Beinart's concessions to Israeli fears are similarly perfunctory. "Yes, Israelis understandably worry about a nuclear Iran," he writes, while failing to note that the region's Arab regimes worry just as much. Indeed, this sentence is as far as Beinart goes in attempting to explain the region's complicated politics. There is no appreciation of the regional Cold War pitting Iran and Syria, along with their terrorist proxies, against Israel and the status quo ante Arab governments. Such nuances get in the way of a narrative that seeks to blame American Jews and not, say, Iranian mullahs or Syrian autocrats for the lack of a Palestinian state. But Israel's security -- and the entire region's stability -- requires something more substantive than Beinart's myopic approach, which sees little worth analyzing beyond the views emanating out of Likud headquarters.
While Beinart is a sharp analyst of U.S. domestic politics, he fails to appreciate how Israel's repeated, spurned attempts at peace have resulted in the utter collapse of the Israeli left. Although he quotes former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's statement that Israel could become an "apartheid state" should the occupation persist, he doesn't mention that Olmert offered the Palestinians essentially the same proposal as Barak, only to have it rejected out of hand.
As for former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's unilateral evacuation of settlements from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Beinart only describes the dismantling as "proposed." He doesn't explain that Sharon, with overwhelming support from an Israeli public hungry for peace, actually went through with the task. In return for the withdrawal, Israel was greeted by Hamas's violent takeover of Gaza in 2007 and a hail of rockets that terrorized southern Israeli cities. (In line with his obsessive cataloguing of the most egregious examples of Israeli right-wing rhetoric, Beinart does find the space to quote the spiritual leader of the Orthodox Shas Party urging "God strike [Sharon] down" for the withdrawal. Yet he neglects to mention that the same rabbi recently called for a complete stop to settlement construction in Jerusalem in order to improve Israel's relationship with the United States.)
At the end of the day, if Beinart truly thinks that the Israeli government is to blame for the current impasse, his problem does not lie with Israel's defenders in the United States. Rather, his dispute lies with the Israeli electorate, which, after all, voted the Israeli government into power. But rather than confront this reality -- that his own prescriptions for the Middle East are wildly out of step with the Israeli people -- Beinart targets those in his own country who have loudly criticized the Obama administration's bungled diplomatic attempts to pressure Israel.
Like his latter-day opposition to the Iraq war, Beinart is late to joining the anti-"Jewish establishment" bandwagon. But for all his hand-wringing about the rightward turn in Israeli politics, he offers few suggestions as to how American Jews can alleviate the situation other than the pious instruction that they demonstrate concern "by talking frankly about Israel's current government, by no longer averting our eyes." He concludes his essay by quoting approvingly the words of former Knesset Speaker Avrum Burg -- a man who has compared Israel to pre-Nazi Germany, suggested revoking the law of return (which allows diaspora Jews to become Israeli citizens), and called upon all Israelis to obtain foreign passports. If this is what Beinart means by "talking frankly" about Israel, one wishes he were as vigilant about those seeking to destroy it.