Peter Beinart Strikes Again, Israel’s “Defenders” Cry Huckster
Apparently some people are angry at Peter Beinart again. Remember Beinart, famous for his 2010 New York Review of Books piece “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment.” I blogged about it here and here.
Well Beinart is now calling for a boycott of the settlements, for a clear distinction between “democratic Israel” and the occupied territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. He is leveling criticism at the Israeli government and the Israel lobby again. And his critics are angry. Again. They cast Beinart as a shameless self-promoter. I’m in no place to judge, but I met Beinart once, and he seemed perfectly nice to me. He spoke at NYU in front of a large crowd, and then had a smaller discussion with some students of the Hebrew and Judaic Studies department, including myself. I liked him.
And you know what? I don’t care if he’s a shameless self-promoter. Because he’s mostly right, and if he’s galvanizing Jews on the left to support J-Street, and endorse a peaceful two-state solution, then that’s a good thing. This piece, by Noah Millman, “How Israel is like an Alcoholic Mother,” expresses this sentiment well, though it’s actually a bit unfair to Beinart, who has been a committed Jew and Zionist his whole life.
But at the end of the day, again, I’d have to say that Beinart is right on Israel, wrong on American Jewish youth. Frankly, I wish more were critical of it, because at least that would show that they cared. But they don’t. Most young American Jews aren’t angry at Israel. They don’t care about Israel. They don’t visit it. They don’t read about it. They don’t think about it. Apathy and assimilation are the real enemies to the Jewish future in the Diaspora, not anything Israel does. A.B. Yehoshua gets this; Beinart doesn’t. And that, in some ways, is a far bigger problem.