At the heart of The Crisis of Zionism, the new book by Peter Beinart, is a simple morality play. On one side there is the tradition of “liberal Zionism” in which Beinart was nurtured. That tradition, in his account, runs from Beinart’s hero, Stephen Wise, America’s leading reform rabbi in the Depression era and leader of the Zionist cause, through Israel’s socialist founders up to…Barack Obama. On the other side is the revisionist Zionism of Vladimir Jabotinsky now represented by Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and backed by a craven Jewish establishment here in America. What’s at stake in this epic struggle, Beinart would have us believe, is nothing less than the future of Israel’s democracy.Zionism in crisis? I think not. American hard lefty Jews in crisis, one of their own making, more like.
The novelist Toni Morrison dubbed Bill Clinton the “first black president.” Beinart, claiming the unique ability to read Barack Obama’s mind, dubs the current occupant of the White House “the Jewish president,” an idealistic liberal Zionist who began his term hoping to secure Israel’s future in a peaceful Middle East only to find himself blocked by a powerful political coalition consisting of the pro-Israel lobby and Netanyahu’s right-wing allies in Congress. Beinart imagines Stephen Wise showing up at a meeting in the Oval Office with the president and representatives of today’s Jewish establishment. Wise “would find only one person who espoused the liberal Zionism that he championed in his own time,” Beinart says. “And it would be the black man with the Muslim name: Barack Hussein Obama.”
In Beinart’s telling, Obama’s remarkable conversion to Zionism occurred during the 1990s when the future president was “embedded in the Jewish world” of Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood and came under the influence of Rabbi Arnold Wolf and other progressive Jews. It was these supposed “liberal Zionists” who guided Obama towards a “specific, and subversive, vision of American Jewish identity and of the Jewish state,” Beinart writes. No matter that during these same years Obama also cultivated friendships with notorious haters of Israel, such as Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the former Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, and University of Chicago professor and one-time PLO official Rashid Khalidi. Without offering evidence based on anything President Obama has actually said or written, Beinart just knows for sure that the influence of Obama’s Jewish neighbors was decisive in turning him into a liberal Zionist.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Peter Beinart's Magical Wishful Thinking
Abracadabra! In his new book, pseudo-Zionist Pete transforms Barack Hussein Obama into--wait for it--"a liberal Zionist." Commentary's Sol Stern attempts to unpack the asinine hocus-pocus: