By Stephen M. Flatow/JNS.org
Israel critic Peter Beinart has announced that when his children “near adulthood, I’ll encourage them to visit the West Bank.” Why? “So they can see for themselves what it means to hold millions of people…without free movement or due process,” he wrote in his column for The Forward.
The Beinart children are in for quite a surprise.
In his various articles and media appearances, Papa Beinart regularly accuses Israel of occupying and oppressing the Palestinians. I imagine that’s what the Beinart kids hear at the dinner table, too.
But when the young Beinarts arrive in Judea and Samaria, they will discover that dear old dad wasn’t telling them the whole story. In fact, he wasn’t even telling them a small piece of the story.
Despite all the stuff they heard at home about Israel’s “military occupation,” they’ll discover that, in fact, the Israeli military governor of the territories left long ago. The Israeli military administration in the territories has long since been dismantled. The Israeli army was withdrawn, by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, 22 years ago. Papa Beinart is a little behind the times!
If the younger Beinarts dare to venture into Ramallah, Bethlehem or Shechem (Nablus), they won’t see any Israeli soldiers. Instead, they’ll see Palestinian policemen and security forces.
They’ll see that in the areas where more than 98 percent of the Palestinian Arabs reside, it is the Palestinian Authority (PA), not Israel, which is the ruling power. The mayors are Palestinians. The judges in the courts are Palestinians. So are the folks who guard the jails, staff the hospitals and teach in the schools. There are no Israelis to be found anywhere.
The Beinart children may find themselves feeling like they’ve just stepped into Bizarro World. Everything their father taught them is the exact opposite of reality. Will they believe their eyes, or their prevaricating father?
Beinart was right when he said that his kids will see “what it means to hold millions of people…without free movement or due process.” But it’s the PA, not Israel, that is depriving the Palestinians of things such as free movement and due process.
Last year, a group of civic-minded Palestinians tried to join a rally staged by striking Palestinian teachers. (They were striking because the corrupt PA regime hadn’t paid them in many months, although it has plenty of money to arm one of the largest per-capita security forces in the world.) The PA police set up roadblocks outside the rally, and arrested those who tried to reach the demonstration. “Free movement,” huh?
“Due process” from the PA? Don’t make me laugh. Even groups that are strongly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have reported how the PA routinely jails its critics, holds detainees without trial and brutally tortures prisoners.
Just months ago, a female member of the Palestinian parliament, Najat Abu Baker, hid in the parliament building for 17 days after the PA police sought to arrest her for criticizing PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Her crime? According to The New York Times, she said that Abbas should resign “and suggested that there would be money to pay educators if ministers were not so corrupt.”
The Beinart children may wonder why their father seldom writes about subjects like the PA’s totalitarianism, and why he accuses Israel of the crimes that the PA commits. I wonder, too!
Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.