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Why the New York Times Audience, and Its Editors, Find Peter Beinart so Appealing

Thousands of anti-Israel demonstrators from the Midwest gather in support of Palestinians and hold a rally and march through the Loop in Chicago on Oct. 21, 2023. Photo: Alexandra Buxbaum/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

Since the Hamas terror group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, the New York Times has relied on a journalism professor at the City University of New York, Peter Beinart, as its most prominent opinion page voice on the war.

Sure, the Times has highlighted other voices writing about the topic on its opinion pages, including Bret Stephens, Thomas Friedman, and Nicholas Kristof. But it’s Beinart whose work gets showcased with huge play on the front of the Sunday Opinion section, as it was on Sunday, Oct. 15, and as it was again this past Sunday, March 24.

Unfortunately for the Times and its readers, Beinart is an unreliable guide to the issue. He cherry-picks data and overstates his case. He piles up a mountain of misleading half-truths in the services of a giant lie, his false claim in his latest piece that Zionism and “liberalism” are irreconcilable.

To begin with, it’s not even accurate that “liberalism” has “for more than half a century … defined American Jewish identity,” as Beinart claims. In an article that occupies two broadsheet interior pages plus a graphic-only entire front cover of the Sunday opinion section, Beinart never defines what he means by “liberalism.” He nods at “movements for civil, women’s, labor, and gay rights,” but he doesn’t explain how backing the Hamas side of the war against Israel is consistent with liberalism, given Hamas’ subjugation of women, use of sexual assault, and killing of gay people. He doesn’t make clear if he means classical liberalism or liberalism-as-progressivism or something else. Nor does he really address any serious tensions, other than Zionism, between Judaism and liberalism-as-however-he-means-it. There might be some, as there are with Christianity, too.

Beinart devotes a lot of time to a sort of guilt by association and argument-by-endorsement. He links Israel with Elise Stefanik, Elon Musk, and Viktor Orban, and Israel’s critics with the United Automobile Workers, Human Rights Watch, and Ta-Nehesi Coates. Yet Beinart doesn’t mention that Israel has plenty of totally unsavory enemies on both the left and the right, and plenty of durable allies on the left, too—Ritchie Torres, John Fetterman,  Alma Hernandez, Brad Schneider, Steny Hoyer.

Beinart saying you can’t be liberal and support Israel is the mirror-image of former President Trump saying you can’t be pro-Israel and vote for Democrats; it’s an opinion, but Beinart hypes up his own wishful thinking as if he’s empirically describing a break that is actually underway: “the rupture,” “an ideological tremor,” “an earthquake.”

A substantial section of Beinart’s piece is devoted to the false accusation that pro-Israel Jews oppose free speech. Actually, as Dara Horn memorably explained, “the problem was not that Jewish students on American university campuses didn’t want free speech, or that they didn’t want to hear criticism of Israel. Instead, they didn’t want people vandalizing Jewish student organizations’ buildings, or breaking or urinating on the buildings’ windows. They didn’t want people tearing their mezuzahs down from their dorm-room doors. They didn’t want their college instructors spouting antisemitic lies and humiliating them in class. They didn’t want their posters defaced with Hitler caricatures … They didn’t want people punching them in the face, or beating them with a stick.”

To the extent that “speech” has anything to do with it, it’s more the stunning double standard between zero campus tolerance of speech that makes some groups uncomfortable and free-speech-absolutism for cheering on Jew-killing terrorist groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

It’s all not even a surprise: Beinart has been publicly bashing Israel in the pages of the New York Times since at least 2012, when, under the headline, “To Save Israel, Boycott the Settlements,” he claimed, again falsely, “Through its pro-settler policies, Israel is forging one political entity between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea — an entity of dubious democratic legitimacy, given that millions of West Bank Palestinians are barred from citizenship and the right to vote in the state that controls their lives.” In 2020, Beinart declared in the Times, “I no longer believe in a Jewish state.”

Given the lack of intellectual rigor, given the inaccuracies, both small-scale and big-picture, given the sloppiness of the arguments, given the utter predictability, you have to wonder, why does the Times run so much of this stuff?

I have a couple of theories.

The first is personality driven. The upper ranks of Times opinion editing have gotten taken over by individuals — editorial director Allison Benedikt, Sunday opinion editor Max Strasser — who are generally in sympathy, substantively, with Beinart in terms of their hostility to Israel.

The second is customer driven. Some portion of the Times online readership — alienated graduate students and other young, college educated liberals, along with increasing numbers of non-Americans — are looking for someone to give them a pass to hate Israel, basically to excuse their antisemitism. Beinart serves that function.

One day a few weeks after Oct. 7, I showed up to observe one of the anti-Israel rallies at Harvard, and I was surprised to see it begin with some woman who identified herself as a Jew telling everyone in attendance to remember her, their “Jewish friend,” if they felt worried that anything they were doing during the rest of the event was antisemitic. For Times readers, Beinart is the equivalent of that person — a permission-giver. When Beinart asserts “there’s nothing antisemitic” about wanting to wipe Israel, as a Jewish state, off the map, the Times readers experience it as liberating.

Beinart writes that “for an American Jewish establishment that equates anti-Zionism with antisemitism, those anti-Zionist Jews are inconvenient.” But the Times‘ audience, and Beinart’s, isn’t the American Jewish establishment. That establishment is solidly behind Israel. The Times audience is Israel-haters. For them, the equation of anti-Zionism with antisemitism is inconvenient, and the existence of Beinart offers a way to hate Israel while avoiding the guilt that might otherwise accompany discrimination against Jews.

Beinart pats the liberal Times readers on the back, reassuring them that not only is there no conflict between liberalism and hating Israel, it’s actually their responsibility as good liberals to hate Israel. That the Times can find a commercial audience for the enablement of Israel-hate doesn’t make the core message any less of a lie.

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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‘Any Chance the Media Would Cover This?’ New Video Shows Terrorists in Gaza Using Humanitarian Aid to Help Prepare Rockets

Terrorists in Gaza using humanitarian aid bags to prop up rockets. Photo: Screenshot

Terrorists in Gaza have been using humanitarian aid bags to prop up rockets they were preparing to shoot at Israelis, new video circulating on social media reveals, underscoring the challenges of delivering aid to Palestinian civilians in the Hamas-ruled enclave without it being stolen.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade — which is the armed wing of Fatah, the political party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbasused bags from Turkey and UNRWA — the UN agency responsible for the Palestinians — to prop up the rockets, according to the video.

At least three of the bags say they contain “wheat flour,” and the bag from Turkey specifically says it is supposed to go “to the Palestinian people.” It is unclear whether the bags had previously been opened to extract the food and then refilled with sand, for example, or if it still contained the food that was intended to feed Palestinian civilians.

“Any chance the media would cover this, yet another violation of international humanitarian law?” pro-Israel commentator Hen Mazzig wrote on X/Twitter while sharing the video.

Rafah, Gaza: Hamas is using UN humanitarian aid bags as rocket launchers today.

Any chance the media would cover this, yet another, violation of International Humanitarian Law?

— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) May 29, 2024

Almost every day for the past seven months, Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist organizations have been shooting rockets into Israel from civilian areas, which is a war crime. Tens of thousands of Israelis are internally displaced and unable to return to their homes as a result.

There is mounting evidence that Hamas has also operated in civilian clothing and in civilian infrastructure such as hospitals. However, these violations of international law are rarely noted by much of the media.

The latest video of terrorists using humanitarian aid for military purposes underscores the issue of making sure such aid gets to Palestinian civilians. 

The US built a pier to deliver 2,000,000 meals daily to Palestinian civilians, but after a few weeks of operation, the Pentagon said none of the aid unloaded from the pier had made it to those who needed it. On one occasion, about 70 percent of the aid has been stolen while en route to a UN warehouse. In other cases, it just never showed up.

Israeli estimates suggest approximately 60 percent of the aid that has gone into Gaza has been stolen — either by Hamas or other groups and individuals. Oftentimes, that aid is then sold to the population at high prices, making it difficult to impossible for most Gazans to gain access to it. 

According to Ehud Yaari, an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hamas has made more than $500 million in profit from selling humanitarian aid since Oct. 7.

The terror group began the war last October by massacring 1,200 people in Israel and taking more than 250 people hostage, about half of whom have still not been released.

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Columbia University Anti-Zionist Group Endorses Hamas

Demonstrators take part in an anti-Israel demonstration at the Columbia University campus, in New York City, US, Feb. 2, 2024. REUTERS/David Dee Delgado

Columbia University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has endorsed Hamas, a US-designated terrorist organization, the latest sign of its growing extremism and willingness to embrace antisemitic violence.

“The Palestinian resistance is the only force materially fighting back against isr*el [sic],” the group said in a series of posts shared by Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus, a social media account which exposes antisemitism on college campuses. “There is no way to eliminate the resistance without ending the occupation. When you see a video of a young palestinian [sic] boy traumatized in a hospital talking about how iof [the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF] shot his pregnant mother in cold blood in front of his own eyes, do not question how he chooses to resist years later.”

.@Columbia and @BarnardCollege, @ColumbiaSJP is actively promoting terrorism and anti-Israel rhetoric on their social media channels. They are sounding more and more like Hamas spokespeople every day. When is the university going to permanently ban this “student group”?

— Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus (@CampusJewHate) May 26, 2024

Campus Reform, a higher education watchdog which first reported Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus’ posts, noted that Columbia SJP has added an “inverted red triangle” to its social media biography, further indicating its support for Hamas. The Palestinian terrorist group has used an inverted red triangle in its propaganda videos to indicate an Israeli target about to be attacked, and anti-Israel protesters on university campuses have been using the symbol in their demonstrations.

Columbia SJP, a group that has reformed under multiple organizations since being suspended by school administrators during the fall semester, has been central in staging a slew of riotous demonstrations in which anti-Zionist activists verbally assaulted Jewish students with antisemitic epithets, clamorously expressed support for terrorism and Hamas, and caused thousands of dollars in damages to school property.

The group’s behavior after Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the StandWithUs Center for League Justice (SCLJ).

The complaint alleges that after bullying Jewish students and rubbing their noses in the carnage Hamas wrought on their people, the pro-Hamas students were still unsatisfied and resulted to violence. They beat up five Jewish students in Columbia’s Butler Library, according to the lawsuit. Another attacked a Jewish students with a stick, lacerating his head and breaking his finger, after being asked to return missing persons posters she had stolen.

Following the incidents, pleas for help allegedly went unanswered and administrators told Jewish students they could not guarantee their safety while SJP held its demonstrations. The school’s apparent powerlessness to prevent anti-Jewish violence was cited as the reason why Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a recognized school club, was denied permission to hold an event on self-defense. Events with “buzzwords” such as “Israel” and “Palestine” were forbidden, administrators allegedly said, but SJP continued to host events while no one explained the inconsistency.

The explosion of end-of-year protests held by the group forced Columbia officials to shutter the campus in April and institute virtual learning. Later, the group occupied Hamilton Hall, forcing President Minouche Shafik to call on the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for help, a decision she hesitated to make. According to The Columbia Spectator, over 108 arrests were made.

“Yes, we’re all Hamas, pig!” one protester was filmed screaming during the fracas, which saw some verbal skirmishes between pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist partisans. “Long live Hamas!” said others who filmed themselves dancing and praising the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization. “Kill another solider!”

Amid the chaos, a prominent rabbi at the school urged Jewish students to leave the campus for the sake of their safety. Ultimately, the university cancelled its main commencement ceremony.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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Guitarist Eric Clapton Says ‘Israel Is Running the World,’ Criticizes US Hearings on Campus Antisemitism

Eric Clapton during his guest appearance on the YouTube channel “The Real Music Observer” on May 22, 2024. Photo: YouTube screenshot

British singer-songwriter and guitarist Eric Clapton promoted the antisemitic conspiracy theory that Israel runs the world during an interview last week on the YouTube channel “The Real Music Observer.”

The Grammy Award winner and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, 79, referenced recent US congressional hearings where lawmakers grilled presidents of elite universities about surging antisemitism and rampant anti-Israel demonstrations on their campuses.

“I was so enthused about what was going on at Columbia [University] and everywhere. And then I saw, what I couldn’t believe, because it freaked me out, were the Senate hearings, which were like the Nuremberg trials, you know?” Clapton said during his guest appearance on “The Real Music Observer,” hosted by David Spuria. “The Senate committee would be asking pointed questions to presidents of universities, saying, ‘I just want to hear yes or no. Don’t talk to me about context. Yes or no, are you promoting antisemitism in your college? Yes or no.’ And I thought, what is this, the Spanish Inquisition? And it is! It’s AIPAC [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee], it’s the lobby. Israel is running the show. Israel is running the world.”

The hearings that Clapton referenced were held by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, not a Senate panel.

In November, a little more than a month after the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel, Clapton released an instrumental song called “Voice of a Child.” The song’s music video features photos from pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel rallies around the world as well as images of destruction in the Gaza Strip. The music video completely overlooks the Oct. 7 massacre that sparked the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Clapton has recently been performing with a guitar that he painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag. Talking about the guitar while appearing on “The Real Music Observer,” he said, “We’re doing a thing now on this tour that I wrote originally as a tribute to Jeff Beck [who died in 2023]. I performed it at a tribute concert and then I didn’t play it anymore. But for this tour I’m doing it under a different guise. It’s the same tune, but I devoted it to the situation in Gaza. It’s called ‘Blue Dust’ because that’s what’s probably going to be left there. And I play a guitar that’s painted like the Palestinian flag.”

Clapton is a close friend of former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, who has openly expressed antisemitic and anti-Israel sentiments, and has performed in garments that resemble a Nazi SS officer uniform. Clapton has defended Waters in the past, claiming that people “misinterpret” the latter’s position on Israel, and said last week that it takes “guts” to share political opinions like his.

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