When I go to a meeting in a New York building I have to show ID. Does Peter really believe that after two decades of terrorism from the West Bank Israel is not going to take military measures to stop the terror? Is he kidding himself that Israel should just allow Jews to die?
I am a Jew, and Arabs are my brothers and sisters under God. Every Palestinian life is the equivalent of a Jewish life. No one, least of all me, wants to see any Arab child suffer, God forbid. But my Palestinian brothers need to stop choosing bloodthirsty governments like Hamas – who were elected in a democratic vote. They have to stop putting up monuments to suicide bombers – which I witnessed with my own eyes – who kill Jews. They have to stop teaching their children in schools that Jews are of the devil. They have to stop seeing Israel as a humiliation to Arab pride. And they have to reach out to Israel in peace.
Anything less is only going to prolong the Israel-Palestinian conflict as well as Palestinian suffering. And if Peter really cared more about Palestinian well-being than about attacking Israel he would be courageous enough to say it.
The suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza under Hamas is a powerful case in point.
I visited Gaza City when I took the Rev. Al Sharpton on a solidarity trip to Israel right after September 11, 2001, and witnessed the unspeakable poverty that prevailed under Arafat’s PA, even though, as The New York Times reported, by 2004 the Palestinians had become “the world’s largest per capita recipients of international aid.” Sadly, very little of that money trickled down to Palestinian children due to widespread corruption and theft on the part of the Palestinian leadership.
When Hamas came to power in 2006, rather than investing in infrastructure they used their money for weapons to launch a war against Israeli civilians and turning Gaza not into a Palestinian state but into a launching pad to annihilate the Jews.
Hamas, which rules Gaza with an iron fist, is dedicated to Israel’s destruction and to attacking Jews wherever they may be found, not just in Israel. Its covenant is deeply racist, with genocidal aspirations: “Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts... until the enemy is vanquished and Allah’s victory is realized.” As a Jew, Peter, for all his attacks against Israel, is also on Hamas’ hit list. I need not add how gays and women fare under Hamas rule, whose barbarity includes widespread honor killings of young women and whose usual excuse for persecuting gays is to label them collaborators.
Simple question to Peter: would he be OK with Hamas ruling in the West Bank as well as Gaza, if that is the price to be paid for a Palestinian state?
The Hamas Charter reads like a modern-day Mein Kampf: “The Day of Judgment will not come until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, ‘O Muslims... there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”
The solution for the conflict is for my Palestinian brothers, who currently live in Gaza under the tyranny of Hamas and in the West Bank under the corruption and mismanagement of the PA, to enjoy a benevolent, democratic government like the 1.5 million Arab citizens of Israel, who practice a glorious Islamic faith without encumbrance, publish newspapers without interference, and adhere to the Islamic faith without fear.
The author, “America’s Rabbi” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America” has just published his newest best-seller, The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.