Beinart & Other Voices
05/25/2010 - 18:46
Jonathan Mark

One leftist Jewish blogger at a Jewish newspaper wrote, "I will be honest with you: I myself knew little about the specfics of Jerusalem's modern history until this spat," between the U.S. and Israel earlier in the spring, but he'll tell you his opinion anyway. Such is the state of modern Jewish journalism. Knowledge is nothing. Opinion is everything. Step right up, you don't need to know anything to play.

Imagine, you work for Sports Illustrated and you blog, "I myself knew little about the specifics of baseball, and I don't know modern baseball history, and I couldn't identify Willie Mays in a police lineup, let alone a baseball lineup, but I think games should be 6 innings long, with four outs per inning." That blogger would get laughed out of the SI office. But with Israel, you don't need to know Ahad Ha'am from Abu Mazen. That's OK, give us your opinion, kid, whack away.

Here's a link to Peter Beinart's essay in The New York Review of Books, and two other essays, one by Daniel Gordis and one by David Forman that came out before Beinart but whose points of view regarding the antagonism, ignorance and alienation of young liberal Jews elaborate on Beinart, and for the better.

As for Beinart, he keeps insisting that the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is a right-wing organization. In fact, among its organizations are such very liberal ones as Ameinu (“Liberal Values, Progressive Israel”), Americans for Peace Now, Association of Reform Zionists of America, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Hillel (which has sponsored "anti-apartheid weeks" referring to Israel)  Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, Mercaz (the Zionist organization of the Conservative movement), Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative), Union for Reform Judaism, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Women of Reform Judaism, and the Workmen’s Circle, among others.

Check out the whole list (and links) of organizations here.

If the Conference, which operates by consensus, concludes that supporting Israel’s government is the right thing to do, Beinart can hardly claim that liberal Jews had less of a say in formulating that consensus than do Orthodox voices or politically conservative ones.

Here's an interesting profile of Malcolm Hoenlein, the exec. vp of the Conference. And considering how much Beinart beats up on AIPAC, here's a link to AIPAC, "the pro-Israel lobby."

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In the Review article, Beinart claims that the Conference "patrol public discourse, scolding people who contradict their vision of Israel as a state in which all leaders cherish democracy and yearn for peace", "defending virtually anything any Israeli government does", "explained that Avigdor Lieberman’s agenda was “far more moderate than the media has presented it”", "announced that “biased NGOs include Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Christian Aid, [and] Save the Children”", and "avoid virtually all public criticism of Israeli actions—directing their outrage solely at Israel’s neighbors". He doesn't say it's a "right-wing organization", he just lists the things that he claims it does and which he claims will eventually lose the support of non-Orthodox Jews. If anyone wants to dig into this, they could look up the specifics of each of those quotes and verify whether or not they're true, and assess whether or not they're meaningful.