Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Courage, Peter Beinart

I don't have anything particularly insightful to say about Peter Beinart's call for a boycott of products from Israeli settlements on the West Bank, but as he gets attacked from various factions of the Israel-right-or-wrong bloc I just want to express my support.  Beinart draws his own red line on the green line, rhetorically quarantining "nondemocratic Israel" (the colonial power on the West Bank) from a still-loved still-democratic Israel proper. Here's his call to action:

Having made that rhetorical distinction, American Jews should seek every opportunity to reinforce it. 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. 

But a settlement boycott is not enough. It must be paired with an equally vigorous embrace of democratic Israel. We should spend money we’re not spending on settler goods on those produced within the green line. We should oppose efforts to divest from all Israeli companies with the same intensity with which we support efforts to divest from companies in the settlements: call it Zionist B.D.S.

I don't particularly share his love for and commitment to an Israel divested of its accidental empire, but I admire it. And I think it's disgusting that U.S. tax policy makes individual Americans' support for theocratic imperialist projects on the West Bank tax deductible. In fact I think the U.S. owes Israel precisely nothing. There is no reason for us to be subsidizing a wealthy "ally", let alone undermining our soft power and our security to enable its belligerence.

Kudos too to Robert Wright and Andrew Sullivan for spotlighting the swift attempts to marginalize Beinart.   Since Wright launched his blog on the Atlantic a few weeks ago, Wright's become an instant favorite read. Moral clarity and rhetorical restraint -- that's a potent combo.

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