J Street U presents ‘Crisis of Zionism’ author

Author Peter Beinart. Photograph by Guillaume Gaudet.

Author Peter Beinart. Photograph by Guillaume Gaudet.

Peter Beinart, whose latest book predicts a breach between young U.S. Jews and Israel if that country maintains its current policies toward the Palestinians, speaks at 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, in the Edmund S. Muskie Archives, 70 Campus Ave.

Beinart’s talk is sponsored by the Bates chapter of J Street U, a national student activist organization promoting peace, security and social justice for Israelis and Palestinians. The event is open to the public at no cost.

Beinart is the author of The Crisis of Zionism, released in March by Times Books. In it, he argues that despite Israel’s many accomplishments, liberal Zionism faces a tremendous challenge. As Israel’s Jewish population continues to expand in the West Bank, the possibility of a two-state solution decreases, and the likelihood of Israel ceasing to remain a democratic Jewish state grows.

Equally concerning for Beinart is the possibility that as Israel fails to live up to its founding values, young progressive American Jews will fail to identify with this state founded to be the national home for the entire Jewish diaspora.

Beinart also offers a groundbreaking portrait of the two leaders at the center of the crisis: Barack Obama, America’s first “Jewish president,” a man steeped in the liberalism he learned from his many Jewish friends and mentors in Chicago; and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister who considers liberalism the Jewish people’s special curse.

Beinart is a senior political writer for The Daily Beast, associate professor of journalism and political science at City University of New York, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and the former editor of The New Republic. He has written for Time, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, The Boston Globe and The Atlantic.

His first book, The Good Fight: Why Liberals — and Only Liberals — Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again, was published by HarperCollins in 2006. His second book, The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris, appeared in 2010, also published by HarperCollins.