I emailed a comment to Isi Liebler, on his piece about Peter Beinart, after he me with him when visiting the US a short time ago. Liebler–somebody I know slightly on a personal basis–is a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and a blogger who is clearly right of center. I began as follows:
It’s fine to disagree with Beinart. Although I am supportive of Israeli performing artists boycotting the theater in Ariel, I am not enthusiastic about a blanket boycott of all settlement products (“Zionist BDS”). But I do appreciate that in conceptualizing in this way, Beinart is trying to oppose the general BDS campaign against all of Israel.
What troubles me with your response is that you continue to oppose people by demonizing them, rather than contending with their ideas more respectfully. What does it even mean to be a “far left liberal” (an oxymoron if there ever was one)?
As for the Palestinians, Abbas clearly needs to persuade most Israelis that the PA wants to live in peace with Israel. But in this vein, you would not even address the significance of his letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu in which he outlines reasonable terms for a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict. You wimped out (perhaps even insulting me) by declaring it a waste of time to discuss this with me.
Likewise, you are not addressing the ramifications of religious-nationalist zealots seizing Palestinian homes and other properties in the middle of Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem (but the most urgent and aggressive manifestation of the expanding settlement campaign over the ’67 Green Line). How can an agreement be negotiated if one side preempts the terms of a reasonable compromise by continually grabbing the other side’s assets?
Isi Liebler’s response:
The other “side’s assets” sums it up. What are we talking about?
3-5% of territories over an armistice line breached by a war of aggression?
And I should feel positive towards Beinart for ONLY calling for a boycott of some Israelis?
I have repeatedly condemned far right hooligans who usurp the rule of law.
But I do not regard Abbas as either committed or able to deliver peace and until we have a genuine peace partner willing to forego the right of return and provide reciprocity, I feel we harm ourselves by making further unilateral concessions that only embolden our foes.
I will not belabor this, Isi, but negotiating is not a concession. Continuing the policy of unilaterally taking territory without any legal or international support for doing so, undermines any negotiating process and isolates Israel internationally. In what way are the conditions articulated by Abbas in his letter to Netanyahu not a reasonable basis for negotiations?
P.S. Although I suppose that Isi really believes himself opposed to “far right hooligans who usurp the rule of law,” I don’t recall him ever emphasizing this as a problem or of addressing how the Jerusalem municipality and the Netanyahu government have supported such people taking over Palestinian properties in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.