Thursday, August 7, 2014

Shapiro versus Beinart

Michael L.

I am not familiar with Ben Shapiro and his magazine, Truth Revolt, is associated with David Horowitz's Front Page Magazine and therefore I can safely say that he represents criticism from a Jewish right-wing conservative perspective.

Beinart we are, of course, familiar with from his time with Marty Peretz at the New Republic and his relatively recent incarnation as a progressive-left Zionist.  People tend to forget that Beinart's views were not quite so "progressive" when he supported the Iraq war in 2003 under the Bush II administration.

In any case, it is an interesting exchange that turns sharp toward the end.

I think that you should give it a listen and endeavor to be fair to both gentlemen, even if they are less than fair with one another.

And, in the interest of fairness, it should be noted that Shapiro did, in fact, call for the ethnic cleansing of Arabs from all of Israel in a 2003 piece entitled, Transfer is not a dirty word.


  1. I have one quibble with Ben Shapiro's case. Towards the end, Beinart argued for politically addressing the Palestinian people's grievances in order to marginalize Hamas. Shapiro dismissed this saying that the issues that Beinart brings up in that point are not Hamas' grievances. To analogize, that is like making an argument in 2006 that taking up the cause of the Sons of Iraq is pointless because their issues are not AQI's grievances.

    So Beinart is right in arguing that providing the people an alternative to Hamas through political channels would marginalize Hamas and thereby degrade their ability to act on their grievances, even though they would continue to be aggrieved that Jews are still not subjected to the Pact of Umar. Where Beinart errs is in asserting that Fatah's grievances are limited to the grievances they enumerate in English for western audiences. There are some clear improvements in having Fatah in control rather than Hamas, such as occasional security cooperation and Fatah being less prone, though not totally non-prone, to launching rockets. However, this should not be confused for the notion that having Fatah in charge of the Palestinians would be the equivalent for Israel to having the Sons of Iraq being in charge of Iraq.

    1. Political channels?

      This sounds exceedingly vague. This is not to say that there might not be other means necessary than military in order to eliminate the organization, however. I simply do not know what those political channels would be.

      As for Beinart, I am not a big fan. He spent considerable time talking about how the blockade of Gaza ultimately serves Hamas' interests and how Israel needs to engage with peaceful Arab dissenting activists in Judea and Samaria.

      The blockade is necessary for the obvious reason that Israel cannot allow a genocidal organization like Hamas to gain free access to military materiel. If he doesn't understand that than he has a tremendous ideological blindspot.

      And per these peaceful Arab dissenters, just who the hell is he talking about? There may be such people, but do they have the slightest influence within the local Arab culture?

      I tend to doubt it. There is nothing wrong with cultivating such voices, but if Beinart thinks that they have any current political relevance then he is deluding himself.

    2. Political channels essentially means providing an alternative for the population the way the Sons of Iraq provided an alternative to AQI for the people of Anbar Province.

      For Beinart, the alternative is almost always Fatah. I would concede that Fatah controlling Gaza would be an improvement, but Beinart overstates the case of Fatah's willingness to live in long-term peace with Israel. That is important to keep in mind in evaluating what is a worthwhile cost (as in concessions in Judea and Samaria) for bringing that about.

      As for the lack of genuine partners with current political relevance, that is correct. It is also correct to say that changing that condition is the only true long term solution with everything else being just chronic management. The correct response is to call for supplementing the chronic management, such as through the blockade, with cultivating genuine partners, not calling for political engagement in place of the chronic management.

  2. Israel and other pro-Palestinians should assist a new breed of Palestinian Arab leaders to come forth, those who offer the people a better life by using Israel as a positive force. A peaceful state could have no better neighbor than Israel.

    1. For example:

      92 percent of Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip are in favor a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and 72% hope their leaders will work to achieve a lasting peace agreement with the Jewish state, a new poll has found.