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Jewish Book Festival Boycotts Peter Beinart

Beinart gets a taste of his own wrong medicine

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Peter Beinart(Center for American Progress)

Last we heard from Peter Beinart, the prophet of liberal Zionism was trying to convince American Jews that a tougher tack needed to be taken with Israel and its settler enterprise. The many, many critics of Beinart’s book, The Crisis of Zionism, rightly argued that Beinart had focused his efforts too shrilly and too myopically on the settlers and not on, say, the threats against Israel (manifested by rocket fire from Syria, Gaza, and Egypt this week alone) as well as the Palestinian rejectionism that have doomed peace efforts.

The biggest uproar was reserved for Beinart’s call for a “Zionist” boycott of the settlements, the products made there, and even how we refer to the geographical area.

“Instead, we should call the West Bank ‘nondemocratic Israel,’” Beinart wrote in a Times op-ed lifted from his book.

It was a strategy so benumbingly ill-considered that even his allies at the liberal pro-Israel group J Street had to distance themselves from it. As it turns out, Jews aren’t much in favor of boycotts on others Jews and Beinart has largely squandered his credibility on the topic with the Jewish establishment he means to persuade. (For a great look at Beinart, I recommend Allison Hoffman’s piece here.)

Nevertheless, Beinart, whose solicitude for Israel’s long-term democratic health is genuine, forges on, writing about Israel on his Daily Beast blog “Open Zion” and speaking about liberal Zionism. One of the stops on his speaking tour was meant to be the Atlanta Jewish Book Festival, a two-week event that invites over 50 authors (and Tony Danza) and draws nearly 10,000 presumably literate people to read and kibitz and be challenged by controversial Jewish topics.

Then this news came in last night:

But after some members complained, the [Marcus] center canceled his event. Even though another Jewish group rescheduled his talk, the center’s decision prompted boycott threats, criticism from rabbis and charges of censorship.

While it’s clearly the right thing that the talk has been rescheduled, it is unsettling that the Atlanta Jewish Book Festival sponsorship has been removed. Many may disagree with Beinart’s views, but he must given the chance to speak, especially at an event that heralds the literacy and independent thinking of Jewish people. The new Beinart event has sold out and I am confident that the people who attend will be able to make up their own minds about his views and be more conversant in the crucial issues because of it.

Of course, the biggest irony here is that the forces hoping to deny Beinart a stage are falling for the same phony prescription that Beinart ordered himself when he called for a boycott of the West Bank. Instead of boycotting, we should be talking to the settlers. And to Beinart. And to each other.

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You write, “Nevertheless, Beinart, whose solicitude for
Israel’s long-term democratic health is genuine, forges on, writing
about Israel on his Daily Beast blog “Open Zion” and speaking about
liberal Zionism.” That’s quite a leap of faith on your part.

Based on the book, his talks (yep I went to one and decided for myself) and his website, Beinart’s concern is more for Beinart than Israel. His goal is to become the leading voice of American Jewish liberalism but he went too far. If he is so sincere, why doesn’t he just take that book advance and donate it to Jewish charities? He more than anyone coalesced and energized the far left BDS movement and politicized Israel in the US. Yes, you have made a conclusion that he is truly concerned based on….well, little.

Hoisted by his own petard.

What cowardice. If one doesn’t want to hear it one just cuts it off dead altogether.

jacob_arnon says:

Cowardice means giving in to those who would help destroy
the Jewish State.

People like Yevka should be quarantined the way one does an internet
virus.

jacob_arnon says:

The 972 linkd isn’t about Beinart and the book festival. It’s about Yevka’s antisemitric obsession with Zionism.

jacob_arnon says:

Cowards are those who don’t stand up to antisemites.
This means Beinart as well as Yevka.

The article says that in denying Beinart a forum to speak in the Jewish community, the author “gets a taste of his own wrong medicine.” Actually, part of Beinart’s thesis is that the Jewish Establishment is alienating progressive young Jews by stifling debate, and what does the JCC leadership do in response to complaints from unidentified but presumably influential and possibly well-heeled donors but stifle debate and cause public embarassment. If you don’t like what an author has to say, then don’t listen to him, or better yet refute him or debate him. But don’t censor him. Plenty of American Jews — and Israelis — agree with some of what he has to say and are willing to hear him out even if they don’t agree with everything he says. Since Beinart doesn’t censor anyone, saying he “gets a taste of his own medicine” is nonsense.

The article says that in denying Beinart a forum to speak in the Jewish community, the author “gets a taste of his own wrong medicine.” Actually, part of Beinart’s thesis is that the Jewish Establishment is alienating progressive young Jews by stifling debate, and what does the JCC leadership do in response to complaints from unidentified but presumably influential and possibly well-heeled donors but stifle debate and cause public embarassment. If you don’t like what an author has to say, then don’t listen to him, or better yet refute him or debate him. But don’t censor him. Plenty of American Jews — and Israelis — agree with some of what he has to say and are willing to hear him out even if they don’t agree with everything he says. Since Beinart doesn’t censor anyone, saying he “gets a taste of his own medicine” is nonsense.

Censorship within the Jewish establishment is always disturbing–a sign that they are ever more estranged from most Jews in this country. And a significant number of Jews (in Israel too) support Beinart.

Cowardice? Sort of like what Beinart is doing to Jews he does not agree with except that he’s not just preventing them from attending a book festival, he’s trying to deprive them of their livelihood. All Jews deserve a voice, but there’s cosmic justice in Beinart getting a taste of his own medicine.

Beatrix17 says:

Adam, this is a very thoughtful article, and I agree with you. I’m going to have to up my assessment of both your IQ and your age.

Jeffrey, I didn’t write that he should not be allowed to speak. However, I think it is helpful when he does that someone who has a different viewpoint should be allowed to counter Beinart’s (in my opinion) flawed thinking. As others note here, it is ironic that Beinart is boycotted when that is exactly what he seeks we do to others. Regarding your point that the “Jewish Establishment” is alienating “progressive” young Jews, how is it that opposing BDS alienates them? Surely you are not suggesting that one cannot disagree with someone to avoid alienating them. The young are often, and yes, may want to be, alienated from the Establishment. That said, I agree with you that more has to be done to listen to and include young Jews. But putting hundreds of Jews and Palestinians out of work, and causing permanent trauma to them and their young children, should not be a way to include “progressive” Jews.

Beatrix17 says:

I think Beinart wanted
to be part of the new world order that Obama was introducing to
America. (So does Friedman, but he’s a little old). Peace in our
time, recapture Europe’s love affair with the Kennedy’s, dress
Michelle like Jackie, and because Obama had a Muslim father, all
Obama had to do turn on the charm that won over America, and the
Mideastern nations would love him, too.

It didn’t work. It
really didn’t work. Now Beinart and other Obama followers are hoping
that the 2nd time round, Obama will redeem himself and their faith in him. They can’t
believe that as President, Obama was mostly charisma and very little
substance. It’s as though they were promised Disneyland and wound up
in their own unmowed, weed infested back yards.

Were it a simple matter of boycotting products manufactured in the territories, I might have been in favor of doing just that. However, if the object is to punish those who use the favorable conditions the Israeli government gives “settler commercial” projects, that would be understandable only if the people engaging in the boycott could be certain that they are boycotting the right products. Many people wanting to do the “right thing” are simply not sophisticated enough to know the difference between Benyamina and Har Gilo, and could be inflicting economic hurt on innocent communities. Another inaccurate assumption of such a boycott is that for many “settlers” it wasn’t an ideological decision but a simple economic decision made because it was the only way to get proper housing and community. On a visit to Israel, I was offered the use of an apartment in Ma’aleh Adumim, and I didn’t realize I was in the “territories” for nearly a week. I’ve subsequently heard from nearly all Israeli sources that it is “inevitable” that any peace treaty would give Ma’aleh Adumim to Israel.

However, there is no doubt that Ma’aleh Adumim has production facilities, and a boycott of them is — in many Israeli viewpoints from right to left — unjustified treatment for such a community. So I differ with Beinart on the matter of boycott simply because it is too complicated to implement equitably. However, as the negotiations for peace remain inactive, and because peace can only be preceded by negotiations, the world will more and more see the Palestinians as the David, and Israel as the Goliath. Just as this world opinion forced other countries to make drastic changes, it can happen to Israel, and under those conditions, Israel will not find the favorable results it would have were it to negotiate without this international coercion. Like Beinart, I favor negotiations and a two-state solution.

Don’t just ban him from speaking at the Jewish Book Festival … Burn his books like Hitler did … Send him off to a concentration camp … Start making lists of people you hate … Watch them disappear in the night … censureship is a very slippery slope.

Poupic says:

At lest one town has good Jews, Atlanta!

fred capio says:

denying a venue is not censorship

fred capio says:

Chandler
“we should be talking to the settlers. And to Beinart. And to each other”
are you not embarrassed to write sentences like that???

fred capio says:

censorship and boycott are twin-brothers. how can you not see that?

Jacob your moral cowardice is your benighted badge of honor.

But the Palestinians have stated over and over again their objective – the destruction of Israel. What is there to negotiate? Leftists don’t make any sense. It’s like reading Mein Kampf in the 1930s and being shocked the Holocaust ever happened. Come on – it’s in black and white. The Palestinians have always felt this way. So in 1948, which settlements which you have boycotted on their behalf?

You mean Tel Aviv?

Beinart is a proponent of BDS. When it’s turned back on him he cries about.

jacob_arnon says:

So says the BRAVE YEVKA, the wanna be paper Eichmann who wouldn’t there show his antisemitism in public under his own name.

COWARD.

jacob_arnon says:

The real cowards are those like Yevka who make common cause with eliminationists antisemites.

jacob_arnon says:

mk is short for nkvd.

Bet this guy is another psued for Yevka, the cowardly antisemite.

EA berlin says:

i am so bored with these discussions. american jews seem too distant from the lives of israelis and as usual discuss and dissect every possible angle of zionism and israel. and israelis, that is myself (i’m not living in israel nor the US), are frustrated by the gap between american intellectualism and the every day life in israel and, of course, by the crazy state the state is in. i think this will go on forever and so i am just adding my nihilistic view on this boring topic once again. this has been the problem of filmmakers and film theorists, for example, forever. this gap between what is actually going on and needs to be done and how, and the theory and dissection and interpretations of that material. people never find the middle ground it seems…

No it’s about your blindness and unkindness.

Smears are not a credible argument.

What exactly is it that you’re standing up for? Collaring conversation and discourse?

jacob_arnon says:

I’m am replying to your mindless non sense.

jacob_arnon says:

Tony Benn is a discredited antisemitic supporter of Totalitarian and antisemitic Hamas.

Yevka the bigot never seems to get excited when Hamas helps launch rockets at Jewish civilians, only when Jews fight back.

Take you shit, Yevak to some Nazi website, that’s where it belongs.

jacob_arnon says:

Berlin, another European bigot pretending to speak as “what?” A “humanist?” A “European humanist?”

Take care the crazy state of life in most of Europe where nazis are elected to office before you criticize the US?

What do you know about “the states?”

jacob_arnon says:

It’s about your defense of this, Jew hating bigot.

“• Two men and a woman, who was pregnant, were killed when a Hamas rocket struck a residential building in Kiryat Malachi.”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/rockets-rain-down-on-south-after-israel-launches-operation-pillar-of-defense/

1… I have no idea who Yevka is.

2… I am not an anti-Semite

3… I have no idea what NKVD
stands for.

Here is what I do know: Peter Beinart was invited to speak at the
Atlanta Jewish Book Festival, to discuss his new book “The Crisis in
Zionism”. However, after some of the Altakaka’s at the
Marcus Jewish Community Center read his book, they besieged the management, and
since they are the source of charitable giving that supports the Center, he was
dis-invited. His crime ? Not speaking 100 percent positively about
Israel.

When have you ever known 10 Jews
to be in one room and have the same opinion ?
That is our strength. We voice
our opinion, agree to disagree, and then eat dinner. If you want to walk in lock-step, join the
Tea Party or sign a petition by Grover Norquist.

I will paraphrase from Jay
Bookman’s column in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, 11/14/2012. Read the whole column if you want his full
story.

… Beinart speaks to Jewish
audiences all the time, at synagogues and community centers, and has never been
disinvited… He has been invited to speak in Israel… So he can say these things
in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, but not at the Atlanta Jewish Book Festival…

And here is another hypocrisy of the
Atlanta Jewish Book Festival. This year
they invited Tony Danza to speak about his new book. Don’t get me wrong. I think Tony is great. But the criteria of this Book Festival has
always been — for the past 20 years — … A Jewish author, writing about a
Jewish subject. Tony does not fit either
category. But… he is famous, and will bring in big
crowds of ticket buyers. So this year,
the name has been changed to The Atlanta Book Festival. They sold out for the big bucks.

I stand by what I said
earlier. When you start disinviting /
banning free speech and books, you are destroying the foundations of our
democratic society that we fought so hard to create. Censorship is a slippery slope.

jacob_arnon says:

Yevka’s Jew hatred is the worst argument of all. As evidenced by his irrelevant posts and links.

jacob_arnon says:

“When have you ever known 10 Jews
to be in one room and have the same opinion ? ”

I have never seen 10 people of any ethnicity, religious persuasion in a room to express the same opinion on any issue.

Pam Green says:

“dress Michelle like Jackie” – so true!

Pam Green says:

It’s a shame that the book festival caved and re-invited him. Beinart’s gotten more publicity, more fame and money than he deserves. His ideas are not profound or original. He’s not motivated by concern for Israel. He’s paid by Israel’s enemies, and serves an important function for them because he’s Jewish and for no other reason.

Adam’s main point seems to be that Jews have to allow their enemies a platform to spew their dangerous rhetoric because Jews are upholding an important principle. Truth is, there’s nothing high-minded about it. It’s a form of arrogance.

EA berlin says:

no, i live here because tel aviv is too expensive, not because i’m a humanist. you are doing it again, see? putting me/us in a box, a symbol.
i rest my case.

fred capio says:

I could not agree with you more. ..and Chandler is naive, sanctimonious and condescending.

fred capio says:

Beinhart calls for BOYCOTTing the settlements because he sympathizes with the idea of a Jew-free Palestine. Beinhart was UNINVITED from a privately financed event. There is a difference in magnitude that escapes so many liberals

jacob_arnon says:

So you say. Can you verify who you are, “Berlin?”

Finally some Jewish-Americans who don’t live with their head up their tuchas….

EA berlin says:

אם אתה יודע לקרוא עברית אז תבין שאתה מבלבל במוח. אני ישראלי וגר בברלין ולא מעניין אותי הפוליטיקה המנותקת של יהודי ארה”ב גם אם הם תומכים בישראל. עייפתי, זה משעמם כל כך שזה בלתי אפשרי להבין יותר. אז תחסוך ממני את השטויות האלה ושיהיה יום נעים.

jacob_arnon says:

גם אני יכול לכתוב
בעברית. מה זה אומר? זה אומר לי איפה אתה גר, מי אתה? אם אתה שונא
אמריקאים כל כך הרבה למה אתה כותב פה

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Jewish Book Festival Boycotts Peter Beinart

Beinart gets a taste of his own wrong medicine

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