Wednesday, February 26, 2014

From Peter Beinart in Haaretz:
Last spring, some students at New York’s most prestigious Orthodox Jewish high school, Ramaz, eager for a greater diversity of perspectives on Israel, invited me to speak to their club. I did - and enjoyed it immensely - but told them I hadn’t solved their problem. If they wanted a truly open discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I ventured, they needed to do more than hear from both hawkish and dovish Zionists. They needed to hear from Palestinians.

To my surprise, they asked me to help make it happen. I recommended Columbia Professor Rashid Khalidi, partly because he’s a world-renowned expert on Palestinian history and partly because I know Orthodox Jewish graduate students who consider him a mentor and friend. Khalidi agreed; the students were thrilled. He was set to speak on February 19.

Next thing I knew, the head of the Ramaz Upper School had canceled the talk and students had gathered a petition demanding “open dialogue” about Israel.

...What does it say about the administrators at Ramaz that after immersing their high school students in a passionately Zionist environment for years and years, they lack the self-confidence to expose them to one lecture from a Palestinian?
When Peter Beinart was the editor of the ill-fated "Open Zion" experiment, he did not seek to include a single Jewish resident of Judea and Samaria as a regular writer. (He had one token right winger, and people he claimed were right-wingers but who support a two-state solution.)

I have never seen a Jewish resident of Judea and Samaria invited to speak at any event at Amnesty International, at Human Rights Watch, at any non explicitly Zionist event at any university, at any "Jewish Voice for Peace" event, or at any "Peace Now" event.

Why isn't Beinart deriding all of these groups for being against "open dialogue?" Doesn't their failure to invite right-wing Zionists to speak prove their lack of self-confidence in their positions?

Oh, no. Only right wing Zionists and right wing Orthodox Jews are uninterested in dialogue.

The media is filled with anti-Zionism as a given. The idea that Jews have a right to live in their ancestral lands - even those legally purchased by their very grandfathers - is anathema in the press. Right-wing Zionists are far, far more exposed to leftist opinions than vice versa. The extent of leftist knowledge of right-wing Zionist positions is that they are all either religious fanatics or hell-bent on ethnic cleansing; they could not even fathom any arguments for Jews living in Judea and Samaria based on international law, human rights or basic ethics. I've seen their arguments, and they do not usually go beyond proof by assertion. Doesn't that betray a lack of self-confidence in their positions?

Beinart, supposedly so interested in openness, only advocates openness for one side.

High school students don't exactly have the most mature knowledge of subject matter, yet Beinart insists that Zionist students be exposed to positions that go against their upbringing and their parents' wishes. But right-wingers are not welcome by leftist groups meant for adults!

Who is lacking self confidence?

Are there any Catholic high schools that would invite an atheist to speak to their students? Are there any that would invite gay activists to speak to their students? For that matter, would any public high schools ask people who advocate open marriages to speak? Would they invite the people behind websites that encourage people to cheat on their spouses to discuss Internet entrepreneurship? Isn't everything fair game? Doesn't this show a lack of self-confidence?

Or is that only an issue for Zionist Orthodox Jewish high school students?

If Ramaz students want to hear from Khalidi, there is no shortage of ways for them to access his books and articles. No one is stopping them. But that doesn't mean that their private school must invite an entire gamut of opinion that is antithetical to what that school teaches. This is common sense - to all except Peter Beinart.

Even worse, Khalidi - who Beinart praises so highly and wants to speak to young Zionists - is a liar. He claims that the 1936 riots that killed hundreds in Palestine were "non-violent." He claims that Jews are not a people. He lies about Avigdor Lieberman's positions. His history is filled with inaccuracies.  And here we see that he pushes bizarre conspiracy theories.

So Beinart wants a lying, viciously anti-Israel activist who is against a two-state solution to spout propaganda  to impressionable young Jews, but he does not say a word about dedicated Zionists making a fair case to non- and anti-Zionists. (Of course, Beinart's brand of "Zionism" is the most right-wing that is acceptable for dialogue, everyone to the right of him must not be heard.)

Is that hypocritical? You bet.

(h/t Alex)

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