The Crisis of Zionism Hardcover – Mar 27 2012
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An important new book that rejects the manipulation of Jewish victimhood in the name of Israel's domination of the Palestinians…. Important and timely for the future of Israel. (Roger Cohen, The New York Times)
Passionately argued. (David Remnick, The New Yorker)
Mr. Beinart has a book … called The Crisis of Zionism. Chapter five, on 'The Jewish President,' fully justifies the cover price. (Bret Stephens, The Wall Street Journal)
A terrifyingly frank account of our current state of affairs. (Andrew Sullivan)
Mr. Beinart thinks America's Jews must redeem both themselves and Israel by rededicating themselves to Israel's ethical character. . . . The sentiment is noble, and the message deserves to be heard. (The Economist)
An impressive achievement. (Alan Wolfe, The Chronicle of Higher Education)
[A] probing, courageous and timely book… [It] marks a significant evolution in the debate over Israel. (The National Interest)
A passionately argued work that will evoke intense debate. (Booklist)
An elegant, deeply honest look at the failure of Jewish liberalism in forging Israel as a democratic state… Straight talk by a clear-thinking intellectual with his heart in the right place. (Kirkus Reviews)
Peter Beinart has written a deeply important book for anyone who cares about Israel, its security, its democracy, and its prospects for a just and lasting peace.Beinart explains the roots of the current political and religious debates within Israel, raises the tough questions that can't be avoided, and offers a new way forward to achieve Zionism's founding ideals, both in Israel and among the diaspora Jews in the United States and elsewhere. (President Bill Clinton)
Peter Beinart has written the outstanding Zionist statement for the twenty-first century. The Crisis of Zionism is a courageously scathing critique of the sorry state of Zionism today and a clarion call to reaffirm the linkage of liberal values, Jewish commitment, and democratic practice that made the creation of the state of Israel possible and is the key to its moral and physical survival. (Naomi Chazan, former deputy speaker of the Knesset and president of the New Israel Fund)
Progress in the United States has most often occurred when patriotic Americans have insisted on facing our failures head on and holding us to our founding ideals. In that spirit, Peter Beinart has written a brave and important book about Zionism today. Anyone who loves Israel and wishes to see it survive must read this book. (Anne-Marie Slaughter, Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs, and former dean, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University)
The Crisis of Zionism is a must read for everyone who cares about the future of Israel. Peter Beinart makes a strong case for a vision of Zionism that encompasses ending the occupation of the West Bank and deepening Jewish education in America. Even if you disagree with him, you should still read this book. (Edgar M. Bronfman, president of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation)
If you are concerned about Israel's future, you should read this book. It will inform, provoke, and challenge you, as the author, with clarity and grace, lays out the looming dangers to Israeli democracy and appeals for a Jewish state that is both democratic and just to all, including its Arab minority. (Lee H. Hamilton, former Congressman and Vice-Chair of the 9/11 Commission)
About the Author
Peter Beinart is the author of The Icarus Syndrome and The Good Fight. A former editor of The New Republic, he is a senior political writer for The Daily Beast and the editor-in-chief of Open Zion, a blog about Israel and the Jewish future at thedailybeast.com. He is an associate professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York and a senior fellow at The New America Foundation. He lives with his family in New York City.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This is not solely a generational gap. As American Jews of all ages increasingly avail themselves of new opportunities to express their values through organizations that are not specifically Jewish, Beinart argues, the demographic that remains active in traditional Jewish organizations is more likely to subscribe to the old narrative of Jewish victimhood and survival against all odds. The establishment is increasingly "indifferent to whether democratic values" are maintained in the US and in Israel and is out of touch with the political opinions of the majority of American Jews. This has led former Israeli prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert to question whether Israel might become an "apartheid" state if the status quo continues.
The solution, as Beinart and many others see it, is the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. "Binationalism barely works in placid countries like Canada and Belgium," he writes. In Israel, he says, a binational, one-state solution would soon lead to civil war. A two-state solution stands a better chance of success: it has been the subject of Israeli/Palestinian negotiations before and has been endorsed by many external parties, including the current U.S. President and the Arab League.
Beinart convincingly argues that American Jews who wish to help Israel must acknowledge that power is not only something that can be used to survive victimization, but unfortunately is something that can be abused. The rich tradition of Jewish ethics can be embraced as a guide for a Jewish nation that has now achieved its own power.
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.
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.
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.