Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Peter Beinart has joined the chorus of hysterical voices slamming Michael Oren for his recent interviews and book.

Beinart says that it is Oren, not President Obama, who is naive.

Let's fact-check Beinart:
Let’s start with a few quotes from Oren’s recent media blitz. In a recent interview at New York’s 92nd Street Y, Oren declared that American Jews must oppose an Iran deal that “everybody in the Knesset agrees is emphatically bad.”

Everybody? Thirteen of the Knesset’s 120 seats are held by Palestinian citizens of Israel (often called “Arab Israelis” by American and Israeli Jews). Earlier this year, they were elected on a platform calling “for nuclear disarmament in the Middle East, including Israel.”

These Palestinian Knesset members, in other words, don’t think Obama’s nuclear diplomacy is too soft on Iran. They think it’s too soft on Israel, whose hundreds of nuclear weapons they consider as grave a threat to regional peace as Iran’s nuclear program. With a single phrase, Oren makes them disappear.
If the 13 Arab Knesset members are against nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, how does Beinart conclude that they support a deal which from all indications will give Iran a path to nuclear weapons?

I don't know if Oren's statement is 100% true, but Beinart has no proof for his dismissal of it, and his supposed proof is knowingly deceptive since it doesn't prove anything one way or the other.

Let’s take another example. In an interview with the Jewish Journal’s Shmuel Rosner, Oren recently called Israel “one of the few democracies in the world that have never known a second of non-democratic governance.” This statement makes sense only if Palestinians didn't exist. If they do, then Israel’s Palestinian citizens lived under military law until 1966. And to this day, millions of West Bank Palestinians live under Israeli control but lack citizenship and the right to vote for the government that dominates their existence. In other words, they’ve been living under “non-democratic governance” every second of their lives.
It is true that Arabs in Israel were under military rule until 1966. It is also true that they could vote. So while there was discrimination, it was still democracy.

No state in the world allows non-citizens to vote. If Israel is not a democracy, then neither is the US, where millions of actual citizens cannot vote.

Oren is correct, Beinart is wrong.

But these factual errors only hint at Oren’s true detachment. His deepest naivete stems from his assumption that Israel can maintain the status quo indefinitely because Palestinians will submit indefinitely to their lack of basic rights.
Beinart does not give a source for this statement. Certainly nothing in Oren's book even hinted at this. Beinart is wrong.

Oren rests this contention on two assumptions. The first is that Palestinians don’t have it so bad. In the West Bank, he wrote in February, “More than 90% of the Palestinian population enjoys de facto sovereignty. Israeli soldiers don’t patrol the major Palestinian cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, Jericho and Bethlehem, and are largely absent from other towns.”

De facto sovereignty? West Bank Palestinians live as permanent non-citizens under military law. The government of Israel – a government for which they cannot vote – controls the air space above them, the borders around them and the natural resources below. They are crammed into an archipelago of cities and towns, which cannot expand because Israel controls virtually all the land in between, land it doles out to settlers who, unlike Palestinians, enjoy full citizenship rights.
What makes sovereignty? There are different definitions. Wikipedia lists four:
  • domestic sovereignty – actual control over a state exercised by an authority organized within this state,[6]
  • interdependence sovereignty – actual control of movement across state's borders, assuming the borders exist,[6]
  • international legal sovereignty – formal recognition by other sovereign states,[6]
  • Westphalian sovereignty – lack of other authority over state than the domestic authority (examples of such other authorities could be a non-domestic church, a non-domestic political organization, or any other external agent).[6]
The PA fits under three of these definitions. Hamas has three as well, although a different set. Beinart's assertions that control of airspace, for example, is a prerequisite to sovereignty is fiction.

Oren is right, Beinart is wrong.

The second assumption is that Palestinians will submit because if they don’t, Israel will respond with overwhelming force.
Beinart again does not give a quote where Oren says this, and again Oren says no such thing in his book or interviews. Beinart is making it up.

For Netanyahu and Oren, this is what passes for realism: Pretend that Palestinians will be happy living under occupation, and bludgeon into submission those who aren’t. It’s the same kind of “realism” that people throughout history have used to justify denying others basic rights. And it rests on the contention that the oppressed will accept forms of servitude that we never would, either because their aspirations are lower or because their spirits can be more easily crushed.
Again, fiction. However, it is notable that Mahmoud Abbas has said explicitly that Palestinians don't have such bad lives:

" I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements," he said. "Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life."
Beinart claims that Oren is naive, but it si Beinart who is proven in this article alone not only to be naive but knowingly deceptive and even a liar.



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