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Customer Review

171 of 208 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for people who care about Israel, March 27, 2012
This review is from: The Crisis of Zionism (Hardcover)
Two kinds of people will hate this book. The first is the political right which supports the occupation and believes it can be sustained forever.
The other is people who despise the very idea of Israel.
Peter Beinart is a Zionist. He opposes the occupation primarily (although not exclusively) because he believes it is destroying Israel. If there is one message that comes through in this book (I read a review copy)it is that Beinart wants the Israel he grew up on (one that he understands was far from perfect) to be there for his children.
He thinks that the continued occupation will ultimately either destroy Israel's soul or even its physical existence.
Those fears clearly drove him to write this book.
Reading it, I kept thinking of my father-in-law who survived the Holocaust and how much he worried that Israel's leaders would let it be destroyed.
He used to say, "These Jews from Poland and Russia figured out how to create a Jewish country from nothing. What did they know? But sitting in Warsaw and Lodz, they figured out how you create ministries and embassies and a whole government. They figured out how to build an army. But I'm afraid that their children aren't so smart. They take it for granted. They will lose it all unless they get smart."
That is what Beinart thinks too. An old Jewish soul in a young American man.
This book can change history. That is why it is creating such a ruckus. The noise you hear are the moans of those who are devoted to the status quo and worry that Beinart is challenging it.
It's a great book and a pleasure to read.
Not to sound too much like the late 1960's person I am, Beinart's plea reminds me of the quote Bobby Kennedy always invoked. I think it's Tennyson.

"Some people see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask "why not."

That is what Beinart is doing.

MJ Rosenberg
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Showing 1-10 of 80 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 27, 2012, 10:03:48 PM PDT
A beautifully-worded review!

Posted on Mar 27, 2012, 11:14:03 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 28, 2012, 2:56:46 PM PDT
Dean Jackson says:
"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct "Palestinian people" to oppose Zionism.

For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan." -- Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Zahir Muhsein, as reported in the Dutch newspaper Trouw (March 31, 1977).

It takes two to tango and two to create peace in the Middle East, but as we all know the Arab governments use the fake 'distinct Palestinian People' canard to attack Israel. It's called attack by proxy. Why do you think the 'Palestinians' were suddenly created in the early 1960s when Israel was acquiring the nuclear bomb?

It is people like you who will see the end of Israel, since you are ignorant of who the real antagonists are and what the real objectives of both sides are.

As for Israel's objectives, they are NOT giving away the West Bank and Gaza. Those territories are legal Israeli lands as affirmed in the San Remo Conference and the Mandate for Palestine; all territories west of the Jordan River are legally Israeli property.

What Israel needs is more Jewish emigration to Israel, where the new arrivals move into the territories (West Bank and Gaza), thereby overwhelming the hostile-educated Arabs living there. When this happens, Israel can then relax its oppressive measures in those territories.

It's time for Jews outside of Israel to put their love for Israel into concrete measures. As a Catholic, if Vatican City were threatened for its very existence, I would be among the first to join an expeditionary force to defend Vatican City.

Where are the Jews?

Posted on Mar 28, 2012, 6:03:21 AM PDT
Ira E. Stoll says:
It's not Tennyson it's George Bernard Shaw and it was first quoted not by RFK but by JFK, in his address before the Irish Parliament in Dublin (with attribution to Shaw), June 28, 1963.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 28, 2012, 4:18:54 PM PDT
R. Doherty says:
"The Palestinians do not exist" sounds like you took history lessons from that great and respected historian Newt Gingrich. Palestinians have been living in the land currently occupied by Israelis for more than 2,000 years. It makes it a lot easier to justify the illegal occupation of Palestine by denying these people their very ethnic and nationalistic identity.

Modern day Israel was created in 1948 by the forceful expulsion of nearly 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland. Zionist forces (mainly Jews from Europe) then razed Palestinians villages to the ground and gave these towns new names. This is commonly known as ethnic cleansing, and these policies continue to a large extent in the occupied West Bank.
"All properties west of the Jordan River are legally Israeli properties"- oh, really? Both the Geneva Convention and international law do not recognized lands forcibly annexed as a result of war. Not a single government in the world (except of course for the Israeli government) recognizes the legitimacy of Israel's occupation of the West Bank.

Israel has a right to exist and a right to its own national security, but through the brutal treatment of Palestinians under occupation and the colonization and misappropriation of Palestinian lands, Israel guarantees that its security situation remains tenuous at best.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 29, 2012, 8:23:48 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 30, 2012, 12:19:20 AM PDT
Dean Jackson says:
R. Doherty:

You confuse the name Palestine with 'distinct Palestinian People'! In fact, Arabs before and after World War I called themselves Syrian, since that was the name of the Ottoman province that included the territory called Palestine. There were no 'distinct Palestinian People' in existence until the early 1960s when the Arab League created them (did you read my review of Peter's book?).

In fact, the term 'Palestinian', as describing a 'distinct people', isn't even used as late as 1947 when the United Nations proposed (Partition of Palestine, UN Resolution 181, see link below) a state for the Jews and a state for the Arabs. There was no mention of a state for the Palestinians, and there would have to be if such a people existed! -- http://domino.un.org/unispal.nsf/0/7f0af2bd897689b785256c330061d253

The only 'Palestinians' to have existed since the creation of the Ottoman Empire where citizens of the League of Nations' 'Palestine Mandate' (1922-1948), which included Jews. That is, the term 'Palestinian' was a citizen of the Jewish Homeland, and had no ethnic affiliation whatsoever. When the name Palestine was changed to Israel in May 1948, the term 'Palestine' and 'Palestinian' became moot, but in the early 1960s Arab governments resurrected the term 'Palestinian'
to be used in their new strategy against Israel.

You might also want to take a look at the Palestine Mandate (see link below) for the Jewish Homeland. It includes the West Bank and Gaza (that is, all territory west of the Jordan River), as given to the Jews by the League of Nations. The Jews are not illegally occupying Arab lands, they in fact liberated Jewish lands in 1967, which is exactly what Arab governments wanted (again, see my review of Peter's book for more on the 'new' Arab governments' strategy Vis-a-Vis Israel). -- http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/palmanda.asp

As for the Arab refugee issue, you forget that a civil war took place in Palestine between November 1947 - May 1948. Arabs and Arab villages associated with hostile actions against Jews were expelled.

As for the rest of the world not recognizing the Israeli 'occupations', the rest of the world also has to import oil from Arab nations. Economic self-interest is the reason nations critique Israel for the mis-named occupations of the West Bank and Gaza.

When Jews from around the world emigrate to the West Bank and Gaza and overwhelm the hostile Arab populations there, making those Arabs a minority in those territories, then Israeli behavior towards those Arabs will improve. Until then, we will see more crimes committed against the Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza, which is EXACTLY what Arab governments want; that was their plan when they intentionally lost the West Bank and Gaza to Israel in the Six-Day War. Now you know why it was so easy for Israel to inexplicably win such a great victory against her Arab foes. It wasn't God's hand, it was Arab strategy!

Now, back in the 1920s the League of Nations did create two states for 'distinct ethnic peoples' living in the southwestern Levant: the Druze and the Alawites. Both nations (Jabal al Druze and The Alawite State) were absorbed by Syria in the 1930s.

The following from 1919 is the Palestinian Arab's admission that they are Syrian:

"The First Congress of Muslim-Christian Associations (in Jerusalem, February 1919), which met for the purpose of selecting a Palestinian Arab representative for the Paris Peace Conference, adopted the following resolution: "We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria, as it has never been separated from it at any time. We are connected with it by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic and geographical bonds."' -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_people

In other words, the so-called 'distinct Palestinian People' are simply Arabs, and the League of Nations created in the Levant six nations for the Arabs in the 1920s: Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Jabal al Druze and The Alawite State.

I guess you simply assumed that Arabs don't lie! Well, everyone lies (including Israelis), and it's my job to find the truth amongst all the propaganda out there on this issue.

Posted on Mar 30, 2012, 1:44:55 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 30, 2012, 1:52:21 PM PDT
Steve says:
MJ Rosenberg wrote: "Two kinds of people will hate this book. The first is the political right which supports the occupation and believes it can be sustained forever. The other is people who despise the very idea of Israel. Peter Beinart is a Zionist...." etc.

I bought the audio version of this book from Audible.com. I'm not sure I can say, I hate this book. I can say I believe Mssrs. Rosenberg and Beinart are terribly naive. The question is not whether the "occupation" can be sustained forever.

The question is, (#1) to whom does this land belong? (True Zionists believe Israel is the Jewish peoples' national home; not some of it but all of it.)

And (#2) less fundamental but no less important, what will happen within the territories (Judea and Samaria, the so-called West Bank) should Israel withdraw from them as she did from Gaza, August 2005?

Does Beinart answer these questions? Given that he invokes the prophets in our Bible early on in his book to make an incorrect point regarding the Jews' obligation to not oppress the "stranger," I wonder. I will answer that question (I hope) in the coming days as I delve further into his book.

Mr. Beinart and presumably Rosenberg here assume peoples dedicated to Israel's destruction are "strangers" and sojourners to which we are commanded (by God through Moses and the prophets) to extend kindness. Presumably had the Democracies extended sufficient kindness toward the Third Reich and the leadership in Germany, all would have been well. Some believe Neville Chamberlain did not offer enough.

Had Chamberlain been more forthcoming, the argument goes, there would have been no great war, costing some 50 million lives. There would have been no mass-genocide of the Jews. This is the kind of world in which men like Beinart and Rosenberg live.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2012, 2:16:15 PM PDT
Or, to put it another way...

"You confuse the name Israel with 'distinct Israeli People'! In fact, Jews in Palestine before and after World War I called themselves Zionists, since that was the name of the movement that called for Jewish autonomy in the British Mandate of Palestine. There was no 'distinct Israeli People' in existence until the late 1940s when the State of Isreal declared itself in existence.

In fact, the term 'Israeli, as describing a 'distinct people', isn't even used as late as 1947 when the United Nations proposed (Partition of Palestine, UN Resolution 181, see link below) a state for the Jews and a state for the Arabs. There was no mention of a state for the Israelis, and there would have to be if such a people existed! -- http://domino.un.org/unispal.nsf/0/7f0af2bd897689b785256c330061d253"

Anyone can play that game. Good luck on your 'truth' quest.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2012, 2:26:12 PM PDT
Steve says:
Amy, it does not matter what the Jews wish to call or what they called themselves. Today's Jews are the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The in-gathering of the Jews (the sons of Israel) back into our land is a central theme in the ancient prophets of our Bible. Zionism is simply the view that Israel is the Jewish people's (national) home. That is all. If the United Nations does not mention Israel as the homeland of the Jews, so be it. The precursor of the United Nations, the League of Nations, does state that Israel is the Jewish national home but even if the League did not state this, what difference does it make?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2012, 9:32:03 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 2, 2012, 2:43:09 AM PDT
Dean Jackson says:
To Amy Miller:

Israelis never claimed to be a distinct people!

The term Israeli is not an ethnic designation, it is a national designation. The so-called Palestinians claim to be a "distinct people", that is a "distinct ethnic group", such as the Druze or Alawites (whom in the 1920s the League of Nations created states for: Jabal al Druze and The Alawite State). The term "Palestinian" was only used to describe citizens of the Mandate for Palestine period (1922-1948), the Jewish Homeland. The term "Palestinian" became defunct when Palestine was renamed Israel, but "Palestinian" was resurrected in the early 1960s by Arab governments in order to fool ignorant observers that the "distinct Palestinians" had lost their lands! Why do you think in the 1920s the League of Nations never even contemplated creating a state for the "distinct Palestinian People"? Because they didn't exist! Are you beginning to get the point here?

Now, Jews did exist in 1947, as did Arabs, and those are precisely the groups the United Nations in 1947 declared should have their own states, not "Palestinians". The 1947 UN Resolution 181 could care less if the Jews changed the name of their state to Israel, or what else the Jews in Palestine called themselves (Zionists). The Resolution only cares about a "Jewish state" and an "Arab state". Your analogies are moot, because they don't represent the historical facts; this is not an issue where one can play by Oxford debating rules, where witticisms win the debate.

Did you read the quote where the Arab residents of Palestine in 1919 admit to what they are, "We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria, as it has never been separated from it at any time. We are connected with it by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic and geographical bonds." The Arabs living in Palestine in 1919 forever gave their hand away when they admitted they were Syrian Arab. They are counting on ignorant people to forget that they ever admitted they are Syrian Arab!

Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Zahir Muhsein made the same admission (as you read Zahir's admission, remember today's Jordan was the southeastern part of Ottoman Syria in 1919):

"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct "Palestinian people" to oppose Zionism.

For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan." -- Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Zahir Muhsein, as reported in the Dutch newspaper Trouw (March 31, 1977).

The 'new' claim from Arab governments that those Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza are a "distinct people" suddenly cropped up in the early 1960s, the same time that Israel had either acquired a nuclear bomb or was on the way to building one.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2012, 9:48:00 PM PDT
Dean Jackson says:
Steve,

the League of Nations affirms the territory of Palestine as the Jewish Homeland (which includes the West Bank and Gaza. see below), it doesn't say that the Jews can't change the name of the Jewish nation once it is independent!

The Palestine Mandate

ART. 25.

In the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of this mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions, and to make such provision for the administration of the territories as he may consider suitable to those conditions, provided that no action shall be taken which is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 15, 16 and 18. -- http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/palmanda.asp
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