I thought no state had the right to exist?


Beinart, you must think your audience are a bunch of idiots. But as Norman Finkelstein said, you're only clever in your cult. You can dress up your desire to destroy Israel in whatever clothing you like, but the rest of us can see right through it. This claim that *Israel* has a right to exist but its *political system* doesn't is total nonsense. And yes, it is unfair and it is anti-Semitic.

When the US criticizes other countries, we criticize their *policies.* We don't like that China mistreats Uighurs and we don't like that Xi is a dictator. But we don't say "China is an inherently oppressive country because not everyone who lives there is Chinese. China must change its name and inherent nature to be a state for all its citizens." And you know why we don't say that? Because countries have the right to national characters. When the Irish were agitating for independence, the British didn't accuse them of racism and discriminating against non-Irish people. The idea is absurd.

One more example: I have never seen the US or the UN or anyone else criticize any Arab state (including Palestine) simply for being an Arab state and discriminating against non-Arabs.

In fact Beinart recognizes in this column that only some Palestinians consider Palestine to be encompassing everyone who lives there. Those of us who read Palestine's constitution know this to be false. Yet Beinart seems to think contrary to all evidence that if the Palestinians are given the vote, the result will not be a sharia controlled fascist dictatorship that identifies as a Muslim and Arab state explicitly, and therefore a racist one by his own logic, like Palestine is now. It is a good thing therefore that Beinart is not taken seriously by anyone.

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The absurdity of some of these comments is truly stupefying. Is wanting to abolish segregation on the South equivalent to destroying it or wanting it to cease to exist? The two-state solution, Israel’s version of “separate but equal” offers neither separateness nor equality, let alone sovereignty, to the Palestinians, and merely implements formally, in perpetuity, some of the very same systems of oppression that the Jews have struggled under throughout their history. What has Peter done other than to confront this fact with the utmost honesty and courage, and search his conscience for a better way forward while staying true to his principles and faith? The Palestinians and Israelis may seem very different and incompatible at the moment, but as Peter has eloquently and extensively written about in the past, a justice and human rights-based approach can completely transform their attitudes towards each other. Before too long they would hopefully come to realise what many of us who know both communities well already know: That they have so much in common and ultimately have nothing to fear.

Keep up the great work Peter!

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Shwach that’s the Yiddish word for weak. But unlike weak Shwach has an edge. To say Israel has the right to exist as Israel-Filastin or Filastin-Israel by coin toss is just another way to say Israel will disappear.

You are proposing to reward the Palestinians for refusing every compromise solution in the last 100 years. And in effect condemning the Jews to again become a minority, knowing full well how Jewish minorities have suffered over millennia, and this time in what was once their state. And your reasoning? Israel is primarily concerned with the welfare of Jews and not of the Arabs.

The Arabs of course could have had and still can have their own state, but they have rejected that opportunity as well, because they are holding out for the day when more people will have your attitude. And their dream of “Palestine from the river to the sea” will be delivered.

The Jews who have been kicked around for 2,000 years and have somehow clawed their way to statehood should openly give it up to a people who have fought them tooth and nail and just trust in Palestinian loving kindness. Out of curiosity where have you observed loving kindness between Palestinians? How about between Palestinians and other Arab peoples?

There have been no elections in the West Bank or Gaza for many years and everybody without exception knows why. It's not so much that the Palestinian leadership in place is worried of losing; oh, they know they would lose. Its who they will lose to that worries everyone—it’s Hamas—an anti-Semitic theocratic party, whose charter and idea of Jews is similar to what Americans thought of native Americans—“The only good Indian is a dead Indian”.

And you believe that a joint dance between Israelis and Palestinians will melt away all the hatreds that have been there unabated for almost 2 centuries now (leaving out Moslem antipathy towards Jews from the time of its creation).

All of this is good stuff will somehow happen irrespective of the fact that there is currently not a single Arab state that is close to implementing Democracy in other than name.

As for Israel’s undisputed creativity, vibrancy, culture and contributions to the world? Eh, that is not nearly as important as creating yet another Arab state.

So it all comes down to since the Israelis and Palestinians could not agree on a Palestinian state side-by-side let’s just give in and eliminate Israel—except in name. Although to be sure in time that will be removed as well. As Jews will exit from yet another country, they have become a minority.

For those who want anther well-reasoned answer https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/among-the-antisemites-a-response-to-peter-beinart/

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Sorry, but your answer is just convincing. Forcing Austria to merge with Germany or Ukraine to merge with Russia, means the end of Ukraine and Austria as sovereign states. States are the embodiment of a peoples’ self-determination. If both sides accept to merge, so be it. Otherwise, you just deprive a people of its independence (the downfall of the USSR did not deprive Russians of their independence).

According to international law, Israelis are entitled to a state of their own within the 1967 borders. In 2004, the ICJ called for a Palestinian state alongside Israel. It did not call for one state.

Arguing that creating two states is no longer possible, it is baseless. Why can’t Jewish settlers live in a Palestinian state? Around 200,000 French settlers remained in Algeria in the first years following independence (most of them were gone by 1970). A 4% land swap would leave less than 100,000 Jews within a future Palestinian state, and most of them would leave on their own according to opinion polls.

Claiming that a Jewish nation-state is incompatible with liberal democracy is another spurious claim. It reminds me of the European far-right arguing that Islam is incompatible with democracy (the far left has the same problem with Jews that the far right has with Muslims - the far right says that Islam is incompatible with liberal democracy while the far left says the same about Judaism).

Nothing prevents Israel from being both the state of the Jewish people and that of all its citizens, the same way as one can love both of his parents. Like many critics of Israel (that was already true before you became an anti-Zionist), you fail to understand that international law requires states to give equal individual (political and civil) rights to all its citizens. It does not require states to give them equal group rights. Thus, a state has no obligation to be culturally neutral or to have a neutral immigration policy. Sure, Israel does not even uphold the individual rights of its Arab-Palestinian minority (only 50% of Arab of citizens of Israel identify as Palestinians, the others identify as Arab Israelis), but Israel is a country at war with a minority that belongs to the same ethnic group as the enemy. I dare you to name me any other country that did better under similar circumstances. Palestinian-Arab Israelis have more collective rights than Russian-speaking minorities of Baltic countries (who do not even have automatic access to citizenship), or the Turkish minority of Greece that does not even have the right to identify as Turkish or to choose its own communal leaders.

Finally, the elephant in the room: the occupied territories. The occupation is of course obnoxious but it is now clear that the Palestinians said no to the Clinton parameters in 2001, Olmert’s offer in 2008, and the Kerry-Obama principles in 2014. The revisionist narrative you subscribe to (I subscribed to it too) collapsed when Haaretz revealed in 2017 that Abbas said no to Kerry and Obama.

Hussein Agha and Akram Haniya have both said that Clinton’s framework would not suffice to solve the refugee issue.

Calling for dismantling Israel is not only unfair and illegal, it is first and foremost meaningless, as the Palestinians can achieve most of their demands (including the right of return) in a confederal framework. Nothing prevents a confederation from having its own army and its own foreign policy. It then has all the trappings of a federal state without depriving the member states of their independence. That would create a de facto reality of two states in a shared country.

Now my question for you, Mr. Beinart, is the following: why do insist on depriving Jews of their independence, when creative solutions can reconcile virtually all Palestinian demands with Israel’s existence?


B. Bohbot

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Sep 7, 2022·edited Sep 7, 2022

Palestinians can’t vote because they don’t want to. For 70 years, every opportunity for two states for two people that Israel was ready to embrace was rejected by the Palestinians. Palestinians continue to reject peace today.

If the Palestinians truly want to live in peace in their own country, side-by-side with Israel, the onus is on them to make it very clear to the world. Not their typical obfuscation and rejection.

The good news is that their rejecting peace is no longer preventing Israel from moving forward and establishing relations with its neighbors. Those most hurt by Palestinian leadership corruption and rejectionism are the Palestinian people.

Israel is not suicidal. Peter‘s idea of Kumbaya, everyone living together in peace, is absurd when the Palestinian people are taught that Jews are on land stolen from them and that murdering Jews is a virtue. What’s needed is a young, visionary, reformist Palestinian leader to emerge who recognizes that living in peace next to Israel will bring security and prosperity to its people. That’s what Peter should be focusing his advocacy on. Not wasting everyone’s time on his anti-Israel rants.

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This is all sort of "cool" in theory, but in practice, the Middle East is a genocidal, ethnic cleansing place. So, nice solution is going to be "heh, let's just join with a couple million people who's leaders and a large fraction of followers want to start a genocidal civil war or perhaps just a reign of ceasless terror attacks, all with "plausible deniability".

It just won't work on the ground in practice. So, what to do? Wait. As the age of oil ends (2050s?) the money that fuels the relentless war will dry up and you'll have a peace. Like in Ireland -- once Americans got tired of supporting Catholic terrorists, they settled. There is no such forcing function right now. Even if the Sunnis massively decided "OK, better for everyone", Iran would drive the wedge.

My claim is simple: Your "principled" stand will lead to genocide of the Jewish people, or at least to a far more destructive civil=>regional war.

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I just read the comments section. OMG, Peter! Maybe we are in the twilight zone. I wish you strength and power. I find your honesty inspiring. Truth, and the golden rule are my mottos. Unfortunately both are becoming scarcer and scarcer in the world today.

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" But in its treatment of Palestinians, Israel’s political system fails the liberal democratic criteria that the US espouses, at least rhetorically, all across the world...Under such a system, all the people under Israel’s control would vote in its elections. In taking that view, I’m not singling out Israel. I’m applying the same principles—free elections and equality under the law—that I support in every country, including my own."

There is not a single country on the face of the planet in which "all the people under the control" of that country has the right to vote in that country's elections. Not the United States, not Canada, not a single solitary one. In the United States for example felons can't vote, neither can illegal immigrants and of course Washington DC residents don't have representation in Congress. As an American, you are in no position to call out Israel for "failing liberal democratic criteria" and accusing it of "Jewish supremacy" when your own country is not even close to matching the very criteria you lay out. This is pretty blatant hypocrisy and a double standard, Peter.

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Anonymous is a funny name; maybe it comes from an anonymous country with anonymous laws and human rights. I would not talk to anyone called anonymous.

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Peter, I'd be grateful if you'd explain the concept of "the right to exist". Does any state apart from its ability to hold onto its territory have the right to exist? Where would this right flow from? Who would grant it?

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Peter there is something wrong with your head. All the evidence points to the reality that if Palestinians are accepted full stop, in Israel, Israel will cease to exist. Why are you so deaf, blind and dumb?

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The Cuban government does not repress its people any more than does that of the US or here in the UK (where our Tory regime will soon remove yet more rights with the end of our Human Rights Act). You are repeating US propaganda and giving that government further permission to continue its decades-long war of sanctions against the Cuban people. The public demonstrations in Cuba in 2021 were dominated by two factions, in the main:

- those led by US agents with the aim of destroying Cuba and turning it into a society like that of Colombia or Haiti

- Cuban people who want their government to be more socialist.

If you regard the US as freer or more democratic than Cuba, ask yourself how much freedom and democracy American workers have in their workplaces.

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Hey everyone, I am a first generation student in the U.S. and recently started writing on substack about human rights. I am almost to 50 subscribers, would appreciate if you could read my writing, give some advice, perhaps subscribe and add me to your reading list! If anyone wants to collaborate let me know! Mr. Beinart, I would love to collab with you...

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Can you bunch of haters read the last paragraph and explain why that’s antisemitic?

< At the end of the day, what really matters is the right of individual human beings to exist, in safety and freedom. Any political system, any border, any country must ultimately be judged on how well it safeguards that.>

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Well said.

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Thanks for this piece Peter. I see your point and as always it’s so clearly stated. But i think you’re missing a crucial issue in responding to the mantra-type question (by which I mean one of the many inherited cliches that Israel supporters pull out in response to most every critique) that your reader asked about “why is Israel the only country on earth whose very existence is routinely challenged”.

Talking about Israel’s political system today, while central to understanding why people around the world consider Israel’s claim to democracy fraudulent and their political system in need of being dismantled, still doesn't get to the heart of the matter. And so in some ways it leaves all the usual bundle of excuses and cliches Jews lean on intact.

I would add to your piece that the central reason why so many question Israel’s existence is that it was created as a settler colonial state on another people's land, and Jews have masked (or been aware of, or been in denial about) this reality with words — in the form of over a hundred years of “fake news” — with oppression and with violence. I'm aware that doesn't sit comfortably even with left leaning Jews who want to admit some of Israel's wrongdoing but still want to see the origins as "complicated". But in many ways it is that simple.

When a country comes into being as Israel did, and its supporters today know so little about its real origins that they arm themselves only with a series of cliches about an innocent Zionists or an innocent state under attack, no one can take any defender of Israel seriously. No amount of defensive rage and furious labelling on the part of Jews will free them/us of the reality that most people have long moved beyond the original creation story: with just a bit of honest research that creation story crumbles to bits, and anyone looking into it will know that.

The Jews-in-denial crowd are the last to know, but they cannot stop the march of history. And their wilful ignorance on the real reasons why the world is angry at Israel simply fuels more rage, not only at Israel but at Jews around the world, for defending an oppressive regime while touting the virtues of democracy and human rights.

I don’t think any of the core “mantra” questions can be fully answered in reference to the present: if Jews can’t/won’t/refuse to really confront the origins of the Palestine problem they will never know why Israel’s existence is challenged, will remain captivated by their sense of blissful victimhood and will never be able to help address the real questions that the future needs in order to avoid more pain.

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