“Israel today,” Jeremy Ben-Ami tells us in “Liberal Zionism and Its Discontents” (Opinion, Sept. 12), “falls far short of fulfilling the dreams of its founders in all respects.” In a one-sentence tour de force Mr. Ben-Ami thus writes off Israel’s 66 years of astonishing accomplishment.
Ben-Ami is just as dismissive of the Palestinians, though he does not say so expressly. Indeed, the “P” word comes up only twice in his 24-paragraph analysis of Israel’s purported racism and everything else he sees wrong with the Jewish state. By paying so little attention to the Palestinians, Ben-Ami patronizes them, letting them off the hook from having any responsibility whatsoever for their own history or destiny. While Ben-Ami says that Jewish soul-searching followed the devastating war in Gaza, he points to no similar moral accounting among the Palestinians. There is none. Polls show that if the Palestinians voted today, they would elect Hamas, the very author of that devastating Gaza war.
Further on, Ben-Ami lays out fundamental choices: maximizing Israel’s territory, keeping its Jewish identity, and remaining democratic. The chooser is Israel, with the Palestinians, by implication, passively waiting to see how it turns out. Ben-Ami does not say that the Palestinians, too, must choose: between the fantasy of defeating Israel by force of arms or turning their energies to building a country worthy of taking its place among the nations of the world.