In an op-ed in the New York Times, Jewish author and journalist Peter Beinart calls on American Jews to boycott the settlements, while at the same time, rejects the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. According to Beinart, this is the only way to save the two-state solution. By expanding settlements, he says, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pursuing a non-democratic version of a one-state solution – while BDS is pursuing a non-Jewish one. Beinart rejects both:
The Israeli government and the BDS movement are promoting radically different one-state visions, but together, they are sweeping the two-state solution into history’s dustbin.
It’s time for a counteroffensive — a campaign to fortify the boundary that keeps alive the hope of a Jewish democratic state alongside a Palestinian one. And that counteroffensive must begin with language.
Peter Beinart is a former editor of the New Republic and an associate professor of journalism at CUNY. He writes today for the Daily Beast-Newsweek. A couple of years ago, Beinart published an article in the New York Review of Books that criticized the American Jewish establishment for supporting the occupation and subsequent anti-democratic trends in Israel. By betraying the liberal tradition of their community, Beinart claimed, Jewish institutions and Jewish leaders are alienating the younger generation of American Jews.
One of the important points Beinart makes in his Times op-ed addresses the financial support the U.S. government is giving the settlements through various tax breaks:
We should lobby to exclude settler-produced goods from America’s free-trade deal with Israel. We should push to end Internal Revenue Service policies that allow Americans to make tax-deductible gifts to settler charities. Every time an American newspaper calls Israel a democracy, we should urge it to include the caveat: only within the green line.
Beinart’s book “The Crisis of Zionism,” a sort of follow-up to the NYRB piece, is scheduled to come out at the end of the month. I will post a review of the book here, and some of the interesting details it reveals, in the coming weeks.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that had Beinart published his piece in Israel, he – and the paper that run it – would have risked being sued by anyone who saw himself financially hurt by this call. Under Israel’s new Boycott Law, they could be forced to pay up to 30,000 NIS (8,000 USD) without the plaintiff having to prove damages. The boycott law is an attack on freedom of speech and an effort to forbid opposition to the occupation, part of a growing trend in Israel, which is likely to get worse in the coming years.
Everything you (never) wanted to know about Israel’s anti-boycott law
Jewish Week op-ed makes (bad) case for Israel’s boycott law
Don’t fight Apartheid Week: Responding to Haaretz’s Burston
In flinching move, Finkelstein slams boycott movement