17 April 2012

This is our dog, Peter Beinart!

There is that old classic joke that goes (approximately) like this:

A man strolling along a park alley sees another man sitting peacefully on a bench with a nice cuddly dog sprawling on the grass nearby. "Does your dog bite?" the strolling man asks the sitting one. "Nope, sir, my dog doesn't bite" is the answer. The man bends down to pet the doggy and, of course, the latter promptly sinks its teeth in the man's hand. "Why did you lie, you ...!" shouts the injured man to the occupier of the bench. "But this is not my dog, sir!" answers the bench sitter indignantly.

That good old joke came to my mind while reading a widely discussed article To Save Israel, Boycott the Settlements by Peter Beinart, the man who from a relative obscurity of a staunch Israeli supporter rocketed to a lofty position of... but later about it, let's go back to the article.

The article, unlike the usual blunt demand for dismantling the Zionist entity in favor of one-state solution by the usual anti-Zionist crowd, is full of nuances. It drives several wedges: the first one (no doubt to soften the rest of the article) splits the ostensibly pro-Israeli Peter Beinart from the BDS gang with its call for boycotting Israel and its products as a whole and with its call for right of return for all Palestinian refugees and whatnot.

The next wedge is being driven between us, the good Israelis, residing behind the Green Line and the others - the settlers:

Every time an American newspaper calls Israel a democracy, we should urge it to include the caveat: only within the green line.
Good Jooz, bad Jooz - does it sound familiar? And of course, American Jooz (are all of them considered equally good by Peter, I wonder?) should heed the distinction and boycott the bad ones.

But there is another wedge, where it gets even more nuanced: you see, there are some relatively good Jooz even among the generally bad settlers. It is defined by... the geographic proximity of the settlement to the Green Line:
If moderate settlers living near the green line resent being lumped in with their more ideologically driven counterparts deep in occupied territory, they should agitate for a two-state solution that would make possible their incorporation into democratic Israel.
Could we, possibly, have a map colored by prof Beinart according to the geographical badness (moderation?) of said settlers?

As an aside, I imagine a map of USA colored by the same principle, meaning by geographic proximity of the European settlements to the East Coast, where it all started. By this principle Peter Beinart, being located in NYC, resides in a relatively benign area, while the most progressive freedom-loving folks of California are the worst offenders. I can imagine the echo in the hallowed halls of Berkeley and similar places...

As I already said, a finely nuanced piece that. And being finely nuanced, prof Beinart leaves his mandatory "AssaJew" statement slip to the end of the article, unlike his less nuanced, really anti-Zionists brethren who usually start their diatribes with it:
More fundamentally, I am a committed Jew. I belong to an Orthodox synagogue, send my children...
... etc.

Oh well, but let's go back to the beginning. I have started with that dog, remember? The main problem with Peter Beinart's article and the finely nuanced wedges he is trying to drive in is that, leaving aside the matter of righteousness or evilness of the settlements, not one of us (Israelis), no matter how left- or right-leaning, can say "it is not my dog". Since 1967, consecutive Israeli governments sent the settlers out - be it for ideological or for financial reasons. The settlers, one and all, are part of us and, save that evil "ideologically driven" look in their eyes, practically indistinguishable from the rest of us. For better or worse, we have to deal with them in our own way, as the democratic institutions of this nation (located behind the Green Line) allow. Boycott them or boycott us - same difference, if you know what I mean.

And all attempts to present the settlers as somebody else's dog, while ingenious(*), are just an exercise in futility. I much prefer the straight no-nonsense hate of the BDS supporters - at least they have removed all the fig leaves lately.

Peter Beinart now: the phenomenon of gaining notoriety, popularity, fame if you will, through transforming self from a regular run-of-the-mill pro-Israeli American Jew to a critic of the said country and its (granted, somewhat defective) management, is not exactly new. With some inventiveness, imagination and lots of energy, such endeavor can indeed bring a lot of the above mentioned perks. I don't want to badmouth - after all, prof Beinart may be totally sincere in his stance. But the other examples are too fresh in mind to dismiss. And that "AssaJew" part...

(*) About driving all these finely honed wedges: it may be good for gaining more of sympathetic audience from the usual anti-Zionist crowd. Doesn't hardly work here.


Noga said...

Beinart has pre-empted another possible line of attack on his fantasies by resurrecting from her grave one Sephardic grandmother. So if anyone came to him and claimed (as I almost did) that many of those "bad Jews" are actually poor and disenfranchised Miztahim whom he targets for punishment, and that his arrogance reminds one of Arendt's "exceptional Jew" syndrome, he would be able to hold up her ghost like a priest would hold up a wooden cross against a particularly blood-thirsty vampire. You have to admire the way he covered his ass protectively from the usual roster of complaints.

About the "exceptional Jew", here: http://contentious-centrist.blogspot.ca/2011/07/irony-of-arendt-via-bob-i-arrived-at.html


BTW, Snoopy, brilliant analysis and an inspired analogy in the joke. Those differently coloured maps idea - genius!

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Oh, so he thinks about everything. No one said he is stupid, and that's a fact.

As for compliments - many thanks, Noga.

yitzgood said...

I don't think the Palestinians will ever make peace long enough to do what Egypt is about to do to its peace treaty. Conditions for the 2-state solution are not exactly getting more favorable.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I am afraid I have to agree, Yitzchak.

Rob said...

Yasser Koach, Haboom!

SnoopyTheGoon said...