Peter Beinart, the New Bad Boy of the American Jewish establishment for his essay on how the younger generation is becoming disenfranchised from Israel, acknowledged in an interview with The Jewish Week the other day that he was, in fact, describing part of a larger concern — namely a decreasing attachment to Judaism in general.
“That’s a fair charge,” said the former editor of The New Republic, who describes himself as a liberal Zionist, and belongs with his family to an Orthodox synagogue in Washington, D.C.
Given that last week's big Jewish news was Peter Beinart's criticism of the Jewish American establishment, I got up today wondering what he'd say about the Gaza flotilla attacks. Not so surprisingly, he had quite a bit to say, and posted his reaction on The Daily Beast.
Peter Beinart's essay "The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment" in The New York Review of Books argues that most of the mainstream American Jewish organizations have abandoned liberalism on the issues of the Middle East and are responsible for a generation of young Jews who hold no connection to Israel.
I'm fine with any critique of the Jewish establishment from serious Jews and serious journalists, people who deeply love Israel and disagree with its policies. Not acceptable, though, are the assimilationists and anti-Israel -- yes, let's call them that -- leftists who piggy-back on the legitimate Jewish left as a beard to cover their loathing of all things Jewish and Israeli. They are the ones who say they can't attend even the harmless. non-political Salute to Israel Parade or show the flag or even allow Ambassador Oren to speak, because of the mean ol' Israeli government.
Peter Beinart, the former New Republic editor whose strong critique of the American Jewish establishment in a New York Review of Books essay continues to reverberate in the community, says he has been pleasantly surprised by the responses he has received from pro-Israel critics
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Peter Beinart attends an Orthodox synagogue, once edited The New Republic (the closest thing to a smicha for Jewish policy wonks) and backed Sen. Joe Lieberman’s quixotic 2004 bid to become the first Jewish president.
Which is why he’s always been counted among the Washington pundits who defend Israel, Zionism and the right of American Jews to lobby for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
Beinart also frets about how Jewish his kids will be.
For young American Jews, it’s a long way from ‘Exodus’ to the separation wall.
In 1960, the film “Exodus” was nominated for three Academy Awards. Based on Leon Uris’ novel about the founding of Israel, it seems hard to believe that such a film, drenched in Jewish military heroism and suffused with Holocaust imagery and Arab aggression, could have such broad and unambiguous appeal. But it did. It not only won an Oscar, it also starred a Hollywood icon, Paul Newman, as the heroic Jewish fighter, and even made a commendable showing at Cannes.
But almost a half-century later, a very different film about Israel won an Oscar nomination. “Waltz With Bashir,” (2008) directed by the Israeli Ari Folman, put a spotlight on the massacres at the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps during the first Lebanon War.
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.