Hasbara talking points won’t work here

Posted: May 30th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: the US and us | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

This letters exchange between ADL’s Abe Foxman and Peter Beinart following Beinart’s much discussed NYRB article on the failure of the American Jewish establishment, is definitely worth reading.

Foxman works along the talking points of Israeli Hasbara: Camp David, Barak and Olmert’s generous offers, Arab rejectionism, etc. (sometimes I feel that I can recite those lines from my sleep, and so can probably Foxman). What I like about Beinart’s answer – as well as on his original article – is his sensitivity to the tones coming out of Israel – and how they sound to the ears young and liberal people (my Italic):

…Palestinian rejectionism cannot explain Avigdor Lieberman’s crusade to humiliate, disenfranchise, and perhaps even eventually expel Arab Israelis, the vast majority of whom want nothing more than to be accepted as equal citizens in the country of their birth… When do American Jewish organizations plan to start forcefully opposing Lieberman and the forces he represents? When he becomes prime minister?


In the real Israel, as opposed to the imaginary one that American Jewish leaders conjure, there is no consensus on a Palestinian state. There are Israelis who believe that such a state is a demographic and moral necessity. And there are Israelis—like Lieberman, Effi Eitam, and the leaders of Shas—who are doing their best to make a Palestinian state impossible, for instance by ringing East Jerusalem with settlements. American Jewish leaders cannot profess solidarity with the first group while serving as intellectual bodyguards for the second.

After the NYRB published Beinart’s article, he was attacked for supposedly misrepresenting some issues or being inaccurate on a certain topic. While even this criticism is debatable, it simply misses the point: Beinart captured the spirit of the moment in Israel – and the way it reflects on his own community. The usual answer – “it’s the Palestinians’ fault” – simply won’t work here, because he wasn’t talking about the Palestinians, but about what Israel has become.

3 Comments on “Hasbara talking points won’t work here”

  1. 1 Ori said at 4:24 am on May 30th, 2010:

    Note how Beinart, correctly, refers to Jews in Israel as “Jewish Israelis”, while Foxman calls us “Israelis”, with not qualification.

    Beinart seems to have moved into bi-national thinking, where both Jews and Arabs are in his mind, while in Foxman’s thoughts Arabs in Israel are non-existent.

  2. 2 noam said at 5:44 am on May 30th, 2010:

    good point, I totally agree, but i wouldn’t call it bi-national thinking – more liberal, or all-citizens – because on the diplomatic front he is definitely a two-state person.

  3. 3 Michael LeFavour said at 6:16 am on May 30th, 2010:

    Beinart is a prime example of the failure of the American Jewish community himself. His ignorant views seem to come from a sterile vacuum where a version of fantasy that disempowers the Arabs and absolves them from any responsibility for their own actions is the energy source that keeps the pendulum swinging back and forth. The question is why? Why does he charge others with wearing moral blinders when he cringes at any source of light himself?

    He claims that the election of Hamas was a tragedy, but fails to accept that the Arabs calling themselves Palestinians elected Hamas because they support a violent and genocidal world view (and as the next generation matures that has been indoctrinated from birth on prolific Nazi-like hate the situation will only worsen). We don’t have mind reading devices yet so we have to rely on polls. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3845743,00.html to prove this. The evidence is clear to anyone looking at all angles dispassionately and with eyes wide open. Hamas is in power because the Arabs want Hamas and want war with the Jews, but Beinart is shocked, shocked and stunned that anyone is talking about separating the two peoples. The horror of it.

    In the Wonderland Beinart dwells in separation is a dirty word and suicide bombing and relentless rocket fire are evils that the Jewish elites hold their noses over and accept without comment. In Beinart’s reality it is right wing Jewish settlers that weaken the Arab stooge Abbas. It is Jews living in the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people that one must point to and condemn. It doesn’t matter if Lieberman’s views evolved as a reaction to Arab violence or not, good Jews take the blame for all the evils of the people they inconvenience. In the ivory tower Beinart lives in the yellow star, the Totenkopf, and the roasting flesh of the innocent are just an inconvenience that is never discussed over dinner in polite society.

    The point is that Beinart is an ignorant elitist that has divorced his world view from ugly reality. All one has to do is answer the question of whether Avigdor Lieberman’s so called crusade against the poor, poor Arabs came first or the slit throats, grenade attacks, and suicide bombings did? A snapshot of a moment frozen in time without understanding how it got t0 this point is useless as a learning tool. You can recite the so called Hasbara in your sleep? Yet you are guilty of the same tired “it’s the Israelis fault” approach to every issue, Noam. You are no different from those you condemn except you are fighting on the wrong side of morality and ethics when you reward the supporters of gross human rights violations with your allegiance.