Finally, finally, someone within mainstream Jewish journalism expresses disbelief at the disgraceful, bitter, ad hominem, unhinged mainstream media reviews of Peter Beinart's excellent little polemic, "The Crisis Of Zionism." JJ Goldberg's money quote:
One of Beinart’s key goals is to question the narrow parameters that communal leaders attempt to impose, with some success, on American Jewish discussion of Israel. The trouble is, those narrow parameters also preclude questioning the narrow parameters. Pushback was inevitable.
But that doesn’t explain the attacks’ venomous, ad hominem intensity. For that we must look to the general mood of panicked rage sweeping some segments of Israeli and American Jewry: the McCarthyite attacks in Israel on human rights organizations and the New Israel Fund, the attempts to keep J-Street speakers out of synagogues and to defund or shut down Israeli film festivals screening the wrong Israeli films. The legal threats against campus Arab student groups. The hounding of M.J. Rosenberg. It’s hard to remember such a dark mood of repression since the days of the enemies’ lists circulating in the community in the early 1980s.
Back then, Israel was giving back Sinai and the PLO was between bombings, quietly building its base in Lebanon. And today? It’s been five years since the last Palestinian suicide attack. They’re building a state from within and adopting nonviolent protest. Is the right panicking because the noose is tightening? It sounds crazy. I’m just saying.
As for explaining the participation of The New York Times and The Washington Post in this anger-fest, I’m stumped.
Perhaps the most dishonest McCarthyite review was written by Daniel Gordis. I have read the book. His review can only be explained as a deliberate act of grotesque misrepresentation, as Peter lays out in a response. But Gordis is at least not hiding behind bullshit like so many of his fellow travelers. He wants an Israel, dedicated to survival as a Jewish state by means of ethnic and religious cleansing. He is a proud tribalist: "Do we aspire to America’s ideal of a democracy? Not at all. We’re about something very different." Peter responds:
In his 2009 book, Saving Israel, he calls on Israeli Jews to seriously consider “population transfers” of their Arab neighbors. Perhaps, he muses, Arab countries might take in those Israeli Arab citizens that Israel expels. “Alternatively, perhaps the international community could raise sufficient funds and offer massive cash settlements to those Israeli Arabs willing to relocate.” Unlike Rabin, Gordis is not seeking to reconcile Jewish tribalism with democratic principle.
He is using the former as license to trample the latter in ways that should send chills down the spine of any morally sentient Jew.
Gordis's book won the 2009 National Jewish Book Award. For my part, my own explanation for the explosion of the American and Israeli Jewish Establishment is simple. Peter has exposed their moral and intellectual negligence – and their profound illiberalism. When such a grand emperor is revealed as naked, he tends to strike back.