Finally, Beinart’s distortions are also revealed in the review by Rabbi David Wolpe, the rabbi of the Los Angeles Sinai Temple. Rabbi Wolpe, like Rabbi Hirsch, is not a supporter of most Israeli settlements. But as he writes:
It is hard to make a case that many of Israel’s settlements are anything but an impediment to a final resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians. Granted, there are settlements and there are settlements, a distinction to which Beinart gives little attention. Ma’ale Adumim, for example, is a town of 40,000. But 50 people planted between Palestinian cities needing to be guarded by Israeli soldiers, bent on proving that Jews can live anywhere on God given land are a foolish and shameful drain on the resources of the state.
He goes on to note that Beinart offers “some spotty history, and an inaccurate picture of both American Jewry and some of its central organizations.” He proves that Beinart blames Israel for not obtaining peace throughout his book, and to prove his point, he quotes an Israeli diplomat and historian, Shlomo Ben-Ami, as saying:
If I were a Palestinian I would have rejected the Camp David accords.
That quote, Wolpe shows, is a “complete misrepresentation” of Ben-Ami’s position. This is what the historian and diplomat actually wrote:
Never, in the negotiations between us and the Palestinians, was there a Palestinian counterproposal. There never was and there never will be. So the Israeli negotiator always finds himself in a dilemma: Either I get up and walk out because these guys aren’t ready to put forward proposals of their own, or I make another concession. In the end, even the most moderate negotiator reaches a point where he understands there is no end to it.
So Wolpe reaches this conclusion about Beinart’s book:
Beinart’s argument for two states has tremendous support in the U.S. and in Israel, including among Israel’s military specialists who agree that getting to a two-state solution is essential both demographically and humanely. But we will not get there by whitewashing the unremitting hostility of Israel’s neighbors, or deriding the American Jewish groups that have succeeded in attaining a position of influence through knowledge, hard work and cogent argumentation.
So why the self-lacerating blame? Perhaps this is the true legacy of victimization — you think you must be at fault when things don’t go right.
It is becoming increasingly clear that Peter Beinart’s book reflects only the mindset of very left-wing American Jews, a group in fact that makes up a very tiny percentage of the American Jewish community and that therefore is not reflective at all of how the mainstream of American Jews see things. As Omri Ceren points out in today’s Contentions, the donations by American Jews to Israeli non-profit groups has doubled in the past decade, and in addition polls show that American Jews are more supportive of Israel than ever before. American Jews are not, as Beinart claims, alienated from Israel. The bitter truth is that only left-wing American Jews are, and like their Israeli counterparts in fringe groups like Meretz, they are not representative or important.
Beinart’s audience is the left-liberal readers of The New York Times, where his op-ed appeared, and the readers of the anti-Israel New York Review of Books, which undoubtedly will give Beinart’s book a rave review. These opponents of Israel use Peter Beinart for their own purposes, and although in his own mind he probably does think of himself as a supporter of Israel, he is all too willing to use his skimpy, ill-considered, and dishonest arguments for those who openly wish anything but good for Israel.
No wonder then, that Peter Beinart’s book will be heralded by Israel’s many enemies. And that is something Beinart should seriously think about.