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Q. Why are so many North American Jews ignorant about the Israel-Palestine situation?
A. Peter Beinart’s article in The New York Times of July 8, 2020 (https://nyti.ms/3h6MaZa) lit up the Internet with comments, and sucked in people such as the actor Seth Rogen to chime in with remarks that I can only characterize as silly and immature. I’m not going to dwell on Beinart’s premise — that there should be a so-called ‘one state’ solution to the Israel-Palestine situation. The amount of ignorance surrounding this issue is breathtaking. It’s as if none of the talking heads knows anything about the history of the conflict or the current views of the official charters and pronouncements of Hamas and the PA, to say nothing of their rejections of multiple peace plans or refusals to enter into good faith negotiations or of the calumnies and vitriol that stem from their textbooks and press releases about Jews and Israel.
All of these facts are well-known and codified in superbly researched articles by members of the Jewish and Israeli press. That they are ignored, willfully, in the vain attempt to paint a kumbaya picture of a state shared by two peoples is intellectually dishonest. And my view is that the Peter Beinarts of the world know this. About the Seth Rogens of the world? I actually don’t think they have a clue. They hide behind silly mantras such as we millennials view things differently … which would be less offensive if the differences were grounded in reality (i.e., a deep analytical dive into the intricacies of the issues). Unfortunately, they’re not, and the smugness of such folks who haven’t spent an iota of time really understanding the complex issues (or living in Israel and seeing for their own eyes) at hand is head-spinning, to stay the least. Does anyone actually care what a Seth Rogen has to say about Israel? In legal terms, he and his cohorts have no standing. And shouldn’t have.
Do you think he is going to weigh in on the massacre of the Rohingas? The attempted destruction of the Uighurs? The 5 million displaced in Syria? And others to numerous to mention? Hardly likely.
You see, unfortunately, many Jews such as Rogen believe that because they are (in many cases) nominally Jewish that they have the right to weigh in on meaty issues that concern Israel. The only people listening to them are others of their ilk, and that eventually turns into a full circle firing squad. The bottom line is that Israel as a state is not going to wrap itself into a fetal position to nurse at the breast of know-nothings to go along with their inane criticisms.
Are the policies of the current Israeli administration perfect? No. Can things be done to improve the lives of non-Jews in Israel and territories they control? Absolutely. But these issues will be solved by the participants who live there now, and who will continue to live there long after the Beinarts and Rogens are out of the picture. You see, many Israelis hold these people in contempt (or see them foolish or naive) or at the least see them as unnecessary and unhelpful.
The Peter Beinarts of America — you want to help? Go to Israel for 6 months (not for a weekend), speak with Israelis and Palestinians of all stripes, and do so while having your political baggage remain at home. Have your clothes checked at customs but leave your prejudices with your friends in the U.S. Ask the hard questions, and make sure you dig relentlessly deeper and fact check so you’re not fooled by superficial public relations spins. Then, if you want to go home and write about any of this, do so from some experience, but don’t filter out those facts that don’t fit a preconceived narrative. The Seth Rogens? Don’t bother to go. You don’t have the chops to grasp what’s beyond the headlines.