Peter Beinart: Bibi's Botched History Lesson

Roundup: Historians' Take

Peter Beinart, senior political writer for The Daily Beast, is associate professor of journalism and political science at City University of New York and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. His new book, The Crisis of Zionism, was published by Times Books in April 2012.

Benjamin Netanyahu loves history. And he loves deriding his critics for not understanding it as well as he does. In his address to the United Nations General Assembly last year, he attacked journalists for their weak grasp of past events, calling for a “press whose sense of history extends beyond breakfast.”

But while Netanyahu’s sense of history may extend beyond breakfast, he doesn’t remember events the way most historians do. Take his comments in this year’s U.N. speech, delivered yesterday, about the cold war. In his argument for why the United States and other world powers should draw a “clear red line” specifying when Iran’s nuclear progress would trigger military action, Netanyahu approvingly cited NATO, whose charter “made clear that an attack on one member would be considered an attack on all.” According to Bibi, “NATO’s red line helped keep the peace in Europe for nearly half a century.”...

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