Beinart's wrong on Palestinian incitement


It didn’t take even a week to be refuted.

On Jan. 15, noted Israel critic Peter Beinart declared that Palestinians who hate Israel never claim that they were inspired by anti-Israel incitement.

Just six days later, on Jan. 21, a Palestinian who stabbed twelve Israelis on a Tel Aviv bus said he was inspired by “radical Islamic broadcasts.”

Beinart is a CNN commentator, a columnist for Ha’aretz, and a fellow at a liberal think think, the New America Foundation. He made a splash in 2012 in the Jewish world with his book The Crisis of Zionism, in which he called for a boycott of Israelis who reside in areas beyond the pre-1967 armistice line.

Appearing on the “Voice of Israel” radio show on Jan. 15, Beinart attempted to explain Palestinians hatred of Israel and Jews. Here’s what he said:

“I know a lot of Palestinians who hate Israel, in fact I would say almost all the Palestinians I know hate Israel, but when I ask them why they hate Israel, and I’ve talked many, many, many times with people about this, they don’t mention textbooks, or movies, or names of streets that have terrorists on them... But what they tell me, what I hear about, again and again and again, is the personal trauma and suffering that they and people they love have experienced.”

Hamza Matrouk, the 23-year-old Palestinian who stabbed and slashed a dozen Israeli bus passengers in Tel Aviv, told the police that he was motivated in part by “radical Islamic broadcasts that spoke of ‘reaching paradise’. ‘He said he decided to achieve that by carrying out an attack,’ a police spokesman said. 

A friend of Matrouk’s told the Palestinian news service Maan that the night before the attack, “Hamza and I hung out with friends in the camp until 11 p.m. and we had fun. He was laughing and kidding.” Strange--no hint of all the “trauma” and “suffering” that Peter Beinart thinks is what motivates Palestinian haters and terrorists.

Beinart made several other outrageous assertions in the radio interview.

For example, he said the cause of Palestinian opposition to Israel is that “for almost fifty years, millions and millions of people have lived under the authority of a state in which they lack citizenship, the right to vote, the right to live in the same legal system as their neighbors and the right to free movement.”

Beinart seems to have forgotten that Yitzhak Rabin ended the occupation of those “millions and millions” of people twenty years ago. In 1995, Rabin withdrew from the cities where more than 95% of the Palestinians reside. And Ariel Sharon withdrew from all of Gaza in 2005. Every thing that Beinart attributes to the imaginary “Israeli occupation” is, in fact, attributable to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. It is the PA which has refused to have an election since 2004, which determines their movement, and which created and administers its own legal system.

In another whopper, Beinart tried to prove that Palestinians have just as much reason as Israelis to be afraid: “We’re not the only ones who live in fear. Palestinians also live in fear—after all, many, many more of them, and many more of their children, die than Jewish children die... look at the number of Jewish versus Palestinian children who have died since the beginning of the First Intifada!”

This is what one might call Body Count Morality: more Palestinians have died, so they must be the victims and Israel must be the aggressors. By that logic, Germany, with more than seven million military and civilian casualties in World War II, must have been the victims, and America, with its 405,000 casualties, must have been the aggressor. For that matter, Beinart should be denouncing President Barack Obama right now as an aggressor, since ISIS has suffered many more casualties than the American pilots who have been bombing ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq.

Beinart’s comments about the “occupation” and the casualty figures are absurd enough. But it is his statement about the role of Palestinian incitement that deserves immediate attention, because it has been discredited so quickly and so thoroughly.

We know it is difficult for a person of strong convictions to publicly admit a mistake and apologize. And Peter Beinart certainly has very strong convictions. But to retain any shred of credibility as a serious political commentator, he needs to come clean now. The Tel Aviv stabber has slashed to pieces Beinart’s attempt to minimize the role of Palestinian incitement. Beinart should apologize.

The authors are president and chairman, respectively, of the Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia, and candidates on the Religious Zionist slate ( in the current U.S. World Zionist Congress elections.


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