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The Crisis of Zionism
 
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The Crisis of Zionism [Kindle Edition]

Peter Beinart

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Review

""A deeply important book for anyone who cares about Israel."" ---President Bill Clinton

Product Description

Israel's next great crisis may come not with the Palestinians or Iran but with young American Jews

A dramatic shift is taking place in Israel and America. In Israel, the deepening occupation of the West Bank is putting Israeli democracy at risk. In the United States, the refusal of major Jewish organizations to defend democracy in the Jewish state is alienating many young liberal Jews from Zionism itself. In the next generation, the liberal Zionist dream—the dream of a state that safeguards the Jewish people and cherishes democratic ideals—may die.

In The Crisis of Zionism, Peter Beinart lays out in chilling detail the looming danger to Israeli democracy and the American Jewish establishment's refusal to confront it. And he offers a fascinating, groundbreaking portrait of the two leaders at the center of the crisis: Barack Obama, America's first "Jewish president," a man steeped in the liberalism he learned from his many Jewish friends and mentors in Chicago; and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister who considers liberalism the Jewish people's special curse. These two men embody fundamentally different visions not just of American and Israeli national interests but of the mission of the Jewish people itself.

Beinart concludes with provocative proposals for how the relationship between American Jews and Israel must change, and with an eloquent and moving appeal for American Jews to defend the dream of a democratic Jewish state before it is too late.



Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 596 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0805094121
  • Publisher: Times Books (March 27 2012)
  • Sold by: Macmillan CA
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006JJYT0S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #168,835 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  72 reviews
163 of 198 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for people who care about Israel March 27 2012
By MJ Rosenberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Two kinds of people will hate this book. The first is the political right which supports the occupation and believes it can be sustained forever.
The other is people who despise the very idea of Israel.
Peter Beinart is a Zionist. He opposes the occupation primarily (although not exclusively) because he believes it is destroying Israel. If there is one message that comes through in this book (I read a review copy)it is that Beinart wants the Israel he grew up on (one that he understands was far from perfect) to be there for his children.
He thinks that the continued occupation will ultimately either destroy Israel's soul or even its physical existence.
Those fears clearly drove him to write this book.
Reading it, I kept thinking of my father-in-law who survived the Holocaust and how much he worried that Israel's leaders would let it be destroyed.
He used to say, "These Jews from Poland and Russia figured out how to create a Jewish country from nothing. What did they know? But sitting in Warsaw and Lodz, they figured out how you create ministries and embassies and a whole government. They figured out how to build an army. But I'm afraid that their children aren't so smart. They take it for granted. They will lose it all unless they get smart."
That is what Beinart thinks too. An old Jewish soul in a young American man.
This book can change history. That is why it is creating such a ruckus. The noise you hear are the moans of those who are devoted to the status quo and worry that Beinart is challenging it.
It's a great book and a pleasure to read.
Not to sound too much like the late 1960's person I am, Beinart's plea reminds me of the quote Bobby Kennedy always invoked. I think it's Tennyson.

"Some people see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask "why not."

That is what Beinart is doing.

MJ Rosenberg
106 of 138 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and Important! March 29 2012
By Loyd E. Eskildson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Mr. Beinart's thesis is that Israel's deepening occupation of the West Bank is putting Israeli democracy at risk. Palestinians in the West Bank are subjects, not citizens; this has gone on for 44 years and it is to be expected that they react violently. Turkey only began shunning the Jewish state after Israel's 2009 war in Gaza and after Israeli troops killed 8 Turkish militants who tried to break Israel's blockade of the strip in 2010. Egypt's new leaders are not generally calling for Israel's destruction, but are angry that 30 years after the Camp David accords which called for Israel to grant Palestinians full autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel still directly controls most of the West Bank and has subsidized hundreds of thousands of its people to move there.

Israel's founders in their May 1948 'Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel' promised 'complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants.' Israeli forces, however, then proceeded to pillage Arab houses and killed protesting residents. About 700,000 Arabs left Palestine either voluntarily or were forced out, and they aren't allowed back in.

Israel's Arab citizens do have freedom of speech, assembly, and worship, sit in its Parliament, the Knesset, and on its Supreme Court. Arabs own less than 4% of Israel's land, but constitute 20% of the population. Soon they will outnumber the Israeli Jewish population. Israel spend 1/3 more per Jewish Israeli student than Arab Israeli student, and its flag obviously conflicts with Muslim religion. West Bank Palestinians are denied access to East Jerusalem, large parts of the West Bank, and the rest of Israel without a hard to obtain permit. Palestinians who violate Israeli law go before military courts where they are often held months or even years before trial, and less than 1% are found innocent.

Jewish settler attacks on Palestinians in the occupied territories are common - vandalizing Palestinian homes, burning their fields, beating the men. Few than 10% of these attacks result in even indictments. Palestinian attacks, on the other hand, result in massive manhunts, frequent village-wide curfews, sometimes bulldozing of homes - in addition to jailing.

A 2010 poll found 44% of Jewish Israelis believe Jews should not rent apartments to Arabs. Russian immigrants are particularly prone to anti-Arab racism - 77% of recent immigrants from the former USSR support encouraging Arabs to leave Israel, vs. 53% of Jewish Israelis. Young Jewish Israelis are more intolerant than their elders. A member of Netanyahu's government has proposed ethnically cleansing Palestinians from the West Bank.Others want to revoke the citizenship of Israel Arabs who won't swear loyalty to the Jewish state. Netanyahu has repeatedly equated the Palestinian bid for statehood with Nazism. Thirty-nine percent of Israelis consider Obama a Muslim.

In America, studies have revealed that non-Orthodox younger Jews, on average, feel much less attached to Israel than their elders. The rationale per Frank Lutz's work, is that they desperately want peace and see flaws in Israel. At the same time, AIPAC and Sheldon Adelson (multi-million political donor) work to undermine support for Palestine in the U.S. and also undermine the world's most respected international human rights groups that criticize Israel.

Bottom-Line: Mr. Beinhart's work is courageous and deserves close attention. It also makes it clear why the U.S. is so despised for its support of Israel.
73 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant As Always Mr. Beinart March 27 2012
By Omar Chavez - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Ive always liked Beinarts books. I first read "The Icarus Syndrome" and was impressed by that book. I have read Crisis of Zionism and enjoyed it as well. The fundamental problem with Israeli policy, is the Government tends to be more Right Wing and Hawkish than the average Israeli cares to be. American Foreign Policy towards Israel tends to be even more right wing and hawkish as well. Peter Beinart wants to have a philosophical and moral discussion in this book and it delivers. Although close minded fundamentalists will automatically denounce the book and begin the slander against Mr. Beinart (waiting for the self hating Jew comments),sometimes people need to be dragged into reality kicking and screaming. This book won't fundamentally change Zionism in the short term but Losing battles still need to be fought.
55 of 71 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A shallow book May 18 2012
By S. Spilka - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Peter Beinart knows a lot about Zionism in America.
He knows little about Israel and Israelis.
I don't oppose his argument that the settlements should be reigned in. Nor do I argue with his portrayal of Bibi.
What I protest is his unfamiliarity with Israelis' DNA.
The review of his book in the NYRB added much needed details of the cruelty of the occupation. For example: "In mid-January the civil administration sent its bulldozers...to demolish the ramshackle hut of Halima Ahmad al-Hadhalin, a Palestinian widow with nine orphaned children living in the deeply impoverished site of Umm al-Kheir, adjacent to the large and constantly expanding settlement of Carmel in the south Hebron hills. The bureaucrats claimed that the shack was built without a permit, which is no doubt true; Palestinians living in the West Bank 'Area C,' i.e., under full Israeli control, only very rarely receive a permit to build from the committee, largely composed of settlers, that oversees such requests."
Such stories are totally lacking in Beinart's book. How can anyone write about "The Crisis of Zionism" without writing about Israel? I just don't understand that.
If he knew anything about Israel, Beinart would have known that, as NYRB states, "[buried] somewhere inside all this is a bad Israeli conscience about the treatment of Palestinians since 1948--a conscience repressed but still somehow alive..." This is one of the most prescient comments about Israelis. They used to talk (in cafes, around the dinner table, in lectures) about the political situation--non-stop. That was the conversation of the day, punctuated by hourly news announcements that could be heard even on buses. They don't talk so much about politics these days--at least not in Tel Aviv. Confusion and apathy have taken over, perhaps despair. Furthermore, Israelis are not very introspective; they rarely talk about feelings. My hunch (perhaps no more than a hunch) is that they fear that introspection might lead them to what they cannot talk about, or even admit to themselves, the evils of the occupation. I suspect that Israelis fear that introspection, even of personal feelings far removed from politics, would land them right in the midst of a smoldering national conscience, and they simply won't know how to deal with it. One needs to understand, or at least try to understand, the Israeli psyche before writing about the crisis of Zionism. What Israelis say is not at all what they feel, or think, in the depth of their being. And I suspect they themselves don't know what they think or feel. Of course there are exceptions, but those exceptions live perhaps in the newspaper "Haaretz," which is the only humanist paper that managed to survive in Israel. Read Ma'ariv or Yediot Achronot and you'll see what I mean.
My credentials? I was born in Israel, eighth generation in Eretz Yisrael. I left for America in 1980. I know Israel and I know America, as much as anyone can know a country. But I do know, or sense, when a country goes off the moral rails. And, sadly, both America and Israel are doing it now.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great help to Evangelical Christians who are often none too clear ... April 3 2014
By T. Eggebeen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Beinart's book asks all the right questions as he lifts up the founding principles behind Zionism and the quest for a Jewish Homeland.

For many evangelical christians, thoughts about the "end times and the return of Jesus" have been linked to rebuilding the temple and a subsequent war involving the US and Russia - it's all rather murky, but the upshot of it has been a fanatical support of (the State of) Israel in its campaign against the Palestinians and its settlement policies. Evangelical christians see this as a means whereby God's hand can be forced by events, Jesus will return in power and glory to clean things up, and the Millennium will ensue, wherein christians will sit on thrones and rule the world, with everyone converted to Christianity, or else.

Evangelical christians have confused the biblical stories of Israel - the Exodus, the Conquest with Joshua, and the expanding kingdom, what with kings Saul, David and Solomon - with the current State of Israel, blinding themselves to 1) the original vision of the Zionist founders and 2) the brutal policies now in place. Evangelical christians, enthralled with these ideas of power and glory, support all things Israeli, raise tremendous amounts of money and hamstring American efforts to be a peace-broker.

I'm at least grateful that there are plenty of progressive christians who see things differently, but for now, the alliance between American Jews and evangelical christians is a potent force for the State of Israel's continuing war of aggression against the Palestinians.

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