The great biblical wizard Bilaam was one of the most frustrated men in history. Bilaam tried on three consecutive mornings back in the early 1200s BCE to curse the nation of Israel, only to end up composing such poetic praises that we Jews now say them every day in our morning prayers.
Columnist Peter Beinart, a frequent contributor to Haaretz, The Atlantic and the National Journal, is probably not an enemy of Israel on the scale of his predecessor, but, this week, his criticism of both Israel and the American right have backfired in a similar fashion to Bilaam’s, leaving Beinart’s readers with poetic praises where harsh rebukes were intended.
“Today’s conservatives love Israel,” for “the American right, Israel embodies the values that Obama’s U.S. no longer does,” because “they believe the West’s great enemy is ‘radical Islam,’ and the West’s great outpost, on the frontlines against Islamic terror, is Israel. It’s modern; it’s democratic; it’s pro-American. And it’s under attack from the same forces that want to destroy the United States.”
Beinart also attacks Netanyahu, because Netanyahu believes America and Israel are good, and radical Islamists are bad:
“Netanyahu… believes that America and Israel are utterly virtuous while our Islamic enemies are utterly evil.”
Could anyone make a better case for Israel’s triumphant achievements in a mere 67 years or praise Israel’s value system more than what Beinart has unintentionally just done?
Yes, of course, the author probably intended for this entire list to be read out in an ironic tone, while implying a lack of intellectual subtlety on the right with his repeated use of “utterly”, but tone is a tough thing to write, especially from within one’s echo chamber, and an ironistician of Beinart’s stature should know better…
Moreover, according to Beinart, “it’s not just that Israel represents the West. It’s that Israel represents the West at a time when many conservatives feel the United States no longer does.”
That’s the extent of the fun part—because Beinart next delves into fairly ugly racism, suggesting that the shift in the right’s view of the Administration is born by “demographic change,” meaning conservative fear of brown and black people teeming in the streets of America.
That must be it, according to Beinart:
“the United States has become less Christian, less nationalistic and less white. And for many on the right, Barack Obama — a black man with a Muslim father who grew up in Indonesia and supposedly considers American power a bad thing — personifies this shift.”
In other words, in Beinart’s universe, conservatives don’t make up their minds based on the outcome of seven years of presidential policies—it’s because the guy is black.
So much for the piquant note about Beinart, the prophet of Zionist doom, singing an unintentional love song for Israel. Or maybe we’ll just edit out those ugly parts when we canonize his article.
His other point, later on, is actually cogent:
“Conservatives love Israel for the same reason anti-Zionists hate it. Think about the words Israel’s harshest foes use to describe it: colonial, imperial, settler, apartheid. What they all convey is that Israel is a foreign creation, imposed by Europeans, and sustained by the United States, at the native population’s expense. For the American right, being a Western outpost in the Middle East makes Israel heroic. For the anti-Zionist left, it makes Israel illegitimate.”
What an entertaining idea, the right’s Israel-the-shining-outpost is precisely the same as the left’s Israel the blood-dripping-colonial-invader. Obviously, Beinart is enamored with the latter option, but the facts belie that entire argument.
We Jews in Israel are not colonialists but an indigenous, middle-eastern nation whose return to our homeland was followed by an unprecedented flourishing of what had been a desolate desert for two millennia.