Assault on Beinart begins with poll claiming young American Jews love Israel

ActivismIsrael/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
on 42 Comments
images 3 2
Peter Beinart author of The Crisis of Zionism

A key point of Peter Beinart’s 2010 attack on The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment, which comes out in expanded book form in a month, is the idea that many young liberal American Jews are “alienated” from Zionism. Beinart referred to surveys by pollster Frank Luntz and sociologist Steven Cohen among others.

Well guess what? They are no longer alienated!

I was reading a seriously hysterical critique of Beinart’s new book The Crisis of Zionism at Sheldon Adelson’s Israeli newspaper and noted a strange statistic on American Jewish youth based on a survey sponsored by The Israel Project (TIP) and the American Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE). 

Mitchell Bard is Executive Director of AICE. He cites a survey by Public Opinion Strategies (POS), a Republican polling firm, that completely contradicts Beinart’s sources. Bard reveals the findings in the Jerusalem Post: ‘ Young Jews are Pro-Israel ‘:

The nationwide poll of 400 Jewish college students sponsored by the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise and The Israel Project found:

· 90% agree that Israel is the spiritual center of the Jewish people.
· 83% said caring about Israel is an important part of being Jewish.
· 73% said American and Israeli Jews share a common destiny.
· 89% have warm/favorable feelings toward Israel.
· 78% sympathize with Israel vis-a-vis the Palestinians.
· 84% think America should support Israel.

That’s a far cry from Beinart’s sources:

  [M]any professing “a near-total absence of positive feelings.”

As positive editorial reviews are stacking up for Beinart, the groundwork is being laid to slam The Crisis of Zionism from all angles. A major brouhaha erupted when NYT’s new Jerusalem bureau chief, Jodi Rudoren, gave it thumbs up and we can expect a lot more where that came from.  The battle lines are drawn for an extended fight. 

Rust never sleeps.

P.S. Don’t forget Isi Leibler’s review at Israel Hayom. It’s so bad it’s funny: “Netanyahu is portrayed [by Beinart] as the devil incarnate”.  How camp is that?

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

Other posts by .

Posted In:

42 Responses

  1. Bill in Maryland
    February 22, 2012, 8:58 am

    Thanks Annie. Mr. Beinart should fasten his seatbelt- it is going to be a stormy book tour next month. The more the “liberal Zionists” like Beinart are publicly slammed by the likes of Isi Leibler & Sheldon Adelson the further to the left they will be driven, further undermining their belief in Zionism itself. Bring on the fight!

    • Annie Robbins
      February 22, 2012, 9:41 am

      i like your spirit bill!

      here’s something amusing i noticed poking around. Public Opinion Strategies isn’t your run of the mill everyday polling place. they specialize in results that aim to please. maybe they should be named strategies for changing public opinion.

      link to

      “a trusted collaborator”

      “But what we pride ourselves on is when a campaign is trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B — and the message is the necessary way to do that — that’s what we do well.”

  2. Bill in Maryland
    February 22, 2012, 9:08 am

    Off topic, but the concert cancellation by jazz singer Cassandra Wilson, who had been scheduled to headline the Women’s Festival in Holon (inside ’48 Israel), is good news for the cultural boycott!

  3. Krauss
    February 22, 2012, 9:30 am

    The poll that you cited was deeply skewed. First, the sample was really small.
    Second, it had a much bigger proportion of Orthodox students. And third, it had homes which at much higher proportions sent their kids to summer camp and hebrew school.

    The sample was way too small and highly skewed in such a way to give Zionists multiple orgasms after reading it.

    Still, Beinart’s case is slightly overstated. I’ve read fairly good statistical reports that basically lays out the claim that disconnection to Zionism is in large part a result of a disconnect to Judaism as a whole, which means that those Jewish kids who didn’t have a ‘strong’ Jewish background(summer camps, Birthright, hebrew school, mild observance of tradition on a regular basis(if secular) and so on) also didn’t have strong feelings towards Zionism. These kids were very often the result of intermarriage.

    But if you look at Jewish kid with Jewish parents on both sides with a fairly strong Jewish background(and not necessarily Orthodox in any shape or form) then you did see a strong support to Zionism.

    So in this case, sadly, the dedication to ‘Jewish values’ was correlated strongly to outright, often uncritical, support for Zionism. Another example of how Zionism has superceded everything, even Judaism itself.

    It’s now more or less an established fact and conventional wisdom inside the Jewish community that anti-Zionism is racism. But if you’re anti-nationalist in general, but for all people, why should you make an exception for Jews(on principle) no matter how compelling the historical subtext? Because you know that etno-nationalism(and even more so etno-religious nationalism, which is even more aggressive) leads to violence and, ultimately, facism. Regardsless of which group of people who wields it’s sword. So now you’re some vicious Jew-hater and/or Nazi-sympathizer if you’re a Gentile or a self-hating Jew?

    I think the outburst against Beinart is very telling. Both the neocons on Commentary as well as the masquerading ‘liberals’ like Jeffrey Goldberg attacked the new NYT beaurau chief’s support for Beinart’s book as ‘more dangerous’(their words) than her casual kindness to Ali Abunimah.

    Beinart is more dangerous, according to the neocons(including the ‘liberal’ ones like Goldberg), because he’s one of us y’know. He speaks our language, he moves effortlessly in Jewish tradition and can point to a counter-narrative in Judaism which is genuine and real and which belies the claim that ‘Jewish values’ should in any shape or form somehow mandate uncritical support for Israel because the opposite is true. Judaism in it’s purest form is question of others but also, perhaps more so, of yourself and your own causes and assumptions dear to your heart.

    And Beinart is, after all, a liberal Zionist who no matter how convoluted in his ideology, tries amiably to draw them together in ways far more sympathetic than the thuggish commisar Goldberg does(who quotes Netanyahu’s father’s book in favourable light and calls him ‘inspirational’, the same man who David Remnick of the New Yorker calls a proto-facist. Says all you need to know about commisar Goldberg).

    So Beinart has to be destroyed. Now, of course, I disagree with Beinart’s thesis in many ways. But I still see him as far more intellectually honest than the fake liberals, which is why they are trying to tear him down.

    • Krauss
      February 22, 2012, 9:46 am

      One more thing.

      I have issues in which even the critique is framed in a ‘But Is It Good For the Jooos?’ kind of way. That’s still too narrow and ethnocentric. Israel should be held to a universal(and not a double) standard. And in my opinion, from that point you judge the de facto and de jure Apartheid in the West Bank and increasingly even in Israel proper(denying Arabs inside Israel to marry other Arabs from the West Bank in a clear racial Apartheid law, allowing communities to reject Arabs(but phrased in ways such as ‘maintaining the social cohesion) on muddy grounds for muddy reasons in popular votes and so forth).

      If young Jews are comfortable with Israel or not is, in the light of the brutal oppression of racial minorities, disgustingly trivial and arrogant. That is not and should not be the main focus of this debate.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 22, 2012, 10:12 am

        If young Jews are comfortable with Israel or not is…….disgustingly trivial and arrogant. That is not and should not be the main focus of this debate.

        why? first off i don’t think beinart’s ‘focus of debate’ is whether or not the youths are alienated from zionism or israel. i think that is a corner stone of his argument, a given, a key point. challenging that main premise is a way of cutting off the debate and shutting down the discussion which i presume is why tip, aice (and whoever else, the goi as far as i know) hired a rtwg polling company specializing in getting the right kind of results to cut him off at the pass.

        i don’t think it is trivial at all nor do i think it is disgusting. could you elaborate on why you come to this conclusion. do you think the youth of today will have a conversion towards more attachment to zionism and israel as they age?

      • teta mother me
        February 22, 2012, 11:40 am

        Krauss, it was my impression that the disaffection of young Jews was the lever Beinart was using to try to pry Israel out of the morass it’s in. I thought the focus on youth was instrumental, not essential.

      • American
        February 22, 2012, 2:45 pm

        “If young Jews are comfortable with Israel or not is, in the light of the brutal oppression of racial minorities, disgustingly trivial and arrogant. That is not and should not be the main focus of this debate.”… Krauss

        I agree. And the question of Israel -I/P — the fact that Israel’s actions and I/P falls under international law –should leave out of any I/P settlement and not depend on any other opinions of Israel’s supporters or detractors.
        I would be 100% in favor of applying the strict letter of the laws the world went to the trouble to create for just such conflicts as I/P.

        Clinton justified NATO acting in the Bosnia conflict based on those same international laws and the trigger set for acting was the slaughter of 800 people. More than a thousand were killed in the Gaza assault alone in ’08.
        The moral hypocrisy should be more than Americans can stand.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 22, 2012, 7:04 pm

        thanks american. i realized i interpreted ‘this debate’ differently. instead of incorporating the big picture i limited it.

    • Annie Robbins
      February 22, 2012, 9:55 am

      I’ve read fairly good statistical reports that basically lays out the claim that disconnection to Zionism is in large part a result of a disconnect to Judaism

      do you have one of those reports? re the poll, check out my comment upthread.

    • Pixel
      February 22, 2012, 8:13 pm

      “no matter how compelling the historical subtext… ”

      The historical subtext becomes less compelling by the minute.

      The Invention of the Jewish People by Schlomo Sand

  4. pabelmont
    February 22, 2012, 10:06 am

    It will be good if Beinart takes “heat” if it is LOUD, PUBLIC heat. Private heat is useless. Also, the whole thing might be a distraction from the NYT’s (and others’) refusal to TELL THE FACTS (FROM “THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN GROUND”).

    Thus, it’ll be good if Beinart’s defense includes telling WHY USA’s Jews are distancing themselves from Israel. To say that they ARE DISTANCING themselves and not explain WHY will be a bit unhelpful. I look forward to reading the book.

    Seems the book does exactly that. Per review of Isi Leibler:

    Beinart is convinced that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is the “great Jewish question of the age” and his central call is for American Jews to join the choir condemning Israel.

    He informs us that he loves Israel and would teach his children to love it. Yet in the same breath he unequivocally condemns the Jewish “apartheid” state for breaching human rights, depriving Palestinians of dignity, and describes Israel’s settlement policy as a futile effort to retain occupation in a post-colonial age. He accuses the Israeli government of denying human rights to Palestinians “simply because they are not Jews,” comparing their treatment to that of African-Americans before segregation was banned.

    Netanyahu is portrayed as the devil incarnate, who opposes peace, regards liberalism as the special curse of the Jewish people, inherited from his father a view of Arabs as “semi-barbaric” and exploits Jewish victimization and the Holocaust as cynical propaganda tools.

    • Newclench
      February 22, 2012, 10:25 am

      Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is the great Jewish question of our age. (It’s other things besides of course.)
      Growing up in Israel, I feel like the more attached I became to an overtly ‘Jewish’ identity, the angrier I became at the damage Israel was doing to it. The more Jewish I feel, the more anti-Zionist. And strangely, the more Jewish the more I want Israel to overcome it’s roots and treat all citizens with full equality (or even, affirmative action that begins the long process of reconciliation with Palestinians.)
      There’s a growing community in the Jewish world that fears more for the ‘Jewish soul’ than for the security of the state of Israel. Beinart represents it well.
      (Whatever the Jewish soul is…. don’t ask me!)

      • Annie Robbins
        February 22, 2012, 10:47 am

        wonderful comment NC.

      • kapok
        February 23, 2012, 12:34 pm

        “wonderful comment”. Yes, wonderful. And anodyne.

      • Empiricon
        February 22, 2012, 12:06 pm

        Ditto Annie. As one of Southern WASP heritage, I can empathize greatly. I grew up in the 70s as Jim Crow was fading, but grew repulsed by its remnants that remained through the 80s. So when I moved to LA, I thought I would escape it (and the humidity). Yet, over the years, as conversations with some (though certainly not all) Jewish friends and acquiantences meandered to Israel, I was truly shocked to find attitudes even more racist that what I left in Tennessee — and even more shocked that it seems socially acceptable to this day.

      • ToivoS
        February 22, 2012, 4:59 pm

        Empiricon I had that experience also. About 20 years back I had a close Israeli friend (he left Israel in 1952) describe his experiences during the 1948 war. This was someone who actively supported the civil rights movement in this country. I was utterly appalled — his description of the Arabs was even more vile than typical Southern attitudes towards blacks was in the 1950s. I asked him to substitute black for Arab in his reminiscent and he replied ‘but with the Arabs it is true!’.

      • Mooser
        February 22, 2012, 5:42 pm

        “There’s a growing community in the Jewish world that fears more for the ‘Jewish soul’ than for the security of the state of Israel.”

        And that’s supposed to be worse than the community which cares more for the security of Israel than it does for the “Jewish soul”?
        I mean, that’s what we’ve had up til now.

        But that your main concern, Newclench, is the security of Israel, I never, ever doubt, not for a second.

      • MHughes976
        February 22, 2012, 5:58 pm

        The Jewish soul and the human soul are just the same.

      • Mooser
        February 22, 2012, 5:50 pm

        “Growing up in Israel, I feel like the more attached I became to an overtly ‘Jewish’ identity,”

        I know how you feel, Clenchy. The damn things take so long to grow, and are so hard to curl just right. And it’s not that the clothes are expensive, but you have to have exactly the right ones. Yes, I would be mad, too, if after all that work somebody was besmirching my “Jewish identity”.

      • kapok
        February 23, 2012, 12:11 pm

        “I feel Jewish.” On a scale of one to ten with ten being the most Jewish you could ever feel without your precious jewdihood spilling from every orifice, how Jewish do you figure you’re feeling right now?

      • yourstruly
        February 23, 2012, 9:22 pm

        the more of a humanitarian one is
        the more anti-zionist

        the more anti-zionist
        the more pro-palestinian

        the more pro-palestinian
        the more of a humanitarian

      • john h
        February 24, 2012, 9:37 pm

        Was that a quote or did you put it together, yourstruly? Whatever, I like it a lot.

      • yourstruly
        February 25, 2012, 10:57 am

        gracias, as far as i’m aware, it’s mine

    • MHughes976
      February 22, 2012, 12:37 pm

      The scornful reviewer may have a point, in that Beinart’s position seems very puzzling – he loves Israel but ascribes many hateful qualities to it. He doesn’t like what’s going on but is, as far as we know from his publications so far, fully ready to concede the vital point, that ethical considerations may have to be set aside for the greater purpose. He objects to the subordination of the Palestinians merely ‘because they are not Jews’, but this had to happen under the Zionist project, it was and is the whole idea. If B objects only because the subordination has gone so far and been so brutal he is open to many replies – the more the Palestinians regrettably refuse to accept the big project (which has to go ahead) the more they must be made to accept it, at whatever cost it takes.
      These may not be insuperable objections but I think they’re substantial ones.

      • Newclench
        February 22, 2012, 1:15 pm

        My observation is that some Zionists feel that Zionism was conditionally justified by past circumstances (Holocaust, etc.) and they’d like to continue with a relationship to that old version.
        But they also recognize that most of what passes for Zionism or Zionist policy today is completely wrong and immoral. Personally, I’m happy to make the trade…. they can maintain the illusion of a conditionally moral Zionism that existed once upon a time in exchange for de-Zionification of the State of Israel. Myths and illusions aren’t really the realm of policy or international relations.

      • Mooser
        February 22, 2012, 5:47 pm

        “for de-Zionification of the State of Israel.”

        Another Words, you would like the same gradual dispossession and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians to take place, but with less Jewish-Zionist triumphalism shouting about it?
        But as far as any fundamental change in the situation, or an attempt at reparations and restitution, you will fight that to the death.

        What is so insulting is that you think you fool Mondoweiss readers with your obfuscatory and mendacious words.

      • Chaos4700
        February 22, 2012, 6:59 pm

        If you “de-Zionify” Israel… don’t you just end up with Palestine? Palestine as it was before Israel, when your ID papers called you just Palestinian rather than Jewish or Muslim or Christian? No complaints here, mind you.

      • Newclench
        February 22, 2012, 8:31 pm

        Read the Shlomo Zand book again. Once you take away the discriminatory laws, you still have…. Israelis. Take away the Zionism and you still have Israel. Non- and anti-Zionist Israelis have been around from the beginning. Most of them have never advocated for the non-existence of Israel. By way of example, none of the Palestinian Israeli parties in the Knesset seem to want that. Even arch-nationalist Azmi B’shara talked about Israel as ‘a state of all its citizens.’
        Personally, I’d be pretty darn pleased if the Israeli ID would finally say ‘Israeli’ under nationality.

        Mooser, you are just a bully. Seems to be all you got.

      • Chaos4700
        February 23, 2012, 2:26 am

        Yeah, and who do you think the community here would rather associate with, Newclench? Mooser, or you? Take away Israel and you have… Palestine. There is no Israel without Zionism, and there is no Zionism without the Occupation and the Nakba. You might as well be waxing poetic about unicorns and leprechauns.

      • Newclench
        February 23, 2012, 8:36 am

        Lookie folks, turns out bullies love the feeling of community support! Aww. It’s like, all they really want is to be loved. Me – I’ll go with not being a bully.

      • Chaos4700
        February 23, 2012, 9:42 am

        Really? Which is why you routinely call people names like “fool” and berate Palestinians that they must sell their rights out to Israelis?

        I refuse to feed your ego. This isn’t about you, newclench, you’re just another Israeli who’s trying to masquerade his fear of Israel’s fate and what’s coming to them, as faux-finish concern for human rights. But you don’t really care one bit about what Palestinians REALLY need, let alone what they want.

        Keep telling yourself you’re not a bully when YOUR WHOLE LIFE has been a product of the Occupation.

      • kapok
        February 23, 2012, 12:15 pm

        Not a bully doesn’t see himself the victim.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 23, 2012, 10:13 pm

        There is no Israel without Zionism,

        there could be

      • Chaos4700
        February 24, 2012, 12:51 am

        Yes, Annie, and there was. It was called Palestine.

      • john h
        February 24, 2012, 9:50 pm

        Myths and illusions aren’t really the realm of policy or international relations.

        You forgot to add the rider that is the clincher to so many, “except for Israel”, one that has always applied to what most Jews and most Western governments say and do. Are you sure you’re not one of them?

        “It’s a given, don’t you know”!…

    • Scott
      February 22, 2012, 12:59 pm

      Yeah, the book fulfills its promise. I have a galley, am writing a review.

  5. DICKERSON3870
    February 22, 2012, 11:14 am

    RE: “Rust never sleeps.” ~ Annie Robbins

    MY COMMENT: Have you tried Rust-Oleum®?

    DISCLAIMER: This is not meant as an endorsement/recommendation of Rust-Oleum®!

  6. Justice Please
    February 23, 2012, 6:54 am

    If the results are valid, it only means that those Jews are not aware of the facts in Israel and Palestine.

    • Annie Robbins
      February 23, 2012, 10:15 pm

      there’s no way the results of that poll are valid JP, no way.

      • Marcus Mohr
        February 24, 2012, 11:03 am

        Why not Annie? They seem pretty consistent with what I’ve witnessed in Canada and I doubt the situation is much different there. I don’t see why it concerns you so much to have large-scale support, no one has ever said that popular opinion is necessarily right.

        Look at the statistics closely, they’re not that remarkable:

        -9/10 Jews agree that Israel is the spiritual center of the Jewish people (given its location in the ‘holy land’, this isn’t so surprising)
        -8/10 think that caring about Israel is important to being Jewish (this naturally follows from the first point)
        -compare the 89% that have warm/favorable feelings toward Israel to the surprisingly low 78% that sympathize with Israel in the I/P Conflict (over 1/5 Jews do not), this shows that there’s obviously a disconnect where young Jews want to love there idealized religious/nationalist state but see the Palestinians as an unwanted obstacle

      • john h
        February 24, 2012, 9:53 pm

        Don’t all Zionists see Palestinians that way, Marcus? How is that a disconnect?

Leave a Reply