by Doctor Science
Peter Beinart’s The Crisis of Zionism came out in the spring, but I only recently got a chance to read it -- supposedly it wasn’t all that popular, but it still took a while to work its way down to me on the public library waiting list.
The Crisis of Zionism may not have gotten much in the way of sales, but it sure generated a lot of heat. Andrew Sullivan did a pretty thorough job of tracking reviews and commentary about the book -- most of which was negative, to Sully's great disappointment.
My take: Beinart is talking about a real, critically important issue for Israel, Zionism, and the worldwide Jewish community:
In Israel, the deepening occupation of the West Bank is putting Israeli democracy at risk. In the United States, the refusal of major Jewish organizations to defend democracy in the Jewish state is alienating many young liberal Jews from Zionism itself.I think the book's greatest weakness is that Beinart mostly talks about the issue as a political problem, to be solved by political means. He doesn't spend enough time thinking about this as a religious or spiritual issue: the non-Orthodox majority of American Jews are finding Zionism-as-she-is-practiced less and less compatible with our beliefs about what we, as Jews, are called to do. American Jews are not becoming more secular, we are becoming more religious -- but in a different way than Israeli Jews.
I had intended to write and put up this post at the beginning of the Days of Awe, for seasonally-appropriate discussion, but it grew to be over 4000(!!) words long. By that point there wasn't time to have an actual discussion before I would have had to close the comments for Yom Kippur. So I'm posting it now, for an early start on *next* year's Days of Awe.
Be warned that I will be policing the comments with extra firmness -- I'm aware that this topic is one of the third rails of the Internet, with Godwin pre-installed. Historical comparisons had better be supported by historical evidence, not just by your feelings.
Four different shofar calls are sounded on Rosh Hashanah; you can hear them in this YouTube video. The Yom Kippur service ends with the long blast, Tekiah Gadolah, prefiguring the Last Trump of Judgment Day. If your shofar-blower is bald or nearly so, you'll see a wave of red (or even purple!) wash over his whole scalp for the last seconds of the call.