Beinart, a former editor of The New Republic who now writes for TheDailyBeast.com, last month published a portentous essay of nearly 5,000 words in the New York Review of Books titled "The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment." To boil down his argument: Support for Israel has become unfashionable among young liberal American Jews, and it's the fault of old Jews. Beinart cites the results of a focus group of such young liberal Jews:
The only kind of Zionism they found attractive was a Zionism that recognized Palestinians as deserving of dignity and capable of peace, and they were quite willing to condemn an Israeli government that did not share those beliefs. . . . The only kind of Zionism they found attractive was the kind that the American Jewish establishment has been working against for most of their lives.
Beinart argues that Jews' "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, or what they have seen of Israel's. Yes, Israel faces threats from Hezbollah and Hamas. Yes, Israelis understandably worry about a nuclear Iran. But the dilemmas you face when you possess dozens or hundreds of nuclear weapons, and your adversary, however despicable, may acquire one, are not the dilemmas of the Warsaw Ghetto. The year 2010 is not, as Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed, 1938. The drama of Jewish victimhood--a drama that feels natural to many Jews who lived through 1938, 1948, or even 1967--strikes most of today's young American Jews as farce.
As he lectures his elders, it does not seem to occur to Beinart that the young liberal American Jews may be the ones who have it wrong--which we suppose is not surprising, since he is one of them...