Peter Beinart calls for US to pressure Israel by withholding military aid

Peter Beinart, a supporter of BDS, calls for the U.S. to pressure Israel to change its policies. 

By David Isaac, World Israel News 

In a Monday op-ed in The Forward, Peter Beinart added to his series of attacks on Israel by arguing that the U.S. should use American military aid as a means of pressuring Israel to change its policies vis a vis the Palestinians.

Beinart, who also contributes to CNN and The Atlantic, writes that American governments bear a responsibility for the death of the two-state solution by failing over the last 25 years to make “Israel pay a price for undermining it.”

“It’s time for a new generation of American progressives — especially progressive Jews — to make it conceivable again,” to pressure Israel through threats of withholding aid, he said.

He says that American presidents fear being labeled anti-Israel or anti-Semitic if they use American aid as a way to pressure Israel.

Beinart writes approvingly of U.S. presidents who did threaten to pull U.S. aid from Israel, from President Dwight Eisenhower, who demanded that Israel evacuate the Sinai in 1956 to President George H.W. Bush, who refused in 1991 to give Israel $10 billion in loan guarantees until it froze Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

In his piece, Beinart also praised Minnesota Representative Betty McCollum’s 2017 proposed legislation to prevent U.S. tax dollars from going to the Israeli military for allegedly detaining children. “Shamefully, only one Democratic presidential candidate, Representative Seth Moulton, has endorsed it, according to McCollum’s office,” he writes.

Beinart has a history of calling for pressure on Israel when it doesn’t follow policy prescriptions that he supports, including through boycotts.

Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick points out in an August 2018 column, “Beinart is a major supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. Indeed, he is a central figure in the movement.”

“In 2012, Beinart published an oped in The New York Times calling for the boycott, divestment and sanction of all Israeli goods produced by Israeli Jews in Judea and Samaria,” she writes.

In 2018, Beinart was briefly detained at Ben-Gurion International Airport due to his support for the BDS movement. Israeli law prohibits the entry of BDS supporters.

However, the Israeli government quickly apologized. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office released a statement saying “Israel is an open society which welcomes all — critics and supporters alike. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where people voice their opinions freely and robustly.”

Deputy Minister for Public Diplomacy Michael Oren said at the time that Beinart was “a top-rate American media person.”

Glick took issue with this characterization in her column, writing:

“Israel’s apologies and hand-wringing were out of place. Like his comrades on campuses, Beinart’s behavior shouldn’t be characterized as political speech. He is no mere ‘critic’ of Israel. He is an activist who devotes himself to supporting an anti-Jewish campaign whose purpose is to constrain the freedom of American Jewry and cause lasting harm to the Jewish state.”