Friday, August 26, 2022

I have noted before that Peter Beinart is a master propagandist. He carefully frames his arguments in ways that sound reasonable unless you understand the facts as well as his methodology.

Today he writes in the New York Times that those who accuse Israel bashers of antisemitism are wrong.

Let's look at his arguments:

Over the past 18 months, America’s most prominent Jewish organizations have done something extraordinary. They have accused the world’s leading human rights organizations of promoting hatred of Jews.

Last April, after Human Rights Watch issued a report accusing Israel of “the crimes of apartheid and persecution,” the American Jewish Committee claimed that the report’s arguments “sometimes border on antisemitism.” In January, after Amnesty International issued its own study alleging that Israel practiced apartheid, the Anti-Defamation League predicted that it “likely will lead to intensified antisemitism.” The A.J.C. and A.D.L. also published a statement with four other well-known American Jewish groups that didn’t just accuse the report of being biased and inaccurate, but also claimed that Amnesty’s report “fuels those antisemites around the world who seek to undermine the only Jewish country on Earth.”
These examples are all accurate. It is almost absurd to argue that one-sided, lying accusations against Israel do not stoke antisemitism. But Beinart tries:

Defenders of repressive governments often try to discredit the human rights groups that criticize them. A month before the A.J.C. accused Human Rights Watch of flirting with antisemitism, the Chinese Communist Party newspaper Global Times accused it of being “anti-China.” In 2019 a spokesman for Iran accused Amnesty of being “biased” against that country. In this age of rising authoritarianism, it’s not surprising that human rights watchdogs face mounting attacks. What’s surprising is that America’s most influential Jewish groups are taking part.  
The fact that bad people sometimes do the same things as good people doesn't make good people bad. Beinart doesn't say this explicitly, of course, but he is trying to make the reader equate China's defenders with Israel's, which is unconscionable.

Although supportive of Israel’s existence, America’s leading Jewish groups did not make it the center of their work in the mid-20th century. And when they did focus on Israel, they often tried to bring its behavior in line with their broader liberal democratic goals. The A.J.C. repeatedly criticized Israel for discriminating against its Palestinian Arab citizens. In 1960 the head of the group’s Israel Committee explained that it hoped to eliminate “antidemocratic practices and attitudes” in the Jewish state so the organization could more credibly “invoke principles of human rights and practices in our country and abroad.”  
This is deceptive on a number of levels.

The AJC had a history of being non-Zionist - sympathetic to Zionism but not explicitly supportive. Other American Jewish organizations, like the American Jewish Congress and the Zionist Organization of America, were more supportive.

By 1960, the AJC realized that the American Jewish community wanted a more Zionist message from them. They therefore decided to open up an office in Israel, but - as Beinart's link shows! - there was still an undercurrent of resentment at Israel starting to take center stage in world Jewry. The entire quote, which Beinart knows most people won't look up, says:


This was not a mainstream American Jewish attitude, as Beinart pretends. American Jews were heavily Zionist in this timeframe - after all, this was the time of Leon Uris' and Paul Newman's book and movie Exodus. He is lying, knowing the NYT won't call him on it.

This began to change after the 1967 war. Israel’s conquest of the West Bank and Gaza Strip made it master over roughly a million stateless Palestinians, which fueled anger at the Jewish state from leftists in the United States and around the world. At the same time, assimilation was leading many progressive American Jews to exit organized Jewish life, which left Jewish groups with a more conservative base as they searched for a new agenda now that civil rights for Black Americans had become law.

The result was an ideological transformation. In 1974, two A.D.L. leaders wrote a book arguing that Jews were increasingly menaced by a “new antisemitism,” directed not against individual Jews but against the Jewish state. Almost a half-century later, that premise now dominates mainstream organized American Jewish life.
The term "new antisemitism" started in the 1960s, before the Six Day War, as Soviet antisemitism that hid as anti-Zionism became mainstream. The book Beinart references also talks about Arab antisemitism, which is undeniable - and therefore ignored by Leftists like Beinart. In other words, the new antisemitism is quite real and well documented, and not a made-up concept from conservative Jewish Americans like Beinart implies. 

But NYT readers would believe Beinart's alternate history.

Largely as a result of lobbying by Jewish organizations, the American government has embraced the proposition, too. The State Department now employs a definition of antisemitism whose examples include opposing Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. This year the Senate confirmed Deborah Lipstadt — a historian best known for fighting Holocaust denial — to be the Biden administration’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism. Ms. Lipstadt has said that Israel’s “continued holding of the West Bank is problematic,” but when asked at her confirmation hearing about Amnesty’s report accusing Israel of apartheid, Ms. Lipstadt claimed that the report’s language was “part of a larger effort to delegitimize the Jewish state” and thus “poisons the atmosphere, particularly for Jewish students” on college campuses. In 2018 several Palestinian members of the Knesset tried to introduce legislation that would grant Palestinians equal citizenship rather than what the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem calls “Jewish supremacy.” According to America’s most prominent Jewish organizations and the U.S. government, this kind of call for equal citizenship constituted bigotry.  
No. Saying that the Jewish people have no right to self determination is bigotry. Saying that the Jewish state has no right to exist is bigotry.  No one says that Arab Israelis (not "Palestinians") demanding equal rights is bigotry. That is more Beinart doubletalk.

Now that any challenge to Jewish statehood is met with charges of bigotry against Jews, prominent American Jewish organizations and their allies in the U.S. government have made the fight against antisemitism into a vehicle not for defending human rights but for denying them. Most Palestinians exist as second-class citizens in Israel proper or as stateless noncitizens in the territories Israel occupied in 1967 or live beyond Israel’s borders because they or their descendants were expelled or fled and were not permitted to return.
Israeli Arab citizens are not second class citizens, although discrimination still exists like it does everywhere else. And Palestinian non-citizens are not...citizens. They can make peace with Israel tomorrow and create their own state. The only reason they haven't is because they do not accept the Jewish state's very existence - which is, indeed, antisemitism.

And make no mistake - the unanimous support for Mahmoud Abbas' Holocaust trivialization this past week shows that Palestinian anti-Zionism is just a cover for old fashioned Jew-hate. Which is another topic Beinart doesn't want his readers to know about.

But the campaign against antisemitism is being deployed to justify not merely the violation of Palestinian human rights. As relations have warmed between Israel and the monarchies of the Persian Gulf, American officials have begun using the struggle against antisemitism to shield those regimes from human rights pressure, too. In June, Ms. Lipstadt met the Saudi ambassador in Washington and celebrated “our shared objectives of overcoming intolerance and hate.” From there she flew to Saudi Arabia, where she met its minister of Islamic affairs and affirmed, once again, “our shared goals of promoting tolerance and combating hate.” In the United Arab Emirates she sat down with the country’s foreign minister, whom she declared a “sincere partner in our shared goals of” — you guessed it — “promoting tolerance and fighting hate.”

This is nonsense. According to a report this year by Freedom House, a human rights think tank funded largely by the U.S. government, Saudi Arabia is more repressive than Iran. The United Arab Emirates is more repressive than Russia. And although Ms. Lipstadt declared that her visits to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi left her “heartened by changes underway in parts of the Middle East,” both countries, according to Freedom House, are more oppressive than they were in 2017. Less than two months after she lauded the Saudi monarchy’s tolerance, it sentenced a member of the country’s persecuted Shiite minority to 34 years in prison for Twitter activity critical of the government.

When it comes to their own disenfranchised populations, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. are as intolerant as ever. 
Again, Beinart is hiding the truth. No one is supporting Saudi or Emirati human rights violations, and to claim that Zionists do is nothing short of slander. His main lie is that last sentence - that they are as intolerant as ever. 

The fact that there is a rabbi in Saudi Arabia and synagogues in the UAE prove that the truth is the opposite. Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE, for all their many faults - and not to minimize those faults - have changed course dramatically in recent years as far as tolerance goes.

And Israel is accelerating their slow march towards a more Western-oriented position, where human rights is a factor in their decision making.

Are they free societies? Not at all. But to disparage their positive changes is not a pro-human rights position. 

Beinart's premise is wrong, his examples are cherry-picked and deceptive, and his framing and methodology is nothing less than that of the best antisemitic propagandists in history.


Buy the EoZ book, PROTOCOLS: Exposing Modern Antisemitism  today at Amazon!

Or order from your favorite bookseller, using ISBN 9798985708424. 

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