It is true that many in the U.S. Jewish community are not happy with current Israeli policies. But in the face of countervailing trends, it is not clear this will change the community’s overall levels of attachment and support. By Brent E. Sasley In a recent op-ed in Haaretz, Bradley Burston argues that U.S. Jews are moving away from Israel because of the government’s illiberal domestic politics and intransigent foreign policies. He believes that by 2013 they may just “secede” altogether from a country doing things they don’t want done in their name. There are certainly signs pointing in that direction. Peter Beinart…Read More... | 49 Comments
Despite having an explicit anti-settlement position, J Street and Americans for Peace Now actively opposed the Presbyterian Church's efforts to divest from companies that profit from the occupation. By doing so, they are standing in the way of the Palestinian stride for freedom. By Naftali Kaminski and Michael Zigmond Undoubtedly, when Peter Beinart wrote his groundbreaking essay in 2010, "The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment," he did not foresee the events around this year’s 220th General Assembly in Pittsburgh of the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), but his analysis was proven right again. For months the entire Jewish establishment, both nationally and here…Read More... | 25 Comments
By publishing an op-ed whose sole purpose is to demonize the editor of The New Yorker, the Jerusalem Post is positioning itself in direct odds with liberal values - not to mention journalistic integrity. The Jerusalem Post ran an op-ed yesterday (Monday) by a writer and attorney from Washington, D.C. explaining why he is canceling his 50-year subscription to the New Yorker magazine. The poorly-argued and belligerent article directly implicates the magazine's editor of 14 years, David Remnick, for being "unabashedly anti-Israel," and personally attacks him as being unfit for the job and its salary since his "only previous editorial…Read More... | 17 Comments
"The Crisis of Zionism," appears to be a book about politics, history and ideology, but in fact it is a research into identity; the identity of a community and the identity of the author. It is a book about the construction, the de-construction and the effort to reconstruct an identity; it sheds light on forgotten historical political facts, while leaving out others; it invents a new narrative, but is by no means false, since such is the nature of all identity projects. In his groundbreaking work, "Imagined Communities," Benedict Andersen quotes French author Ernest Renan: "The essence of a nation…Read More... | 21 Comments
While Peter Beinart's latest book is well worth reading, his solutions come far too late and are likely to achieve little. I've recently finished reading Peter Beinart's controversial book, The Crisis of Zionism; admittedly I read it mostly to understand what the noise was all about. The book took heavy criticism, if by "criticism" you mean "ad hominem attacks," even before it was published. It was basically attacked by the entire Jewish establishment in the United States. Why? Because Beinart insists, as he did two years ago, on stopping to treat Israel as a special-needs child whose tantrums must be…Read More... | 17 Comments
In a piece recently published, Israel's Ambassador to Washington Michael Oren rejected claims regarding anti-democratic trends in his country, and compared the legal status of Palestinians in the West Bank to that of American citizens in Washington DC and the U.S. territories. A response. When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appointed Professor Michael Oren - a historian and researcher at the conservative Shalem institute, author of a popular book on the 1967 war - as his ambassador to Washington, he was probably hoping to capitalize on the latter's name-recognition and credibility, especially with the political establishment and the Jewish elites. And indeed,…Read More... | 32 Comments
The author of a new book describing a crisis in Zionism may not be telling us anything we didn't already know - but in tracing his own personal journey of his anguished relationship to Israel, Peter Beinart has touched a nerve no one in the American Jewish community can ignore. At a recent lecture in New York City about his new book The Crisis of Zionism, Peter Beinart was asked, among other things, what all the fuss – and specifically the vituperative fuss - about him and the subject of his writing. Indeed, the month of March was Beinart-madness, as…Read More... | 13 Comments
Three anecdotes from Peter Beinart's Crisis of Zionism reveal a lot on what can and what can't be said in Washington today "The Crisis of Zionism," Peter Beinart's new book on the Jewish establishment's transformation into a propaganda and lobbying arm for the occupation and the settlements, has a few fresh examples of Washington's double talk regarding the nature of Israel's control over the West Bank. It's something you often hear in private: Every diplomat who has visited Palestinian towns and villages and met with locals knows how bad things are, but it's impossible to discuss these issues in public…Read More... | 23 Comments
"It's much easier to sit at home and lob criticism through blogs and tweets, and post that this isn't changing the world overnight. But political change happens one step at a time...If you're sitting on the sidelines critiquing the runners, I have no respect for you. Get in the race, show you can run it faster, show you can get to the finish line, prove you have better ideas." -J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami Flush from the success of its third annual conference, J Street stands at tough crossroads. Its first two years of heady success as the receptacle…Read More... | 13 Comments
By Dr. Naftali Kaminski Dear friends, I was among the founding members of the J Street Chapter of Pittsburgh. I attended the two previous conferences and was very active in organizing and initiating events. Over the last year, I gradually grew disillusioned and a few months ago I decided not to continue my activism with J Street. I never thought of addressing this publicly but several exchanges with friends and supporters of J Street made me aware that I am not alone in my disillusionment, that others shared my concerns and doubts but were reluctant to comment publicly out of a concern…Read More... | 27 Comments
By Zoe Jick This week's provocative NY Times op-ed by Peter Beinart is already the subject of much controversy among those engaged in public debate about Israel and Zionism. Coming from a prominent academic voice of liberal Zionism, Beinart’s message pushes the boundaries of pro-Israel activism by maintaining his “devotion to the Jewish people” while allowing for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) in the occupied territory, or “undemocratic Israel.” His statements will incite backlash from the American Jewish community, many of whom protest BDS across campuses, co-ops and institutions nationwide. His call for locality-focused BDS aside, the op-ed’s most valuable lesson is…Read More... | 9 Comments
Israeli ambassador Michael Oren: Beinart 'beyond the Israeli mainstream,' his call to boycott settlements 'supported only by a marginal and highly radical fringe.' I reported here yesterday on Peter Beinart's op-ed in the New York Times, calling the American Jewish community to boycott Israel's settlements in the West Bank, and for American administration to stop the indirect funding of settlements through tax breaks to settlement products and organizations raising money for the settlements (this is just the most obvious way in which the United States is supporting in practice a policy that it appears to oppose, at least on a…Read More... | 28 Comments
I write a lot about the term "pro-Israel," since it is a highly-charged and problematic term used often with impunity. Regardless of what I think it means, it is clear that it is a subjective term that is often attempted to be passed off as an objective one. Even just saying that a working definition of "pro-Israel" is support for the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state is unclear and debatable and thus demands qualification. So it is important to be critical of its usage and continue to ask the questions: what does it mean to support Israel?…Read More... | 14 Comments
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