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IPFS News Link • Israel - Palestine

The cultural importance of Peter Beinart


"The Jews have beaten the Israelis."

–Shimon Peres in 1996 after being defeated by Benjamin Netanyahu

In his recent essay arguing for equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians, Peter Beinart says the Jewish dehumanization of the Palestinians is the biggest threat to a peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians, and he points to the misinterpretation of the Holocaust as a reason for that dehumanization. This "Holocaust lens," Beinart claims, is what makes it so difficult for Jews to see Palestinians as created "b'tselem Elohim," in the image of God.

That dehumanization includes the idea that Palestinians are motivated by antisemitism in their opposition to Israel. The claim, Beinart says, is a function of "Jewish trauma." And, Beinart argues, it says more about us than it does about them:

The depiction of Palestinians as compulsive Jew-haters…stems less from Palestinian behavior than from Jewish trauma. As the late Israeli scholar Yehuda Elkana, a Holocaust survivor himself, has observed, what "motivates much of Israeli society in its relations with the Palestinians is…a particular interpretation of the lessons of the Holocaust … But this Holocaust lens distorts how Palestinians actually behaved: not like genocidal Jew-haters, but rather like other peoples seeking national rights.

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