Did Peter Beinart just blame Israel for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?

Beinart’s objectivity and his mind’s ability to tell fact from fictional narratives are called into question.

By Gidon Ben-Zvi, Honest Reporting

In an article in The Guardian titled, The US supports illegal annexations by Israel and Morocco. Why the hypocrisy?, Peter Beinart draws a parallel between Russia’s incursion into Ukraine and Israel’s defensive actions during the 1967 Six-Day War.

In the piece, he suggests that the United States should no longer continue providing the Jewish state with military aid because doing so would “make Ukraine, Taiwan and every other weaker nation bordered by a rapacious neighbor more vulnerable.”

Beinart frames his argument by quoting U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who described Russia’s aggression as an affront to “Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” as well as “gross violation of international law.”

Beinart proceeds:

“Remaking borders by force violates a core principle of international law. Which is why the Biden administration must do more than resist Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. It must stop violating that principle itself.”

Beinart writes this in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict, accusing the Jewish state of disregarding “a core principle of international law” when it annexed the Golan Heights that were “seized from Syria in the 1967 War.”

What Beinart fails to note is that, in stark contrast to Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, Israel, which indeed gained control of parts of the Golan Heights during the Six-Day War, had been attacked by neighboring Arab countries and as such was forced into fighting for its very survival.

Indeed, regional leaders in the run-up to launching the conflict had repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel.

Not only did then Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser impose a blockade of Israeli goods through the Straits of Tiran, itself an act of war, all while ordering a massive military buildup and demanding the removal of UN peacekeeping forces monitoring the shared border, but top Arab officials repeatedly made genocidal statements such as the following by then Syrian defense minister (and later president) Hafez Assad:

“Our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse any aggression, but to initiate the act ourselves, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland of Palestine. The Syrian army, with its finger on the trigger, is united. I believe that the time has come to begin a battle of annihilation.”

Moreover, Beinart blithely ignores the fact that Syria remains in the throes of a decade-plus-long civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, and that the country is run by a murderous dictator.

Beinart also discounts the strategic importance of the area as it relates to Israel’s security, even as Iranian-backed fighters are trying to remilitarize the region so they may one day try to exterminate Israel.

Specifically, prior to the 1967 war, the Syrian army plagued northern Israel by frequently launching artillery attacks against Israelis. In the preceding 17 years, approximately 370 Israelis were hit by Syrian fire, resulting in 121 deaths. In the first three months of 1967 alone, Damascus and its allies caused over 270 border “incidents.”

Despite the obvious security ramifications, the Israeli government after the war still proposed returning the Golan Heights to Syria in exchange for peace. In response, the Arab League — at the time comprising Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, and Sudan — issued a proclamation known as the Khartoum Resolution, or, more informally, the Three Nos: “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it….”

Israel and Morocco: Beinart’s apartheid fixation

Perhaps sensing that his Russia-Israel comparison is unfounded, Beinart then compares Israel’s 1981 application of sovereignty over the Golan Heights to Morocco’s annexation of the Western Sahara — which Rabat invaded in 1975 after the withdrawal from the region of its Spanish colonial rulers.

For good measure, Beinart invokes the thoroughly debunked (see here and here) Israel “apartheid” libel:

Even as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International allege that it [Israel] is practicing apartheid… the Biden administration has also boosted arms sales to Morocco even though the U.S.-based democracy watchdog Freedom House reports that people in Western Sahara enjoy fewer freedoms than people in China or Iran.”

Meanwhile, Israel recently was ranked above the United States in a respected global index of democratic values. The latest edition of the annual Democracy Index from the prestigious Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) gave Israel 7.97 points out of a maximum of ten, ahead of Italy and Spain and on par with France (7.99 points) and Britain (8.1 points).

Beinart confuses reality with ‘hypocrisy’

Peter Beinart lambasts as hypocritical Washington’s policy regarding Israel and the Golan Heights, writing that “any use of force to change borders is strictly prohibited under international law.” Yet, apparently, this does not apply to Iranian forces attempting to turn the Syrian portion of the Golan Heights into a launchpad for attacks meant to eliminate the Jewish state and thereby alter geographical demarcations.

Apparently, there is nothing even “hypocritical” about Tehran’s repeated calls to eradicate Israel.

By claiming that continued Israeli control over the Golan Heights is somehow making other nations and territories more vulnerable to a “rapacious” neighbor, Beinart is effectively implying that the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and to defend its citizens somehow spells doom for freedom-loving people everywhere.

This, along with his seeming disregard for actual violations of international law, such as those incessantly committed by U.S.-designated Palestinian terror groups (see here and here) calls into question Beinart’s objectivity and his mind’s ability to tell fact from fictional narratives.