3/20/2012

Binary Beinart

I live in Modiin, part of what Peter Beinart calls "democratic Israel," the part of the Holy Land that he deems worthy of vigorous embrace. But I have a problem - my parents and two of my sisters live across the Green Line. Tomorrow I have a family simcha in Samaria the West Bank "nondemocratic Israel". If I were to take Beinart's recommendation seriously and, like some of Israel's most prominent authors, refuse to visit settlements, I'd miss the bris. Perhaps I can ask for a hetter, a special dispensation to visit the banned-lands.

Let me say that I agree with Beinart's central premise, even if I disagree with his narrative about how it came to be: it is untenable for Israel to assert its control over [insert territorial term of choice here] without giving its Arab residents a horizon of citizenship, be it citizenship in Israel or an independent Palestine. But there are many reasons not to adopt Beinart's approach to this dilemma, one of which relates directly to my present situation.

Beinart proposes to combining a boycott of most of post-1967 Israel with a vigorous embrace of pre-1967 Israel (plus East Jerusalem). This does not merely entail drawing a line through territories, but also through families and friendships. He wants to put 300,000 Jews in cherem.

Israeli society definitely has its political, geographic, and conceptual fault lines. but the intimacy of Israeli society makes it impossible to imagine an absolute division of the Israeli Jewish citizen body into two distinct classes, as deep as the disagreements might be.
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