Beinart’s rejection of Israeli self-determination •

The audacity of some Jews in the Diaspora in telling Israelis what to do and how to vote really knows no bounds.

French-Israelis celebrate Bastille Day on July 14, 2014 at the French Embassy in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: Courtesy)
French-Israelis celebrate Bastille Day on July 14, 2014 at the French Embassy in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The audacity of some Jews in the Diaspora in telling Israelis what to do and how to vote really knows no bounds.
But Peter Beinart, who often waxes lyrical on what Israel should do, has really outdone himself this time in a piece for Haaretz in which he argues that since in the recent election Israelis voted for parties he does not like, the US administration and American Jewry should adopt a campaign of unrelenting pressure to force those benighted Israelis to change their mind.
His article is an astonishing work of paternalism and a total rejection of the democratic choice of Israelis, who are the only people who have to live with the immediate consequences of decisions made about the future of their country.
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Furthermore, the basis of Beinart’s argument and policy proposals demonstrate that he is willfully ignoring events in the region which occurred a mere eight months ago, not to mention those of the past decade, in order to advance the agenda he wishes to impose on Israel and its citizens.
Beinart begins his piece by saying that “This election was not fought in the shadow of terrorism” and goes on to say that, “In the absence of Palestinian violence and American pressure... Jewish Israelis first pretended as if the Palestinians didn’t exist,” during the election campaign.
There has however been no absence and indeed no shortage of Palestinian violence. During July and August last year, not even eight months ago, more than 4,500 Palestinian rockets rained down on Israel from the Gaza Strip.
Has Beinart really forgotten the latest war with the violent Islamist Hamas regime in Gaza, or is it simply too inconvenient for him to acknowledge that the militarization of the Gaza Strip and the unrelenting aggression against Israel from that territory has engendered a severe sense of insecurity among Israeli citizens? And Beinart has also seemingly forgotten the recent wave of terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the last of which was only four weeks ago, in which Israelis were stabbed and run over by lone-wolf Palestinians, likely motivated by the endless stream of hatred, incitement and anti-Semitism that emanates from all organs of the Palestinian political leadership and media.
He also notes without blanching that “the Israeli government has repeatedly rebuffed” US efforts to broker a Palestinian state, without in any way mentioning Palestinian culpability for repeatedly refusing Israeli peace proposals and for the ongoing maximalist demands and refusal to make concessions which characterizes the Palestinian leadership’s approach to negotiations.
Beinart goes on to say that Israelis ignored the conflict with the Palestinians during the election campaign, but then got scared into voting for Likud because of Netanyahu’s fear-mongering.
Both assertions are undoubtedly true, but Beinart refuses to ask the question of why Netanyahu’s fear-mongering worked.
Is it perhaps because of the facts mentioned above which he ignores but which for Israelis are a very real and immediate memory.
Additionally, Israelis are fully aware that whenever there is a need for their government to protect them, the international community howls and protests, and refuses to acknowledge and allow for the reality of modern asymmetrical conflict, as it does for other armed forces in other parts of the world.
After establishing his false narrative of a lack of Palestinian violence, Beinart goes on to argue that since Israelis voted for a right-wing Knesset and thereby chose not to ignore Palestinian violence as he does, they should be forced through pressure at the UN and by Diaspora Jewry to allow a Palestinian state to be established, regardless of how dangerous this may be to the Jewish state and its citizens.
It is Beinart’s refusal to acknowledge the reality of ongoing Palestinian war-mongering, terrorism and incitement that allows him to build his sandcastle notion that Israel is at fault and that Israel alone needs to be pressured.
This is the central fallacy of the international community’s approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, which has for years absolved the Palestinians of all responsibility and ensured that they never feel any need to make the requisite concessions in order to bring about the state they desire.
But most of all it is Beinart’s condescending and patronizing attitude toward Israeli citizens that is most grating, and is, moreover, utterly misplaced and completely illegitimate.
He does not live in Sderot, Ashkelon, or even Tel Aviv, and does not have to bear the consequences of decisions made in Israel, by the government of Israel, as elected by the citizens of Israel.
It is significant that the towns in southern Israel which have born the brunt of Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza voted overwhelmingly for the Likud.
Instead of attempting to pressure and brow-beat Israelis into submission, maybe Beinart and others should look at why Israelis were so susceptible to Netanyahu’s scare tactics.
Why is it that the majority of the country feels that peace agreements and territorial concessions lead to more violence, and what can be done to change that reality? Furthermore, his assumption that all Israelis voted for Netanyahu and the Right is mistaken. Only a quarter of the country voted for Likud and only just over a third voted for the right wing, including Likud, Yisrael Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi.
Instead of seeking to force Israelis into his way of thinking and into compliance with his ideas for the future, perhaps he could consider how to convince those parts of the electorate that incline toward the Right of the merits of peace deal with the Palestinians and persuade them that their fears my be misplaced.
Ultimately, it is Israelis and Israelis alone whose lives are at risk and whose well-being is endangered by any agreement with the Palestinians that Beinart would wish to foist upon us.
He and others along with him in the Diaspora may tire of their obdurate and boorish cousins in Israel but they have no right to reject the democratic decisions Israelis make in determining their own future.
Diaspora Jewry can and should point out when Israel falls short, when the country’s leadership is too timid and lacks vision. Diaspora Jewry has every right to upbraid Netanyahu for his sectarian agitation and race-baiting, and to criticize the Jewish state when they think it errs.
But it is illegitimate for Beinart to call for efforts to be made to force upon Israeli citizens any solution or proposal for their future when he is not subject to the consequences of such actions.
He may say we are wrong, mistaken, ignorant, intransigent or foolhardy, but he may not tell us what to do if he does not directly share our fate.