Jewish individuals like Peter Beinart, author of the forthcoming The Crisis of Zionism, fuel the notion that Israel’s so-called settlement activity is at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian strife. Furthermore, Beinart questions the very legitimacy of Israel’s democracy,
Beinart believes that the answer is “Zionist BDS” against Israeli settlements and all they produce. Like many post-Zionists and revisionists he tries to draw a reality that puts the entire onus on Israel. Such distorted narrative maintains that Israel is largely to blame for the collapse of the Oslo negotiations and subsequent failure to revive them, rather than Arab rejectionism or Yasser Arafat’s web of lies to his people, Israel and the US.
All of the above ties nicely into the views of the United Nations, which recently passed a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council ordering its first probe of how Israel's West Bank settlements are infringing on Palestinians' rights. The resolution was adopted with 36 votes in favor and 10 abstentions. The US was the only country to vote against the draft resolution.
Cognitive dissonance - the discomfort caused by carrying conflicting beliefs or values simultaneously - applies to many aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is an especially apt description of the emotions produced by the difference between historical fact and the Palestinians’ own view of their national narrative.
The notion of “occupation” has become the defining lens through which everything about the Palestinians’ self conception is explained and justified. This is exactly the myopic view taken by Beinart. The only difference is that unlike anti-Israel ideologues like Norman Finkelstein, Ilan Pappe and others, Beinart claims to be a lover of Zion – just one who is having a difficult time grappling with the “harsh” Israeli reality.
Israel alive and well
Palestinians clung on to notions of being “stateless,” “occupied” and forever refugees, allowing them to never take responsibility or be accountable as a functioning society and “state to be.” Believing this is the truth produces Beinart’s anguish. However, this is not the truth.
The American Jewish community is facing a crisis, one that has made the red lines of Jewish identity blurry and led to the “big tent” debate - in other words, the perceived Jewish need to accept everyone in the name of being open and pluralistic. Of course, such well meaning individuals who have made Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) a religion would not dare “occupy” another people, ergo, Israeli policies are bad.
Despite the above, the Zionist enterprise of 2012 is alive and well - not perfect but indeed thriving, as illustrated in Start Up Nation. The so-called crisis is only in the minds of Beinart, JStreet and its followers, who feel uncomfortable with the measures Israel has to take in order to ensure its survival. The failure among such “open minded” Jews to understand the damage they do to the historical Zionist narrative by adopting the Palestinian one will only prolong the “occupation,” rather than end it.
Asaf Romirowsky is an adjunct scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Middle East Forum