“If the line has not yet been crossed, where is the line?”

Posted: May 17th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

An interesting article from Peter Beinart on the the New York Review of Books. Though he overestimate the power and presence of the liberal left in Israel right now, Beinart does hit the point regarding not only the carte blanche the Jewish establishment is giving Israel, but also on the dangerous effect this blind support has on the Israeli society.

There is an epidemic of not watching among American Zionists today. A Red Cross study on malnutrition in the Gaza Strip, a bill in the Knesset to allow Jewish neighborhoods to bar entry to Israeli Arabs, an Israeli human rights report on settlers burning Palestinian olive groves, three more Palestinian teenagers shot—it’s unpleasant. Rationalizing and minimizing Palestinian suffering has become a kind of game. In a more recent report on how to foster Zionism among America’s young, [Republican pollster Frank] Luntz urges American Jewish groups to use the word “Arabs, not Palestinians,” since “the term ‘Palestinians’ evokes images of refugee camps, victims and oppression,” while “‘Arab’ says wealth, oil and Islam.”

Of course, Israel—like the United States—must sometimes take morally difficult actions in its own defense. But they are morally difficult only if you allow yourself some human connection to the other side. Otherwise, security justifies everything. The heads of AIPAC and the Presidents’ Conference should ask themselves what Israel’s leaders would have to do or say to make them scream “no.” After all, Lieberman is foreign minister; Effi Eitam is touring American universities; settlements are growing at triple the rate of the Israeli population; half of Israeli Jewish high school students want Arabs barred from the Knesset. If the line has not yet been crossed, where is the line?

hattip: Joseph dana.

UPDATE: it seems that this article is making some noise. Many friends and contacts of mine have mailed or posted it, and Jstreet issued a statement echoing Beinart’s concern.