by Jack Ross, Antiwar.com, 26 April 2012
Since even before its release last month, Peter Beinart’s The Crisis of Zionism has been extravagantly denounced and praised. To his everlasting credit, Beinart has described in vivid and uncompromising terms the corrupting and corrosive impact of the American Jewish establishment he so courageously exposed in The New York Review of Books:
At the core of the tragedy lies the refusal to accept that in both America and Israel, we live in an age not of Jewish weakness, but of Jewish power, and that without moral vigilance, Jews will abuse power just as hideously as anyone else. American Jewish organizations do not deny that Jews wield power, privately, they exult in it. Emotionally, power is what groups like AIPAC sell…. They deny that Jews, like all human beings, can use power not merely to survive, but to destroy. A few years ago, a journalist reported that Malcolm Hoenlein, the influential executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, had a photo in his conference room of Israeli F-15s flying over Auschwitz. It is a photo of a fantasy. Israeli jets never bombed Auschwitz and never will. What they have bombed, in recent years, is the Gaza Strip, a fenced-in, hideously overcrowded, desperately poor slum from which terrorist groups sometimes shell Israel. Hoenlein, in other words, has decorated his conference room not with an image of the reality that he helps perpetuate, but with an image of the fantasy that he superimposes on that reality. In this way, he embodies the American Jewish establishment, which, by superimposing the Jewish past on the Jewish present, is failing the challenge of a new age.
Beinart has offered a powerful indictment of the American Jewish Establishment, to be sure, but he steadfastly refuses to challenge the very legitimacy of that establishment. For the one question that has not been asked is why its loss of the younger generation of American Jews should be regarded as a problematic development in the first place, much less a crisis.
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