Crisis of Zionism

Peter BeinartControversial author Peter Beinart will be on campus Nov. 8 as this fall’s featured Jacob Perlow lecturer.

November 2, 2012

Peter Beinart, political writer and associate professor at the City University of New York, will be the featured speaker in this fall’s Jacob Perlow Lecture Series at Skidmore. The controversial author of a recent book called The Crisis of Zionism, Beinart will discuss the heated responses to his book and answer questions put to him by a panel. The event will take place at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, in Gannett Auditorium, Palamountain Hall, and is open to the public free of charge.

Beinart was the editor in chief of The New Republic magazine, which he took over in 1999 when he was only 28 years old. More recently he has been a staff writer for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. His book on Israel and the Middle East attracted national attention after an excerpt appeared in The New York Review of Books in 2010 under the title “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment.”

In his book, Beinart argues that the policies of the Israeli government—especially regarding the treatment of its Arab citizens and the government’s handling of the settlements that began to proliferate in Gaza and the West Bank after the Six-Day War in 1967—have been disastrous for its standing in the world. He argues, moreover, that major Jewish organizations in the U.S. have adopted what he calls an “Israel right or wrong” position, refusing to criticize Israeli policies, with the result that most liberal American Jews are no longer reliable supporters of Israel, and that things are bound to get much worse, in his opinion.

Though he contends, “I’m trying to live as a critic of Israeli policies inside the American Jewish community,” Beinart has been accused of “hating Israel”: In The Jerusalem Post, one critic wrote that Beinart’s “problem isn’t really with Israel. It’s with Judaism.” And yet Beinart’s book has been described as “indispensable” by Paul Krugman and Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times, by David Remnick of The New Yorker magazine, and by former President Bill Clinton, among many others.

At Skidmore Beinart will respond to questions put to him by Professor Robert Boyers, editor of Salmagundi magazine, and Professor Jennifer Delton of the Department of History. A reception and book signing will follow the discussion.

The event is part of the Jacob Perlow Lecture Series, presented under the auspices of the Office of the Dean of Special Programs.
 




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