In Guardian op-ed, Peter Beinart calls for Palestinian “right of return”

In Peter Beinart’s 6400 word Guardian op-ed, the words “Hamas”, “Islamic Jihad”, or “terror” don’t appear even once.  Why is this omission relevant? Because, Beinart, a former “liberal Zionist” who adamantly rejected the ‘right of return’ as an impediment to peace, is now an anti-Zionist advocating for an unlimited Palestinian ‘right of return’.  That is, he’s arguing that over 5 million Palestinians (more than 99% of whom aren’t actual refugees) should have the right to emigrate to Israel.

Yet, in his piece (“A Jewish case for Palestinian refugee return”, May 18), he doesn’t once even address what heavily armed antisemitic extremist groups between the river and the sea would likely do to Jews once they are a minority ruled by a Palestinian majority.

The closest he comes to acknowledging fears over the Jews’ safety in such world is to assure us that “Palestinian intellectuals and activists who envision return generally insist that significant forced expulsion of Jews is neither necessary nor desirable”.  Note the modifying word “significant” before “forced expulsion”, acknowledging that – even among the most enlightened Palestinians – it’s a given that some Jews will indeed by expelled.  Also, he doesn’t of course address how the decidedly unenlightened of Gaza and the West Bank would treat their minority Jewish population without the protections afforded to them by sovereignty.

Whilst there’s so much more in his op-ed that proves his intellectual dishonesty – such as, in lamenting the plight of the 1948 refugees, failing to explain the context of the Arab war to annihilate the nascent Jewish state – his unwillingness to grapple with the likely real-world consequences of a state in which seven million Jews could find themselves controlled by racist fanatics ideologically and religiously committed to their murder is by far the most egregious abdication.

Beinart – whose descent into the cult of the woke is such that he wrote an op-ed literally titled “How ‘Pro-Israel’ Orthodoxy Keeps US Foreign Policymaking White – rarely talks about Hamas in his op-eds and essays, or the decidedly far-right, racist views held by an overwhelming majority of ordinary Palestinians. Because to do so would not only complicate his case for the ‘right of return’, but would also shatter the illusion that Palestinians are necessarily on the right side of his race-based, oppressor-oppressed, social justice dividing line.

Finally, as Einat Wilf and Adi Schwartz argued in their book ‘The War of Return‘, the idea that millions of Palestinians are going to be allowed to ‘return’ to Israel is not just farcical, but is arguably one of the biggest impediments to achieving a real solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  As Wilf said, “If a people is constantly strengthened in the belief that they have a ‘right to return’ that is sacrosanct and cannot be renounced, their leaders will never be able to make the compromises needed” for a two-state solution.

However you may characterise Beinart, a promoter of peace and justice he’s not.

Related Posts
Written By
More from Adam Levick
65 years ago today: Guardian misses one key element of 1947 UN partition
Today is the 65th anniversary of the passage of UN General Assembly...
Read More
Join the Conversation


  1. says: Reginald Vernon

    Peter Beinart also wrote an op-ed that discussed whether anti-Zionism was anti-Semitism. He did concede that they are very often seen together but the examples he chose to demonstrate that the terms are not synonymous were specialised and weak.

Leave a comment
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *