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Peter Beinart: “I No Longer Believe In A Jewish State”

Allan C. Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
August 2020

Peter Beinart, a long-time liberal Zionist and advocate of a two-State  
solution, has now changed his mind. He stirred much controversy with an  
article in The New York Times (July 8, 2020) entitled, “I No Longer Believe  
In A Jewish State.” This was preceded by a longer article in Jewish  
Currents, where he is editor-at-large, “Yavne: A Jewish Case For Equality In  
He writes: “For decades I argued for a separation between Israelis and  
Palestinians. Now, I can imagine a Jewish home in an equal state...I was 22  
in 1993 when Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shook hands on the White House  
lawn to officially begin the peace process that many hoped would create a  
Palestinian state alongside Israel. I’ve been arguing for a two-State  
solution...ever since. “  
Beinart notes that, “I knew Israel was wrong to deny Palestinians in the  
West Bank citizenship, due process, free movement and the right to vote in  
the country in which they lived. But the dream of a two-State solution that  
would give Palestinians a country of their own let me hope that I could  
remain a liberal and a supporter of Jewish statehood at the same time.  
Events have extinguished that hope.”  
At the present time, about 640,000 Jewish settlers now live in East  
Jerusalem and the West Bank and, argues Beinart, “...the Israeli and  
American governments have divested Palestinian statehood of any real  
meaning. The Trump administration’s peace plan envisions an archipelago of  
Palestinian towns scattered across as little as 70% of the West Bank, under  
Israeli control. ...If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fulfills his pledge  
to impose Israeli sovereignty in parts of the West Bank, he will just  
formalize a decades-old reality: In practice, Israel annexed the West Bank  
long ago.”  
In reality, Beinart writes, “Israel has all but made its decision: one  
country that includes millions of Palestinians who lack basic rights. Now  
liberal Zionists must make our decision, too. It’s time to abandon the  
traditional two-state solution and embrace the goal of equal rights for Jews  
and Palestinians. It’s time to imagine a Jewish home that is not a Jewish  
state...Equality could come in the form of one state. That includes Israel,  
the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem......or it could be a  
confederation that allows free movement between two deeply integrated  
Achieving the goal of equality, Beinart believes, ...would be long and  
difficult. But it is not fanciful. The goal of equality is now more  
realistic than the goal of separation...Israel is already a binational  
State. Two peoples, roughly equal in number, live under the ultimate control  
of one government. And the political science literature is clear: divided  
societies are most stable and most peaceful when governments represent all  
their people.”  
Beinart concludes: “A Jewish state has become the dominant form of Zionism.  
But it is not the essence of Zionism. The essence of Zionism is a Jewish  
home in the land of Israel, a thriving Jewish society that can provide  
refuge and rejuvenation for Jews across the world. Israel-Palestine can be a  
Jewish home that is also, equally, a Palestinian home. Building that home  
can bring liberation not just for Palestinians but for us, too.” **

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