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Peter Beinart

Book Review

Beinart presents a long-overdue and realistic assessment of where Zionism has come to. The basic message is gloomy, Zionism is a disaster, even for Israel. However it works out, we indorse Beinart's realistic and even-handed view of the new situation. There is some hope. The man holding the high cards in the Israeli government may be seeing that any end game must involve two states, as most of the concerned world also believes.

Basically the historic issue is that Palestine has been home to both Arabs and Jews. And each have valid claims. Human nature being what it is, see Five Pillars, nationalism and empire are natural outgrowths of our twin tendencies toward dominance and obedience. Beinart illustrates this yet one more time by documenting the early abuses of the Zionists that are still with us today. Such abuses have now become institutionalized with the complicity of the political parties.

In the West Bank, for example, a Palestinian must apply for a building permit before building a house. But such permits are rarely approved. If a Palestinian builds one anyway, it will be bulldozed. Border crossing is a sometimes-thing and long delays are commonplace. An effective infrastructure under Israeli occupation is a pipe dream.

The Likud party has always been Zionistic, but by its partnership in governance, at Netanyahu's request, now may have a pragmatic element: The Kadima party, self-proclaimed to be "centrist" actually is his ally where Palestine is concerned. Not only will the next election be delayed, but Netanyahu has strong government backing for whatever he decides to do.

Will it be an indecisive war that could so inflame the Middle East, and at least part of the rest of the world, that Israel's continued existence is endangered or will it be peaceful co-existence?

There are Israelis as well as Palestinians on both sides of this question. Beinart suggests long-term education in togetherness as a long-term cure. For the shorter-term his suggestion is less specific, other than the usual should-dos and don'ts. One can only hope that despite Netanyahu's Zionist roots, he will opt for peace. He has a precedent. At the zenith of his power, Richard Nixon visited China with a dove in hand. Benjamin Netanyahu could do well to follow his example.

What is certain is the history of two peoples. Each has valid claims. Each has lots of blood of blood on its hands. Being the stronger, Israel has the upper hand, and it should use that strength to preserve its own future. Life behind an Iron Wall can only be temporary.

To be sure, the holocaust happened. But that does not excuse the Zionists if they adopt Hitler's views on how to deal with an enemy.

See: Zionism for the early background and our editorial policy toward Palestine. Ancillary information is available on Zionism Blog.


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