Panning Peter Beinart: Michael Oren, ADL, J Street reject call to boycott settlements


Yesterday’s call by Peter Beinart in a New York Times Op-Ed for American Jews to boycott Israel’s settlements in the West Bank (while rejecting boycotts aimed at Israel proper) has drawn rebukes from diverse Jewish quarters.

The Israeli ambassador to the U.S, Michael Oren, posted the following on Facebook:

Peter Beinart’s call ("To Save Israel, Boycott the Settlements," New York Times, 3.19.12) places him well beyond the Israeli mainstream, the moderate left, and the vast majority of Israelis who care about peace. The call for boycotting all products made by Israeli communities outside of Jerusalem and beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines is supported only by a marginal and highly radical fringe. Beinart’s position, moreover, absolves the Palestinians of any responsibility for the current situation, including their rejection of previous peace offers, their support for terror, and their refusal to negotiate with Israel for the past three years. By reducing the Palestinians to two-dimensional props in an Israeli drama, Beinart deprives them of agency and indeed undermines his own thesis. Without an active Palestinian commitment to a two-state solution–irrespective of boycotts–the peace Beinart seeks cannot be achieved.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman wrote in to the Times:

Peter Beinart’s depiction of his call for a boycott will not accomplish its goal of finding a solution to the conflict and will only worsen the anti-Israel and delegitimization campaigns around the world that he says he opposes.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street (whose upcoming national conference Beinart will be addressing), tells Tablet Magazine that he isn’t too keen on Beinart’s boycott call:

In an interview today with Tablet Magazine, J Street head Jeremy Ben-Ami said he “absolutely agreed” with Beinart’s diagnosis of the situation. “He’s the troubadour of our movement in laying out this urgency and need for us to sound the alarm,” he said. He also reiterated J Street’s opposition to the boycott: “He thinks that pressure on settlers on an individual basis will get them to rethink their enterprise,” he explained. “I don’t think that’s going to happen. They think the world is against them, and this will only reinforce their belief that they’re right and reestablish their intensity to hold onto the land.”

Ben-Ami cast this disagreement as purely tactical, however, saying, “A boycott in and of itself has no ideological identity … I don’t think that anything he’s saying is in any way questioning the legitimacy of the state of Israel—and in fact he’s proposing these things to support the legitimacy of the state of Israel.”


Atlantic blogger Jeffrey Goldberg, also a critic of West bank settlements, is also cool toward Beinart’s proposal:

I don’t have much good to say about Beinart’s call for a boycott, because I find economic warfare targeting Jews so distasteful, for obvious historical reasons. (As readers of Goldblog know, I would like to see the settlers out of the West Bank as well, but this is a very bad way to go about achieving the goal.)

David Frum suggests that Beinart’s call to boycott settlements and oppose boycotts aimed at Israel proper is untenable:

In this morning’s New York Times, my Daily Beast colleague Peter Beinart urges a global economic boycott of Israel. Peter draws a distinction between a boycott of "Israel" and "the occupied territories," but as his new associates in the anti-Israel boycott movement understand better than he does, such a distinction is unworkable in fact and unsustainable psychologically.

Meanwhile Electronic Intifada founder and one-state advocate Ali Abunimah also doesn’t like Beinart’s Op-Ed, but for different reasons:

@PeterBeinart is trying to save a fictitious "democratic" Israel.

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