Beinart's Blind Spot
Peter Beinart contends that a gap is emerging between liberal American Jews and the state of Israel. If this is correct, the gap (as he does not write, but should) is very much to the discredit of those liberal American Jews.
Peter describes an Israel whose views toward Palestinians and Israel Arabs is hardening. The great omission from Beinart's essay is any attempt to explain why Israeli views toward Palestinians have hardened over the past 15 years. The hardening is presented as a completely free-standing phenomenon, one that has developed without much reference to external realities.
It's as if one tried to explain voter anger in 2010 without reference to the recession.
Yet Peter is likely correct that he describes the way some -- I trust not too many! -- American liberals and Jewish American liberals think about Israel. These liberals cannot understand why Israel would build a border fence, or invade Lebanon and Gaza, or lose interest in a peace deal with the Palestinians. They don't know enough or care enough about Israel's security predicaments to investigate the reasons for these Israeli actions. They are satisfied with the explanation that Israelis used to be nice people, but have now become not nice people.
Peter recommends that the Israelis should become nicer people in the future. What he again does not say -- but should -- is that the niceness he recommends puts Israeli lives at risk. We often hear the advice that Israel should take "risks for peace." Those risks are denominated in mangled bodies and shattered families. How many such risks should Israelis accept? Are 800 lives sufficient? That was the butcher's bill for the last bout of Israeli risk-taking.
Historically, American Jews have followed the rule that it was Israeli voters who should determine the policy of the Israeli state. We might doubt the wisdom of some of those decisions -- as many American Jews doubted the wisdom of the syndicalist socialism that governed the state's first 20 years -- but we recognized that the right to decide belonged to those who paid the price of decision. That was a good rule then. It remains a good rule now.
David Frum is a former speechwriter for U.S. President George W. Bush and the founder of the Frum Forum.