Jews Should Understand

Jewish journalist Peter Beinart speaks on the irony of claiming that Jews have a right to return after 2,000 years but that Palestinian families who still have the keys to their homes don’t.

Writing in the NY Times, Beinart says, “the Israeli government and its American Jewish allies insist that Palestinian refugees abandon hope of returning to their homeland. This demand is drenched in irony, because no people in human history have clung as stubbornly to the dream of return as have Jews. Establishment Jewish leaders denounce the fact that Palestinians pass down their identity as refugees to their children and grandchildren. But Jews have passed down our identity as refugees for 2,000 years. In our holidays and liturgy we continually mourn ourexpulsion and express our yearning for return.”

Beinart’ full essay on the topic, “Teshuvah: A Jewish Case for Palestinian Refugee Return,” was published May 11, 2011, in Jewish Currents and can be found here. He writes of, “the bitter irony of Jews telling another people to give up on their homeland and assimilate in foreign lands. We, of all people, should understand how insulting that demand is. Jewish leaders keep insisting that, to achieve peace, Palestinians must forget the Nakba, the catastrophe they endured in 1948. But it is more accurate to say that peace will come when Jews remember. The better we remember why Palestinians left, the better we will understand why they deserve the chance to return.”

Founded in 1946, Jewish Currents is a magazine committed to the rich tradition of thought, activism, and culture of the Jewish left.

In July 2020, Beinart wrote on “A Jewish Case for Equality in Israel-Palestine.”

Beinart’s podcasts can be found at Beinart discussed his Jewish Currents and NY Times articles on Palestinian return in his weekly newsletter. You can subscribe to Beinart’s weekly newsletter on politics and foreign policy at

Beinart’s positions have evolved along with coverage of him and his writings as seen in these articles: and

In his weekly column, Beinart discusses how “respectable people have made respectable-sounding arguments on behalf of practices we now consider self-evidently immoral.” By ignoring Apartheid (whether in Israel or South Africa), people can make the oppressed victims seem like the problem. Read his argument at:


Posted on

April 1, 2022

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