Guardian op-ed attacks liberal Zionists (or anyone supporting Israel’s existence)

We were expecting the Guardian to weigh in on Peter Beinart’s recent conversion from ‘liberal Zionist’ to anti-Zionist, and, sure enough, yesterday they published an op-ed by Joshua Leifer, Beinart’s colleague at Jewish Currents – the site that ran his call for an end to the Jewish state.

Leifer’s piece (“The two-state solution is a political fiction liberal Zionists still cling to”, July 14) attacks liberal Zionists – whose members included, until two seconds ago, Peter Beinart – for advocating the “political fiction” of two states.  He then suggests that Israeli support over the years for two-states was a ‘washing’ of sorts – a public relations scheme to deflect criticism of what he later called the state’s “territorial expansion”.

The abstract idea of two states has also served a valuable strategic purpose for the Israeli government and professional Israel advocates. References to Israel’s putative commitment to two states in theory have become a way to shield Israel from criticism, and consequences, for actions that in practice rendered a two-state solution impossible.

In order to maintain his fiction that when Israeli leaders said they supported two-states they didn’t really mean it, Leifer (like Beinart in his piece) has to erase the fact that PA leaders have, on three occasions, rejected Israeli peace offers that would have resulted in a two-state solution.  The offers would have created a sovereign Palestinian state in over 90% of the West Bank, 100% of Gaza, and a capital in east Jerusalem.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that Leifer omits such important historical facts, as to do so would require acknowledging that Palestinians possess moral agency, and that their leaders’ bad decisions have invariably led to bad outcomes.

Leifer than scolds “self-defined liberal” Zionists for the fact that they still won’t “confront their contradictions, or surrender their talking points”.  The liberal Zionist groups he’s attacking, he makes clear in a subsequent sentence, includes J Street, Americans for Peace Now and other leftist groups that are extraordinarily critical of Israel, yet, unlike the Guardian writer, support Zionism.

Then, after erroneously claiming that all West Bank Palestinians live under Israel’s “military dictatorship”, ignoring that the overwhelming majority live in PA ruled Area A, he goes after liberal Zionists again:

 the position staked out by Dermer and the Trump administration is not that different from the liberal Zionist one: both envision a Palestinian “state” as an archipelago of isolated, non-contiguous Bantustans subordinated to Israeli control.

It’s unclear what he bases this on. But, the fact is that the Israeli offers we noted previously would have included a territorially contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, with a free passage route to connect Gaza.

Ehud Olmert’s peace plan

Finally, we should note that his Guardian op-ed is a shorter version of what he originally published at Jewish Currents, a piece which includes this revealing passage:

 Both [liberal and right-wing Zionists] are committed to the racist logic of a Jewish demographic majority.

It’s not surprising that Leifer would attack liberal Zionists, since, as this sentence shows, he sees the very idea of Zionism as, by definition, a racist endeavor – rhetoric deemed antisemitic by the IHRA definition. 

It’s not just “the fiction” of two states supported by liberal Zionists that angers him, as he deceitfully claims, but their support for Israel’s continued existence.

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