Monday, March 26, 2012

Peter Beinart's Crisis of Zionism: A Book With A Crisis Of Inaccuracy

I am not that interested in debating Peter's new book ["Crisis of Zionism"], which I've just finished reading, because I find his recounting of recent Middle East history one-sided and filled with errors and omissions
Jeffrey Goldberg, J Street Big Takes a Serious Shot at Peter Beinart's Call for Boycott, March 19, 2012

In Peter Beinart’s False Prophecy, Bret Stephens describes Beinart's book--which claims the Israeli occupation alienates young American Jews--"is sloppy with facts and emotionally contrived. To illustrate his claim of what is either sloppiness excessive liberty in interpretation, Stephens offers some examples of errors:

  • Elasticity of attribution:

    Describing the effects of Israel’s policy toward Gaza after Hamas’s election in 2006, Beinart writes that “the blockade shattered [Gaza’s] economy. By 2008, 90 percent of Gaza’s industrial complex had closed.” The source of this claim is a study conducted by the IMF—in 2003.

  • Of omission:

    Beinart quotes former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami telling Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman that “If I were a Palestinian, I would have rejected Camp David as well.” Yet Ben-Ami said in the same interview that Yasser Arafat “was morally, psychologically, physically incapable of accepting the moral legitimacy of a Jewish state, regardless of its borders or whatever.” This goes unquoted. I suspect that’s because Beinart found it in The Israel Lobby [5] by political scientists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, which also quotes the first part of Ben-Ami’s statement but not the second.

  • Of consistency:

    Beinart acknowledges that “the populism sweeping the Middle East has unleashed frightening hostility against the Jewish state.” Yet in the same paragraph he writes: “The Egyptian leaders who have emerged in Hosni Mubarak’s wake are not calling for Israel’s destruction, let alone promising to take up arms in the cause.” Maybe Beinart should acquaint himself with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Essam El-Eryah, currently head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Egyptian Parliament. “The earthquake of the Arab Spring will mark the end of the Zionist entity,” El-Eryah said recently.

  • Of fact:

    Returning to the subject of Gaza, Beinart writes that the Strip “remains a place of brutal suffering.” This, he adds, is the case even after Israel eased its blockade following the Turkish flotilla business in 2010.

    Really? Here’s what New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof (whose politics track Beinart’s, but who also visits the places he writes about) had to say on that score in a July 2010 column: “Visiting Gaza persuaded me, to my surprise, that Israel is correct when it denies that there is any full-fledged humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The tunnels have so undermined the Israeli blockade that shops are filled and daily life is considerably easier than when I last visited here two years.”
There’s more of this. Much more. In fact, the errors in Beinart’s book pile up at such a rate that they become almost impossible to track.
This follows Rick Richman's The Crisis of Peter Beinart, where he illustrates how Beinart twisted a quote by Jabotinsky 180 degrees from its actually meaning, in an effort to smear both Jabotinsky and Netanyahu.

As Richman points out in allusion to a list assembled by Challah Hu Akbar, an extraordinary array of more than 20 prominent bloggers — left, right, and center — have dissected a Peter Beinart op-ed based on his book.

As Stephens admits, a book about the crisis of Zionism really does need to be written.

The problem is that no one has written it yet.

Technorati Tag: and and and .
Post a Comment