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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Peter Beinart’

The Three Little Kosher Pigs

Monday, April 28th, 2014

It is always amusing to see the look on the faces of fellow American Jews when they discover that I am a Republican. Lacking originality, they typically say, “A Republican Jewish woman? Now that’s an oxymoron!” Well no, not at all.

Sadly, Israel has become a partisan issue. But it is the Republicans who are her staunchest supporters. Yet ironically, the vast majority of American Jews, whose progressive values are flaunted with elitist moral authority, have found a home in the Democrat party — the one whose members boo any mention of God and Jerusalem and whose policy makers formulate plans and strategies that are simply dangerous for Israel.

As we finish celebrating Passover during which time we remember our peoples’ exodus from bondage in Egypt to a life of freedom in Israel and observe Yom Hashoah — Holocaust Remembrance Day — it is an appropriate time to reflect on the state of Jewish Zionism in America.

What does it say about a people who align themselves with  political organizations that at best feign support for Israel for fundraising purposes but in reality take measures that could possibly harm that country’s long-term survival? In the face of existential dangers including growing Islamic fundamentalist death threats that are ignored around the world (including in the UN, EU and US) and growing apathy of Jews in the diaspora, perhaps a brief history of the Jewish peoples’ struggles against anti-Semitism is worth a revisit.

A modern version of Jewish history can be analyzed through the lens of the Three Little Pigs. In the Jewish version of this fable, the Jewish people are the three pigs (the kosher version, of course) looking to build a home to live as Jews in peace. The anti-Semites are the big bad wolf (of which there is no shortage) intent on ripping the pigs from their homes and destroying them.

The Jews in ancient times built houses of straw that were blown awayby anti-Semitic wolves during the Roman Empire, the Spanish Inquisition, and centuries-old pogroms. By the time they reached the shores of Europe in the later part of the 20th century, Jews built wooden homes believing themselves safe to practice their religion among the wolves in sheep’s clothing. We all know how that ended.

In the Jewish version of the story, the third pig represents two brothers that I’ll call Cain and Abel. Abel smartly moved to the land of Israel. The Jews in Israel learned their lessons of history, recognized their responsibility as God’s Chosen People, and built homes of bricks. And every time the big bad wolf attempted to climb down the chimney and destroy them, they further fortified their cities with concrete walls and missile defense systems. After thousands of years of wandering the global desert, they understood the gift – and obligation – bestowed upon them by God. To call these Jews survivors would be an understatement.

Cain moved to the U.S. and presents quite a different story indeed. American Jews have not learned the lessons of history and ignore their responsibilities to God and the Jewish people as a whole. Instead of building houses of bricks they have chosen to build a “big tent.”

They emulate their European ancestors who focused so intently on assimilating into society that they could not see the fires of the Holocaust burning around them. They worship false idols and pray at the Torah of abortion rights, environmentalism, and socialism much the way the Jewish people fell for the golden calf while waiting for Moses to descend Mt. Sinai with God’s Commandments.

Like their ancestors, American Jews may find themselves forced to wander a desert of secular empty activism in the hopes of one day returning to their homeland if they do not wake up to the dangers surrounding them. A big tent is no way to survive when big bad wolves are looking to destroy you.

The Courage of Cory Booker

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

President Obama has dropped the hammer on sixteen Democratic senators who have joined a bold Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, and Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois, in co-sponsoring new legislation that will increase sanctions against Iran should they fail to follow through on their pledges to halt uranium enrichment. The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013 has also attracted forty-three Republican co-sponsors bringing the total to 59. If they get to 67, they will have a veto-proof majority, something the White House is doing everything to prevent.

One of those brave sixteen is my close friend Senator Cory Booker, who has had a unique and special relationship with the Jewish community since I met him as an undergraduate at Oxford University in 1992. As is well known, Cory served as president of my Oxford L’Chaim society, where he arguably became the first African-American-Christian head of a major Jewish organization in history. Cory and I then began studying Torah on a regular basis and he has probably been invited to lecture more American Jewish communal venues than any other political figure in the United States. What Cory has seen, as have his other intrepid senate colleagues, is that Iran is an immense danger to the world in general, and Israel and the United States in particular.

Iran is a menace. This is a regime that exhibits brutality in every field. I just finished reading Days of God, by James Buchan, which is a phenomenal history of modern Iran, from Reza Shaw’s time, who ruled Iran from 1925-1941, to Muhammad Reza, who ruled as Shah until 1979, through Khomeini’s Iranian revolution of that same year to the regime currently run by the murderous and barbarous Ayatollah Ali Khameini.

This is a regime that recruited boys from the age of twelve to fight against Saddam’s armies in the ten year Iran-Iraq war. This regime even had ruthless Iraqi soldiers crying as they mowed down Iranian boys attacking them across battlefields, and Iran used children in the Iran-Iraq war to clear minefields, as detailed in Ami Pedahzur’s Root Causes of Suicide Terrorism. It is the same regime that stones women to death for accusations of infidelity. It hangs homosexuals from cranes in the capital of Tehran. It is the regime that our state department lists as one of the foremost global exporters of terrorism. It funds Hezbollah, which blew up 241 American peacekeeping marines, soldiers, and sailors in 1983 Beirut. It is the regime which mowed down their own people in the streets of Tehran in the Green Revolution of 2009, when innocent Iranians protested a stolen election. And it is the regime that publicly shot 26-year-old protester Nada Agha-Soltan in the heart.

Today Iran, like a heat-seeking missile, continues to seek out warm Jewish blood wherever it may be spilled, like the 2012 brutal murder of six innocent Israelis who planned simply to lie on a beach on a Bulgarian vacation but instead came home in a box.

That Obama is placing all the pressure on 16 Senators from his own party rather than squarely on the Iranians where it belongs is, sadly, true to form. Whatever debatable successes the President has had in domestic policies, what is indisputable is his catastrophic foreign policy. Iraq today has turned into one giant suicide explosion and large parts of the country, like Fallujah, where so many marines died, are slowly going over to Al Qaida. Egypt is a mess and utterly distrusts the United States. John Kerry comes to Israel every week to make what he calls an urgent peace between Israel and the Palestinians yet utterly ignores the 130,000 dead in the Syrian Civil War, just slightly to the north. Russia has gained the upper hand over the United States in global diplomacy and Vladimir Putin bestrides the world like a colossus. And with all that, President Obama is insistent on pressuring brave Democratic Senators of his own party, who want to keep Iran in check, so that he can hand over to the murderous mullahs $10 billion so that they can prop up their regime without demanding that they dismantle their nuclear framework. A great deal of the President’s pressure is falling on our newly elected Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.

Last month I and Birthright-co-founder Michael Steinhardt, who is also a former chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, took out full page ads in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal promoting the message of my hero and friend, Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel, to whom I introduced Senator Booker, beseeching President Obama, as well as the United States Senate, to insist that Iran’s nuclear facilities be dismantled. Inspections, Wiesel said, are not enough as we discovered with North Korean who agreed to a similar deal in 1994 only to lie and detonate a bomb in 2006.

Contrasting Wiesel’s call in the Jewish community was Peter Beinart, a member of Cory’s Rhodes Scholar class and someone I hosted at Shabbat meals at Oxford. While Beinart and I remain friendly, that did not stop him from savaging Cory (do I detect a hint of envy?) for his close relationship with the Jewish community in general, and me in particular, in a column where Beinart was forced to change the libelous subhead after he claimed it was written by an underling without his approval. Unlike Wiesel who is known as one of the most respected moral voices in the word, Beinart, of course, is best-known for calling for a boycott on Israeli products like Soda Stream because they are manufactured beyond the green line, the arbitrary armistice line of 1949 where the Arab armies, threatening Israel’s annihilation, were halted. Beinart’s column and forum, Open Zion, has now been canceled by the Daily Beast, presumably due to lack of interest, and he has been reduced to writing his screeds in Haaretz, where he has become yet another tiresome critic of Israel. Beinart has accepted my invitation to debate me on Iran and we hope to shortly stage the event.

Beinart and his kind scapegoat Israel’s settlers as principal obstacles to Middle East peace while Khomeini himself scapegoated the United Sates for the same. Khomeini’s followers coined the now familiar Iranian chant of America as the great Satan. Today, Iran is developing intercontinental missiles with a range that could reach targets in the continental United States. But even if that were not the case, imagine how courageous it must be, to be a Democratic senator like Cory Booker, to oppose, as one of your first acts as a newly elected Senator, the leader of your own party, the President of the United States, on insisting that Iran now acquire weapons of mass destruction.

In 1955 President John F. Kenney published his Pulitzer-Prize winning book, Profiles in Courage, which detailed gutsy actions on the part of United States Senator who followed their conscience on matters of principle even if it lost them votes or ran afoul of their own party. Since then the American people have significantly soured on Congress, which today has an approval rating of just nine percent. But what Cory and his 15 other Democratic colleagues have shown is that courage in the United States Senate is alive and well.

Peter Beinart’s Attack on Me and Cory Booker

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Last week Peter Beinart wrote a column on The Daily Beast called “Cory Booker’s Rabbis” which surmised that my 20 year friendship with the Democratic Senate Candidate in New Jersey, and my having brought him to the Jewish community, might be pushing him toward too much of a pro-Israel posture. Peter, whom I also know from Oxford when he was a Rhodes scholar and whom I like and respect amid our considerable differences on Israel, offered many myths about my relationship with Cory, who served as President of my student organization at Oxford University. I responded at length to his attack.

Now, most people know when they’re beat and Peter’s original broadside against me and Cory was so weak that it was easy to demolish. But some people are just gluttons for punishment and now Peter is back for more.

Not content to have damaged his reputation as a writer and editor by fraudulently accusing me of racism and then blaming it on a low-level staffer, and not content to have sullied his reputation for diligence by inventing myths like me and Cory never having discussed Israel or the Middle East, Peter is back condemning Israel, only this time he’s using pictures of Boruch Goldstein’s grave to make his desperate case.

How many Jews in the entire world support the Jewish terrorist Boruch Goldstein? Would even Peter put it at more than a few hundred out of fourteen million? Peter should have remained with his original apology – which I accept – and quit while he is behind.

Here is the main point against Peter’s rejoinder to me, and indeed his entire position on the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Of course the Palestinians are suffering, as Cory himself said in a recent interview with The Forward. The question is, why? Who is to blame? And how can their suffering be remedied?

For Peter, who always hides behind his self-declared status as a Zionist to attack Israel, the reason is simple. Israel oppresses the Palestinians. But for those interested in facts the unfortunate suffering of the Palestinians is akin to the suffering of the Japanese or Germans during the Second World War. When you continually resort to violence, inflicting terror on your neighbors, you’re probably going to end up suffering yourself.

Israel has done everything to have a peace deal with the Arabs. It gave up land three times its size in Sinai to have peace with Egypt even after Egypt launched war of annihilation in 1967 and 1973. Its reward today is having an Egyptian President who refers to Jews as “bloodsuckers” and “descendants of apes and pigs.” Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. Result: tens of thousands of murderous rockets being fired at Israeli nurseries and hospitals. And Israel brought Yasser Arafat to the West Bank and armed his forty-thousand-strong ‘police’ force, thereby creating the Palestinian Authority. Result, more than a thousand dead Jews, equivalent to sixty thousand Americans, blown to smithereens on buses and in discos in the terror that resulted from Oslo I and II. Could any of this have something to do with Peter’s pet peeve, that Israel now maintains military checkpoints?

When I get on a plane here in the US I’m not allowed to bring a can of Coke. When I go to a meeting in a New York building to visit a friend I have to show ID. Does Peter really believe that after two decades of terrorism from the West Bank Israel is not going to take military measures to stop the terror? Is he kidding himself that Israel should just allow Jews to die?

I am a Jew and Arabs are my brothers and sisters under God. Every Palestinian life is the equivalent of a Jewish life. Noone, least of all me, wants to see any Arab child suffer, God forbid. But my Palestinian brothers need to stop choosing bloodthirsty governments like Hamas, who were elected in a democratic vote. They have to stop putting up monuments to Shahid suicide bombers – which I witnessed with my own eyes – who kill Jews. They have to stop teaching their children in schools that Jews are of the devil. They have to stop seeing Israel as a humiliation to Arab pride. And they have to reach out to Israel in peace. Anything less is only going to prolong the Israel-Palestinian conflict as well as Palestinian suffering. And if Peter really cared more about Palestinian well being then attacking Israel he would be courageous enough to say it. The suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza under Hamas is a powerful case in point.

Peter Beinart, ADL Chief, Spar over ‘Crisis’ in Zionism at President’s Conference

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

The final day of the ‘Facing Tomorrow’ 2012 Presidential Conference in Jerusalem featured some of the most anticipated panels of the conference, including one on the relationship between Israel and World Jewry headlined by the controversial Peter Beinart and Abe Foxman of the ADL, and another on the future borders of Israel featuring journalist Caroline Glick, nationalist leader Naftali Bennett, and former IDF Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Ilan Paz.

The panel on Israel-diaspora Jewry relations was highlighted by a heated debate over the state of relations, and its ability to maintain its previous levels of closeness. Beinart, the former editor of The New Republic and current darling of the liberal media after the publication of his book The Crisis of Zionism, said: “We Are Witnessing the Slow Decline of the Zionist Consensus.” He pointed the finger of blame at leaders of the U.S. Jewish establishment, and their lack of willingness to deal openly and honestly with Israel. “What alienates young American Jews is the fact that they see Israelis criticizing Israeli policy, but they don’t hear the same candor from American Jews.”

Several panelists challenged Beinart’s perception of a crisis. Foxman said: “My love and support for Israel is unconditional, it does not depend on the Israeli acceptance of my ideas. My Zionism is not in crisis because my Zionism is not conditioned on an idealized view of what I’d like Israel to be.”

Alana Newhouse, Editor-in-Chief of Tablet Magazine, also disagreed with Beinart’s assessment, warning of the consequences of “crying wolf,” and worrying that the talk of an emergency could become “a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

The panel also included moderator Shmuel Rosner, Chair of the Israel Diaspora Paradigm Committee Pierre Besnainou, and Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic.

All panelists agreed that the Diaspora community needed to focus more on Jewish education and introducing young Jews to the importance of Israel, with Wieseltier lamenting U.S. Jewry’s reliance on Israel for its Jewish identity.

“Israel was not created to relieve U.S. Jewry of the burden of creating its own identity,” said Wieseltier. “In so far as the weakening affiliation is real, a moment of truth is arriving for American Jews and we can finally see what kind of Judaism U.S. Jewry is capable of.”

In the panel on Israel’s borders, experts from both sides of the political spectrum offered competing visions and solutions. Panelists addressed both geographical and demographic concerns and commented on the feasibility of drawing borders that would be acceptable to the international community, to the Palestinians and at the same time maintain the sustainability and safety of Israel.

Former West Bank Territorial Brigades Commander Gen. (Ret.) Ilan Paz stated that, in his view, “the demographical threat should dictate Israel’s action over geographical concerns.” Citing a population of more than 4 million in the Palestinian Territories, and the current Israeli population of 49% Jewish, 47% Arab, he claimed that, “by 2015 Jews will be the minority in Israel. This is really the existential threat – and this is the gist of the conflict between the left and the right.”

Caroline Glick, Senior Contributing Editor of the Jerusalem Post disagreed with Paz, stating that these figures were highly skewed, and claimed that the demographic future belongs to the Jewish people. She argued that the Jews will still maintain a 2:1 ratio over the Arab population, citing the convergence of fertility rates and the potential mass Aliya (immigration) to Israel.

Additionally, Glick maintained that Israel had exhausted the options that have been called for by the international community: “We have seen that sole Palestinian sovereignty –in Gaza- has failed. We have also seen that shared sovereignty in Judea and Samaria does not work. We have fulfilled our international obligation to attempt to reach an agreed reconciliation with the Palestinians. They have made it clear that they are unwilling to make peace with Israel and have shown that they are not interested in a Palestinian State. Instead they have focused their efforts on destroying the Jewish State.”

In her opinion, Israeli withdrawal is the worst option and that “Israel belongs to the Jews by law and right and should stop hemming and hawing and just say it and rule it.”

Naftali Bennett, the up-and-coming religious Zionist leader and founder of the Yisraelim Party suggested that the Palestinians be granted autonomy, but not a State; thus precluding a Palestinian army and an influx of Palestinian refugees from the region.

Peter Beinart and Zionism

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Another great session at Tomorrow 2012 – the President’s Conference in Jerusalem. This time, it was Peter Beinart in a specially arranged session for bloggers.

Peter Beinart has written a book called The Crisis of Zionism. When I agree with the New York Times, you know something is amazing. Here‘s what was written about his book in the NY Times:

He [Beinart] sets out to save the country by labeling many of its leaders racist, denouncing many of its American supporters as ­Holocaust-obsessed enablers and advocating a boycott of people and products from beyond Israel’s 1967 eastern border.

I’ll start by saying I haven’t read it – maybe Mr. Beinart wants to send me a complimentary copy? Probably not. So let me write about what he said, and not what he wrote. Perhaps had I read the book, I’d have been more prepared. I wasn’t.

He began with a justification for an argument that I’ve had with myself for many years, even before I moved to Israel. If it isn’t your son on the border of Israel, do you have the right to criticize, to advise, and perhaps even to condemn Israel for what it does to survive and thrive in this area of the world. This touches on information from a second session that I don’t want to write about here. I want to focus on Beinart.

I’ll start by saying he was charming and he is clearly a great thinker. He spoke of his Egyptian-born grandmother (who disagrees with his politics and thinks, as I do, that he is painfully naive). He’s a man with an opinion, that is clear and he’s stubborn. Facts are unlikely to sway him. Interestingly enough, he touched not just on Israel, but on American Jewry and there his views come close to mine. I’ll explain that one in a second.

First, about Israel.

He has built a mountain on shifting sands; an argument on facts that simply are inaccurate. He said, “what legitimizes Israel is its democracy.” What an absurd statement. First, why does Israel need to be legitimized? When was the last time anyone asked what right the US had to exist? Wait, the US is a democracy. Okay, when was the last time someone asked what right North Korea has a right to exist or what legitimacy it has?

Then, Peter Beinart decided to play a game – an insulting one and one of the many reasons why he does not have a right to think his opinion should mean anything here – until it is his son on our borders. He has decided that it is acceptable to boycott products from the West Bank but he encourages purchasing products from what he inaccurately and annoyingly refers to as “democratic” Israel. Here again is the latest form of idol worship that plagues Beinart and many left-wing American Jews – democracy. It is not God who determines the future, the present, the right and wrong of things – it is the idol known as democracy, that Beinart worships.

I’m all for democracy. I would vote for it anytime. But Israel is greater than our democracy. Our democracy is a sign of our humanity, our freedom, and who we are – it is not what we are.

I wanted to ask Beinart if he was a Zionist and if he had answered that he was, I would have asked him to define Zionism because I do not believe you can be a Zionist and at the same time support a path that could so easily lead to our destruction. His path for our future involves our taking all the risks at a time when we have no peace partner. I wanted to ask him who our peace partners are – these non-existent dreamers that he trusts them with our future and security but he had already quickly dismissed security as “another argument” in this intellectual game. And to a large extent, that’s what Israel is to him and to others who came to the conference to share their opinions with us – an intellectual game, an academic exercise. As Beinart was talking, almost literally, Israel was being hit by rockets. Nine today, and the day is still young; and only one day after Israel was hit with almost 70 rockets.

When the conversation finally turned to American Jewry, Beinart was not optimistic about its future. His best line was clearly, “We’ve built better Holocaust memorials than we’ve built Jewish schools.” I agree.

His discussion reminded me of something Yaakov Kirschen of Dry Bones said years ago – almost 30 years ago to be exact. He said to a rather shocked and disbelieving crowd of young college students at Columbia University (paraphrased slightly): in another few generations, there will be no Jews in America. I asked him did he really believe that all American Jews were going to make aliyah? I said it in the voice of the doubter, as if I was so smart, and he so stupid. I thought he was impossibly naive and though I shared his pro-aliyah (moving to Israel) dream, I really wanted him to wake up to reality. And then he looked at me and I realized it wasn’t him being naive and I certainly wasn’t the smart one in the conversation. And quietly, slowly, he responded “I didn’t say that.”

Years later, I would learn an interesting fact of history – when the Jews left Egypt…not all the Jews left. According to most sources, 4 our of 5, 80% never left. The first time I heard this, I thought of American Jews – 80%, I would guess, will never come to Israel – will be lost. It fits with what remains of my family in America.

I don’t know what the future of American Jewry will be – if my family there is a measure, American Jewry is in deep trouble (in one case, one uncle’s children are running at 75% having married non-Jews). I do know that Peter Beinart’s naive, academic and decidedly inaccurate view does indeed damage Israel – because he gives others the false idea that peace is within our hands and to achieve it, we must take risks that he, from the safety of his American shores, suggests for my sons.

When it is your sons on the borders of Israel, Mr. Beinart, let’s talk. Till then, maybe your next book should be, The Crisis of American Jewry. At least that book, you have the knowledge and the right to write.

Israel’s Ambassador Urging Jewish Unity in Detroit

Monday, May 7th, 2012

The Detroit Free Press reports that Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, speaking Sunday at a Jewish-American conference in Detroit, said that his country has to hold on to its Jewish identity, and he urged American Jews to remain united with other Jews around the world in their support for Israel.

“Together, we must invest in our future,” Ambassador Oren told about 200 people at the Renaissance Center in Detroit during the annual conference of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

Oren criticized intensifying attempts by Americans, including US Jews, to boycott Israel and Israeli settlements. Peter Beinart, a writer who is an Orthodox Jew, has called Jews to boycott products from Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories.

Oren said Beinart’s plan is unrealistic and bigoted.

“As a practical matter, you can’t do it,” Oren said. Also, “it is prejudiced.… It’s very dangerous.”

Oren’s visit to Detroit came following the controversy over his appearance on CBS’s show “60 Minutes” last month that criticized Israel’s treatment of Palestinian Christians.

Oren defended Israel’s treatment of Christians, pointing out that Israel has the “only growing Christian population” among countries in the Middle East. Speaking to the Detroit Free Press after his talk, Oren said that Christians in Israel are doing well “economically, socially, academically.”

Radio: Fleisher v. Beinart – Different Visions of Israel

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Yishai Fleisher comments on a recent interview from the Charlie Rose television show featuring Peter Beinart, a well-known author, political pundit, and associate professor.  Rose and Beinart discuss the current state of the “two-state solution” concept and factors, such as continued Jewish settlement, that affect potential implementation.  Beinart presents his opinions on Middle East topics such as the Sinai and the US role in providing security in Israel, and the proposed Palestinian State.  Fleisher presents analysis of the interview throughout and reveals a different perspective.

Yishai Fleisher Analyzes Peter Beinart’s Interview on Charlie Rose Show

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/radio-fleisher-v-beinart-different-visions-of-israel/2012/04/20/

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