Those concerned “About Israel, Palestine, and the Jewish future” can read Zion Square, a new blog at The Daily Beast edited and founded by Peter Beinart. Beinart’s blog, which is harshly critical of Israel, is intended to change the “official Jewish discourse about Israel” – this from a self-proclaimed “Zionist.”
Supportive of the “two-state” solution, this passionate New Yorker has already shown his stripes with the publication of his previous controversial books “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment”, and “The Crisis of Zionism” which highlights the importance of Liberalism – and his perception that tensions between liberalism and Zionism will tear the two apart. Beinart has written “saving liberal Zionism in the U.S.- so that American Jews can help save liberal Zionism in Israel – is the great American Jewish challenge of our age.” Not intermarriage/assimilation or the Iranian threat – but American Jews helping to save liberal Zionism in Israel is the greatest challenge? Recently merged with Newsweek, The Daily Beast is a major American news reporting and opinion website – and why they would allow this blog by an extreme leftist is beyond comprehension. Beinart’s values are not at all reflective of American Zionism or Judaism.
The Daily Beast wouldn’t feature a blog written by an African American journalist on why affirmative action should be abolished, civil rights legislation overturned, and minorities exempt from unemployment benefits. Nor does it feature a “feminist” blog opining on why abortion should be made illegal, sexual harassment permitted, and pregnancy leave at work banished. Beinart’s values are not at all reflective of American Zionism or Judaism – Absurd, and yet The Daily Beast prominently features Beinart’s “Zionist” blog devoted to Israel bashing as if those sentiments are somehow reflective of Zionism or American Jews. Owing a PR agency active in the pro-Israel community I’d be happy to provide them with plenty of actual leaders, or reporters indicative of the pro-Israel American Zionist community. Beinart is well outside the consensus.
Beinart shares that: “Zion Square’s mission is to launch a conversation not just about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not just about the specter of war with Iran, not just about the relationship between Israel and diaspora Jews, not just about Jewish theology and culture, but about the struggle to confront the ethical responsibilities of a world in which Jewish fortunes have radically changed.” Perhaps in Beinart’s Ivy League birthplace of Cambridge, Massachusetts, or his college at Yale or post-grad work at Oxford, or raising his children on the elitist Upper East Side there is a “struggle to confront the ethical responsibilities of a world in which Jewish fortunes have radically changed.” When reporting on the relationship between Israel and diaspora Jews, will any Jews from Arab countries be included in that dialogue? Will the largest Jewish organization worldwide, Chabad have representation when blogging on “Jewish theology”? The answers are clear – In Beinart’s “conversation,” as of now comments aren’t accepted, and the extreme, liberal organization Americans for Peace Now will supply a daily summary of the Hebrew-language press.
Beinart claims that “obsession with victimhood lies at the heart of why Zionism is dying among America’s secular Jewish young. It simply bears no relationship to their lived experience…” With American Jewish assimilation at upwards of 60 percent, secular Judaism is dying – and Beinart can more accurately reflect the Jewish experience by leaving Park Avenue to visit synagogue ruins in the Arab World, or Europe where Antisemitism is rampant to learn about how “Jewish fortunes have radically changed”.
Beinart has stated his concern over answering “..the question of what it means to live an ethical Jewish life in an age of Jewish power.” These values are reflected by him accepting an award by J Street, the purported “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization described by Alan Dershowitz in the following terms, “..J Street has done more damage to Israel than any [other] American organization,” and “..It has made a generation of Jews ashamed to be pro-Israel, and has made it politically correct among young people to single out Israel to a double standard and for fault.” Beinart furthers that concept, and his blog will help Israel as much as J Street has.
Beinart has previously claimed that young, non-religious Jews are forced to make a choice between liberal/democratic values and supporting Israel, writing, “Among American Jews today, there are a great many Zionists, especially in the Orthodox world, people deeply devoted to the State of Israel. And there are a great many liberals, especially in the secular Jewish world, people deeply devoted to human rights for all people, Palestinians included. But the two groups are increasingly distinct.” Beinart’s is right, Zionism/Judaism are increasingly distinct from liberalism – but there is nowhere in the Torah, or in any precept of Judaism that proclaims liberalism to be more important than Judaism? Liberals like Beinart simply can’t accept that Judaism doesn’t delineate that Jews need to be victims. Is “peace” more important than survival? Norman Podhoretz, author of Why Jews are Liberals, said it best: “..in virtually every instance of a clash between Jewish law and contemporary liberalism, it is the liberal creed that prevails for most American Jews. This is to say that for them, liberalism has become more than a political outlook. It has for all practical purposes superseded Judaism and become a religion in its own right.”
This sickness permeates in the name of Jews because Beinart happens to be Jewish. Despite his over-inflated ego and that his opinions are well outside the consensus of the American Jewish community (organizations and leadership), he thinks the American Jews (and millions of voters in Israel) need a Park Avenue Jew to come and “save liberal Zionism in Israel.” While thankfully America is a country where Jews have seen successes- New York is not “Zion Square.” Thankfully, Zion Square remains in the center of Jewish life – Israel.
I formerly served as National President of the Betar Movement – a great Zionist movement founded by Ze’ev Jabotinsky (of whom a picture appears on the front page of Beinart’s blog.) Jabotinsky is the father of the Revisionist Zionist Movement (today the ruling Likud Party). Jabotinsky famously said “Journalists are the ruling class in the world,” and “There is no other work in the world more splendid than the work of the journalist. The role of the journalist in the field of humanities is like the function of the circulatory system in the body or the role of commerce in international economy.” The value Jabotinsky attached to writing can be seen in an excerpt from the newspaper Hazit Ha’am (The National Front) where he wrote a reaction to the popular slogan: “We have no need for words, give us actions!” “The crowd forgets one thing: speaking is also a form of action; perhaps the most powerful of all other deeds. Cities have been and will be destroyed, but what “shouters” (the people of Israel) proclaimed in the desert thousands of years ago is still actual and vibrant. The world was created by the word, and it will be perfected by a word.”
Thankfully, as Jabotinsky wrote many years ago, that which was “proclaimed in the desert thousands of years ago is still actual and vibrant. The world was created by the word, and it will be perfected by a word.” But it’s not the word of Beinart – whose “Zion Square” is a misguided effort that will bear little impact on the Jewish community. ‘The word’ remains the actions of a strong, proud Jewish people and State of Israel. Words and actions of the Torah and of the proud and strong Israel Defense Forces. These words and actions are far stronger than the distorted pleading of Beinart and his ilk that bow down to their lord of liberalism.
Beinart is a shame to the Jewish community – a self-hating Jew. Beinart doesn’t represent the Jewish community any more than a black member of the KKK would represent African-Americans.
Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5WPR, a Top 25 PR Agency and author of Amazon best-selling PR book “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations.” The book was referred to by Likud Knesset MK Danny Danon as the “best book ever written regarding Israel’s PR.”