General UK Media

Peter Beinart’s Open Zion feels the pain of pre-Oslo murderers and their loved ones


An Aug. 20 essay by  at Peter Beinart’s blog Open Zion, titled ‘Palestinian Prisoners Are Released and No One Cares‘, mostly stands out in the way in which Arab murderers are characterized sympathetically while the victims of their brutal crimes are all but ignored.

graphic

Indeed, we’ve been posting frequently on the sympathetic portrayal, by some in the media, of the the 104 pre-Oslo prisoners who Israel has agreed to release – all of whom were convicted of murder, attempted murder, or being an accessory to murder, and the dearth of information about the victims and their families.  And, in fact, Zayid spends most of the space allotted to her commenting on the pain felt by the recently released murderers – in “the middle of the night”!, we are reminded – and the ‘feelings’ of their families.

In addition to the moral inversion typical in the far-left’s coverage of the prisoner release story, here are a few of the smears and falsehoods in Zayid’s Open Zion essay. 

Israelis simply don’t care about the release of prisoners who murdered their fellow citizens:

Zayid writes:

“The Israeli families who claimed to be directly affected by the freed prisoners’ actions seemed to be the only folks who really cared about the move to send these notorious men home.” 

It’s unclear how Zayid gauged the pulse of the Israeli public in a manner sufficient to make such a claim about their attitudes towards the prisoners’ release, but polls certainly indicate she’s flat-out wrong.  In fact, 77.5 percent of Israelis polled recently opposed the release – results which are quite intuitive to most Israelis, an extremely large number of whom have been personally affected by Palestinian terrorism.   

Palestinian “Political Prisoners” in Israel:

Zayid writes:

It is also important to remember whom Israel chose to free. These are not women, children, or prisoners of conscience. They are not your average Palestinians serving time for rock throwing or because an acquaintance who could no longer handle the torture volunteered their name as a scapegoat. These are not the Palestinians being held without charges or as political prisoners for nonviolent resistance.

It’s a small comfort that Zayid doesn’t at least parrot the Palestinian narrative of the pre-Oslo prisoners as “political prisoners“, but she still legitimizes the absurd notion that there are such prisoners in Israeli jails – those whose incarceration are, per the accepted definition of the term, based purely on their political or religious beliefs.

Imputing the most sinister motives to Israelis, even in response to the most painful concessions for peace:

Zayid writes:

Israel chose these prisoners specifically knowing that after over two decades of rotting in jail, these men no longer pose a threat, and that the move to free them could be used to Israel’s advantage. As the families cheer the homecoming of their loved ones, Israel can use those images to reinforce the myth that Palestinians are terrorist-loving savages. 

Of course it was Mahmoud Abbas who demanded the release of the ‘pre-Oslo’ prisoners, and so to imply that releasing them was a strategic, calculated, cynical Israeli decision continues in the illiberal tradition of those who deny Palestinian moral agency, and see in all political events a sinister Israeli motive. Further, to impute Israeli racism in the ‘belief’ that Palestinians routinely engage in incitement and glorify terrorists is to deny evidence documented daily on sites which monitor such incitement.  

It is an indisputable fact that Palestinians routinely celebrate even those citizens who’ve committed the most barbaric crimes, such as the honors bestowed upon Dalal Mughrabi, the woman who led the most lethal terror attack in Israel’s history, when she and other terrorists hijacked a bus in 1978 and killed 37 civilians, 12 of them children.

Moral equivalence between terrorists and the IDF

Zayid writes:

“Others who come to cheer see little difference between Palestinian armed resistance and an Israeli sniper shooting an unarmed 13-year-old through the heart. Both are murderers and both will find a couple hundred people to give them a hero’s welcome, regardless.”

Such a moral equivalency between Palestinian terrorists who intentionally kill Israelis and IDF soldiers who, during the course of engaging Palestinian terrorists, accidentally kill Palestinians is a common theme in anti-Zionist propaganda, and since Zayid doesn’t provide a link it’s impossible to know for sure what incident she’s even referring to.  

However, while Palestinians who murder Israelis (such as the 26 recently released prisoners) have received heroes’ welcomes when they return home, it strains credulity to even imagine a situation where an IDF soldier whose actions may have resulted in the death of a Palestinian child is celebrated because of Palestinian deaths.

One of the 26 Palestinian prisoners released by Israel is greeted by relatives and friends at the headquarters of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Atef Safadi, European Pressphoto Agency / August 14, 2013

One of the 26 Palestinian prisoners released by Israel is greeted by relatives and friends at the headquarters of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. (Atef Safadi, European Pressphoto Agency / August 14, 2013

Religiously segregated housing:

Zayid writes:

“Freeing 26 prisoners out of 5000 means nothing compared to the Israeli Housing Minister announcing the construction of 1200 new religiously segregated housing units

Here, Zaid is likely talking about the recent announcement of 1187 new homes mostly in eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods where, as CAMERA has documented on several occasions in response to false claims, no such segregation exists.  (Indeed, in Dec. 2012, this blog was able to even get the Guardian to acknowledge that it is inaccurate to assert that such racially exclusive housing exists.)

However, in addition to the factual errors and smears, what most stands out in Zaid’s piece is how Arab murderers are humanized, while Israeli victims and their families remain nameless and largely faceless. 

It’s hard to know when Peter Beinart’s Open Zion, supposedly inspired by his love of Israel, devolved into a project which promotes the views of those who are contemptuous of Israelis, and even those who have defended anti-Semites, but, whatever his motivations, this latest piece of agitprop places his blog in an ideological direction closer to Electronic Intifada or Mondoweiss than any site which would proudly identify as Zionist.

UPDATE: There was one additional error in Zayid’s essay which I originally decided not to focus on, but which, based on a Twitter exchange about the issue, is worth at least mentioning. She cited the number of Palestinians as seven million, a number we’ve never seen before and which is greater, by more than two million, than the official Palestinian figures.  Here’s her reply:

Remarkably, she included Arab Israelis in her total count of Palestinians!

31 replies »

    • Thanks for the suggestion, but I chose not to legitimize Beinart’s site. There are few things more disturbing than American Jews who demonize Israel under the veneer of liberalism. Jews like Beinart evidently wake up in the morning genuinely convinced that the Jewish state isn’t criticized enough, and that the state he professes to love is need of even more delegitimizing rhetoric. His site is preaching to the anti-Zionist choir, and I won’t engage them as if they were reasonable, thoughtful, progressive and open minded. They possess none of these attributes.

      • “Thanks for the suggestion, but I chose not to legitimize Beinart’s site. ”

        Quite understandable. After all, why help legitimize Beinart’s misguided efforts?

      • “His site is preaching to the anti-Zionist choir”

        Out and out non-sense if you actually follow it. If you question my statement, ask Gil Troy who is as ardent a defender of Israel as there is and an editor of the site. Your statement is also completely inconsistent with a post by Beinart himself on the site complaining about the lack of attention from pro-Palestinian side to PA abuses of Palestinian human rights.

        “as if they were reasonable, thoughtful, progressive and open minded. They possess none of these attributes.”

        That would apply to individual contributors on the site, such as Zayid and Youssef Munayyer, who have given no indication that they would accept anything short of the reimposition of the Pact of Umar. One could possibly add Emily Hauser to the list. However, the site overall is a debate site. Do you disagree with the notion of having a debate site? Do you disagree with Beinart’s particular implementation of producing a debate site, such as the boundaries of acceptable viewpoints or proportion of post on each side? Or are you questioning Beinart’s claim that he is running a debate site and is instead running just another Israel-bashing site?

        The only justification for claiming opposition to legitimizing OpenZion is the last one. However, if you claim that without backing it up, you are no better than those who shout “Islamophobe” at everyone who says anything critical about any Muslim.

  1. Adam – you have picked some of the less controversial and offensive parts of Zayid’s article to critique. How about her allegation that some Palestinian prisoners are only there because other Palestinians got so tired of “being tortured” they gave up their names?

    I could go on, but reading that article made me feel too ill.

    • Thanks for your comment. I agree there was much more fisk, but, regarding that passage you cited, I felt that the “political prisoner” canard was even more outrageous.

    • I would love to see an accounting of a monitoring project of OZ of a few months. Total posts, total posts decidedly pro-Israel, decidedly pro-Pal, decidedly critical, etc. How many “good news” items in the social, economic, scientific, health, education, research, etc. areas?

  2. Lop-sided thinking published on Beinart’s terrorist “bend-over backwards” support and to hell with any balanced argument or facts.

  3. “Israel chose these prisoners specifically knowing that after over two decades of rotting in jail, these men no longer pose a threat, ”

    I forget the exact percentage, but roughly 40% – 50% of freed prisoners are rounded up within a couple of years and returned to Israeli prisons for once again carrying out terrorist activities.

  4. BTW:

    “Israel chose these prisoners specifically knowing that after over two decades of rotting in jail, these men no longer pose a threat, ”

    So of course Israel should free the ones who have spent the least time in prison and/or pose the greatest threat to Israel?

  5. I would think Israelis would grow tired of being lectured by foreign, armchair elitists like Beinart.

    Meanwhile, the total Arab population of both Israel and territories is not more than 4.5m, while the Jewish population is approaching 6m. So much for the false “demographic threat”.

  6. why “remarkable”? for a decade now, thanks to New Israel Fund money, three major Israeli-Arab NGOs promoting “Palestinians of Israeli citizeneship” theme.

    • Only “remarkable” in how incredibly misleading the number is to most peple. Most readers wouldn’t understand that such anti-Zionists consider Arab citizens of Israel to be “Palestinian”.

  7. “the absurd notion that there are such prisoners in Israeli jails ”

    I sometimes wonder if you live in an hermetically sealed bubble. There are thousands and thousands. I am sorry for the families of those who were murdered but goodness me your narrative is a complete joke.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3130623.stm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_prisoners_in_Israel

    http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/media-review/book-review/5787-threat-palestinian-political-prisoners-in-israel

    • I sometimes wonder whether Jew haters are only partially illiterate or simply can’t read at all.
      You somehow forgot to quote the full sentence here:
      …the absurd notion that there are such prisoners in Israeli jails – those whose incarceration are, per the accepted definition of the term, based purely on their political or religious beliefs.
      Are you saying Jasper that murdering Jews belongs to the belief system of Muslims? Or the ideology and political worldview of the Arabs?
      You are a bloody racist and Islamophobe…

    • “I sometimes wonder if you live in an hermetically sealed bubble”

      jasper as you are the person who on another thread claimed that Scotland, and I quote you, had “never had any anti-Semitism ..”

      What kind of bubble do you live in?

      • I beg your pardon. I meant no historical anti Semitism . There is now of course given that Israel called herself the Jewish State to ensure criticism can be safely boxed into the anti Semitism package. So yes now that Jews are seen as Zionists they are not as safe as they were.

        A site exists proving there was indeed anti Semitism containing as its worst personal attack that a Glasgow Jewish Schoolboy was punched…and somebody was shouted at…in Glasgow…where murder is commonplace and religious assaults are an everyday happening.

        There was more anti Catholic hatred shown last Sunday between 9 and 10 then all the incidences of anti Semitism combined throughout history.

        • “I meant no historical anti Semitism ”
          If that is what you meant you are still wrong.

          “There is now of course given that Israel called herself the Jewish State to ensure criticism can be safely boxed into the anti Semitism package. So yes now that Jews are seen as Zionists they are not as safe as they were.”
          Oh dear me jasper, in the bubble you live in you are justifying attacking Jews as long as it is anti-Zionist. That is classic anti-Semitism.

          “between 9 and 10 then all the incidences ”
          Now where have I seen ‘then’ used instead of ‘than’ before?
          Oh yes, on this website by you using one of your other ‘names’. Jasper you really are a cunning master of disguise.

          • “That is classic anti-Semitism.”

            You seem to have lost all sense of scale. Anti Semitism is hating Jews, hounding them and killing them. On this site it has become having a minor political disagreement about whether you support the entire worlds call for Israel to retreat to the 67 lines or not.

            Peter…

            you are right I should have said the decision for some to call her the Jewish state is mainly because there are a lot of Jews there ..now …following 100 years of immigration and pushing the Arabs out. However to insist on it being called ” the Jewish state” officially is an act of genius…no Arab recently thrown out or imprisoned could fail to be infuriated. You know what you are doing.

            • …you are right I should have said the decision for some to call her the Jewish state is mainly because there are a lot of Jews there .
              In other words Jasper you lied (again) about Israel.
              following 100 years of immigration and pushing the Arabs out.
              Must be some very ineffective pushing considering that almost 20% of the Israeli citizens are Arab. The Arab countries were much more competent pushing out virtually all of their Jewish citizens, but undoubtedly the best on this front were the Europeans, they didn’t bother with pushing…

        • Now I understand why Israel insists to be called the Jewish state. These diabolical Jews… they call their country Jewish in order to make any criticism of the Israeli government antisemitic. We are doomed, Jasper discovered our deepest strategic secret….

        • “So yes now that Jews are seen as Zionists they are not as safe as they were.”
          “There was more anti Catholic hatred shown last Sunday between 9 and 10 then all the incidences of anti Semitism combined throughout history”
          Jews founded Israel, not Extraterrestrians
          You are a complete idiot and an Antisemite.

        • Jasper: ‘Now that Jews are seen as Zionists’

          Well, they have to be seen as something that is detrimental to the European world view, otherwise the whole premise of your identity would be out the window. Jewish existence – either nationally or individually, is always the moral antithesis of chauvinistic European attitudes, and you certainly share such a belief system – however left wing or progressive you imagine it to be. It is part of your tradition and culture – so visceral that such hatred does not register as anything other than normal and acceptable on your morally degraded radar.

  8. “You are a complete idiot and an Antisemite. ”

    I am not an idiot . You are as obvious as you are limited.

    • ““You are a complete idiot and an Antisemite. ”

      “I am not an idiot .”

      So jasper you deny being an idiot but do not deny being an anti-Semite.
      Both are obvious.
      You are an idiot, and as you obviously accept you are an anti-Semite.

    • Limited? You’re still trying to make your case as to why Israel is not only oppressive but unnecessary.

      What’s limited is your brain function, you fucking moron.

      • I like the word limited . Fritz is like one of these blow up kids toys in meta stable equilibrium.. tipping towards lack of understanding one minute then across to sneering fury the next. Quite satisfying for those that suspect that Zionist extremists are not the shiniest penny in the piggy bank.

        I believe in a powerful safe Israel. I m sorry I do not fit your stereotype .

        • “I like the word limited”
          Of course you do jasper, it suits you so well.

          “I believe in a powerful safe Israel.”
          Yes jasper you support Israel the same way a rope supports a hanged man, and with the same intent.

          “I m sorry I do not fit your stereotype ”
          Wrong again jasper, you are a veritable collection of stereotypes.

  9. Old Antisemites wanted to define who is Jewish and who not, new Antisemites want to define who is Jewish and who not. the same murderous Obsession, complete idiot.

  10. A few things to understand: First Maysoon Zayid is not a leftist, she is a Palestinian who fully buys in to the Palestinian national movement’s (PNM) line. Second, OpenZion is not devoted to advancing any one viewpoint, rather it is forum where those of diverse viewpoints can battle it out.

    For the viewpoints included, there are Arabs, Israel-critical Jews and Israel-supporting Jews, for the lack of a better categorization of the Jewish contributors. The major Arab contributors are Zayid, Yousef Munayyer, George Ibish and Ali Gharib. The major Israel-supporter is Gil Troy with some contribution from Samuel Lebens. Previously, Benny Morris filled served in this role. Israel-criticizing Jews include Lara Friedman, Emily Hauser and Daniel Levy. In addition, there are a bunch of minor contributors.

    There are two problems with OpenZion’s lineup. First, while diverse viewpoints are represented, there are differences in the frequency with which those views are posted. As an example, when I did follow OpenZion, I noticed that Hauser would post significantly more often than did Troy. I don’t know whether that is editorial policy at OpenZion, inadequate numbers of Israel-supporters contributing or the Israel-supporting contributors just not producing enough (care to ask Troy about that?). Whatever the reason for that, the result is as Troy described in one post that “OpenZion has become open season on Israel.”

    The second problem is that while the viewpoints are diverse, there are limits. One the one hand, there are no voices explicitly defending the notion that Jewish rights do not end at the Green Line. Lebens comes closest in that he points out that his settlement is a hive of coexistence between Arabs and Jews, but falls short of actually arguing that it has a right to be. On the other hand, OpenZion is part of a broader media conspiracy to silence Palestinians dissenting from the PNM party-line. I have personally asked that Khaled Abu Toameh be added to the lineup and gotten a response that they would do so, but nothing happened along those lines. Right now, there is a cottage industry out there promoting the notion that doing what is best for Israel at times means questioning what Israel and the Israel-lobby demand. Denizens of that industry lionize the likes of J Street and B’Tselem. However, there is no parallel movement that holds that supporting the Palestinians at times requires questioning the PNM’s demands. Unsilencing the dissidents would contribute to ending that situation.