I heard an interview with Peter Beinart on NPR last year and immediately downloaded his book to my kindle. Beinart, a former editor at The New Republic and an observant Jew whose family is active in Modern Orthodox circles, argues that the principles upon which the State of Israel were founded–principles of liberal democracy to be exercised according to enduring Jewish ethical principles–have been largely abandoned in favor of policies consistent with a non-democratic Revisionist Zionism articulated by Israali leaders such as Benjamin Netanyahu’s father. He further argues that the majority of American Jews whose values match more closely those of the founding liberal Zionists have remained largely indifferent or silent, allowing American foreign policy to be dictated by a small but wealthy and influential minority of right-wing Zionists from groups like AIPAC. He concludes that the only hope for an enduring democratic Jewish state in Israel is to work to change this situation, to support a democratic Jewish state within the green line, and to work equally hard to push Israel to reach an equitable two-state solution for Palestinians which would allow them a manageable state of their own outside the green line. In the course of his discussion, he paints fascinating portraits of Obama and Netanyahu and of their relationship through the time of the book’s writing. Central to his argument is also an analysis of the narrative of victimhood which has driven support for Israel and which lacks persuasive power with most younger American Jews.
Here is my briefer review on Goodreads (written last night when I finished the book and mostly just wanted to get some sleep!):
This book makes a passionate case for liberal American Jews to take seriously and act to combat the erosion of liberal values in the governmental policies of today’s Israel. He makes a persuasive argument that the country has strayed dangerously from the principles upon which it was founded, and that, through relative indifference and inaction, the liberal majority of American Jewry has ceded the community’s voice on the matter to a wealthy right-wing minority that powerfully influences American foreign policy. The book is an important wake-up call to the American Jewish community.
Updated score sheet for the year:
Around the World (goal: 52 total including at least 6 in each of 6 different regions) 3
Asia/Mideast: 1 (Israel)
Europe: 1 (England/UK)
Caribbean/Central America/North America: 1 (US)
Around the US (goal: 50 states, DC, and PR): 1 (NY)
1001 Books (goal 52): 2
A to Z challenge (must be completed in order 26 author last names A to Z then 26 titles A to Z–strategy is all!): 2
Authors: Auster, Beinart,