Thursday, September 18, 2014

In Haaretz, Peter Beinart is upset over a proposed resolution by the CUNY Doctoral Students Council to boycott Israel.

Being a leftist Zionist critic of Israel, Beinart (who supports boycotting products made by Jews across the Green Line) sympathizes with their criticism but thinks that they went a bit too far. For example, here is his argument against boycotting Israeli universities:

Paragraph three declares that “Israeli institutions of higher learning are a party to Israeli state policies that violate human rights.” That’s true. They also incubate some of the most passionate opposition to those policies. “Israeli professors and students at Israeli universities who speak out against discriminatory or criminal policies against Palestinians are ostracized and ridiculed.” Yes, sometimes. Yet many Israeli professors and students do speak out against their government’s policies, because compared to most students and faculty in the world, they enjoy considerable freedom of speech. Does isolating them from their counterparts overseas really strengthen their efforts to defend liberal, cosmopolitan ideas against the hyper-nationalism of the Israeli right?
Beinart takes pains to distinguish the "good" Israeli Jews from the "bad" Israeli Jews who should be ostracized, sounding much like John Mearsheimer if not drawing the line in quite the same place.

But it is Beinart's attempt to draw another line that shows how absurd his position is:

I appreciate the fact that the BDS movement - unlike Hamas - practices nonviolence.

But I disagree with the movement’s goals. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the story of a powerful state oppressing a stateless people. But it’s also the story of rival, equally legitimate, nationalisms. In the BDS movement’s call to action, that second story is simply absent. The BDS call to action speaks of the “Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination” without any reference to a similar Jewish right. The proposed CUNY boycott resolution mentions the Palestinians killed in the recent Gaza War without acknowledging that Israeli Jews died too.

If Jewish nationalism is no more legitimate than Palestinian nationalism, then the converse is also true. The BDS movement, sadly, does not recognize that. I hope CUNY will.
If Beinart's main problem with BDS is their inability to accept the Jewish right to a homeland, then - if he wants to be consistent - he must be just as critical of the entire PLO, Palestinian Authority and Fatah.

The current "moderate" Palestinian leadership - the people that we are told over and over again from the likes of Beinart are the most moderate, peace-loving leaders that Palestinian Arabs will ever have - have the identical position as the BDS movement. If anything, they go beyond the BDS movement in that they have been explicit in their denial of Jewish nationalism.

As I reported here, the official position of the PLO is that they must not ever recognize that Jews have the right to a state, or even that the Jewish People exist! In the words of an official PLO Negotiations Unit position paper:

Recognizing the Jewish state implies recognition of a Jewish people and recognition of its right to self-determination. Those who assert this right also assert that the territory historically associated with this right of self-determination (i.e., the self-determination unit) is all of Historic Palestine. Therefore, recognition of the Jewish people and their right of self-determination may lend credence to the Jewish people’s claim to all of Historic Palestine.
The reason that they won't accept a Jewish state is because it implies that the Jewish people exist, not the other way around.

I don't think that the BDS movement ever said something that extreme.

And these are Beinart's "moderate," peace-loving pals. This is Mahmoud Abbas' official position.  These people who are so hateful and deceitful that they cannot admit the existence of a Jewish people.

If the BDS movement is illegitimate because it refuses to recognize Jewish national rights, then so is virtually the entire Palestinian Arab nationalist movement.

But Beinart can't admit that, or else his entire career as a left-wing Zionist critic of Israel is in jeopardy.

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