The Death of Liberal Zionism

Liberal Zionism may indeed need a coffin. Proof of this is best seen through the microcosm of two young, passionate, eloquent, and outspoken Jews who were born in the early 1970s — in 2012, they have challenged conventional norms on Israel.

American journalist Peter Beinart and Israeli politician Naftali Bennett are modern examples of two people who could not be further apart on their politics, nor on their influence. Beinart is an extremist liberal with fringe viewpoints and a small following; Bennett is a conventional conservative with a large and growing constituency.

Beinart’s book “The Crisis of Zionism” has been celebrated by the liberal media, yet the book has sold terribly. His argument that Jews are turned off because of the tension between liberalism and Zionism has been rejected by the Jewish community en masse.  Beinart continues to push a message of BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) as he stands with anti-Semites in advocating a boycott of those parts of Israel he deems to be “non-democratic.” While his fringe viewpoints are given widespread attention via the “Open Zion” blog at Newsweek/The Daily Beast his influence is restricted mainly to the media, as American Jewry has not accepted his viewpoints.  In Israel, the polls show the left being trounced in upcoming elections.

A 2012 UJA community survey found that 74% of all New York City’s Jewish children are Orthodox, and it shows that liberal Jews are having fewer children, and do not provide meaningful Jewish education.  They intermarry, assimilate and largely disappear as Jews.  Yet rather than deal with American Jewish assimilation which continues at upwards of 60 percent, Beinart says “the great American Jewish challenge of our age” is “saving liberal Zionism.” It is doubtful that Beinart can view the thriving Orthodox community as a breeding ground for liberal Zionism.

Israel, the “Start-Up Nation” that it has handily become and has brought so much to the world, certainly does not need an American Jew to save the failed policies of liberal Zionism. While Beinart foolishly claimed that “Jewish fortunes have radically changed,” he overlooked Hamas, Toulouse and the rampant hatred toward Jews throughout Europe.  That growing anti-Semitism has helped foment the increasingly right-wing philosophy of Zionism today.

Beinart was right about his concept of the “generational discord” which older Jewish leaders are unable to capture from the younger generations.  The new, young leader who has emerged is the furthest thing from liberal Zionism; religious Zionist Naftali Bennett.  He is a smart, eloquent 40 year old who formerly served as executive director of the settlement council. Bennett is a self-made multi-millionaire who leads the Jewish Home political party which is projected to be the third largest political party in the upcoming Israeli elections.

The face of success of Israel’s economic powerhouse, Bennett understands public relations and digital media, is media savvy and concerned about the importance of world Jewry. A political conservative, he is the son of American immigrants to Israel and cognizant of the new leadership which Jews worldwide need. Even as Prime Minister Netanyahu is labeled as “conservative” by worldwide media, the Prime Minister’s biggest challenge is from Bennett, who served as his chief of staff and is to the right of Netanyahu politically.

In sharp contrast to Beinart, Bennett understands that Israel is a self-sufficient country, and not a banana republic of the United States or any other nation. Bennett advocates that Israel annex Judea and Samaria. As he says, the world already refuses to recognize Jerusalem or the Golan Heights as Israel, and yet life in Israel goes on. A strong and secure Israel is the Jewish priority, and not the ever-elusive “peace”  which Bennett deems impossible in this (and our children’s) generation.

Unlike foolish Beinart who believes if the world boycotts Israeli “settlements”  everything will be dandy, Bennett realistically understands that the obstacles to peace for the Arabs and radical Islamists who control the regions surrounding Israel, is not merely Judea and Samaria, but rather Jews and the presence of the entire State of Israel.  Zionism today doesn’t delineate that Jews need to be victims, and a proud, active people are increasingly representative of that fact.

The next generation of Jewish leaders worldwide is made up of young people like Naftali Bennett, Knesset Deputy Speaker Danny Danon, and others who spread the important message of a strong Israel.  In America, liberal Judaism is withering away with its disappearing population, and authentic Judaism grows. While extremists like Beinart and his liberal ilk attract media attention, good old fashioned Zionism grows and thrives.

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  • Gus

    Beinert is not a ZIonist of any sort. He is an Israel hating anti-Zionist.

    • Raymond in DC

      Beinart increasingly finds himself in Israel-hating company. One Israeli leftist (prominent in a university Humanities department, naturally) complained that people "unjustly" accused her of anti-Semitism when, after all, she keeps intellectual company with folks like Beinart, Chomsky, Butler, et. al. Nice. Beinart at least *claims* to be a Zionist, claims to love Israel and hopes his kids have *reason* to, but Chomsky, Butler, and company go beyond harsh criticism to openly siding with Israel's enemies.

  • SHmuelHaLevi

    Significantly, here in Eretz Israel, the reigning cadres headed by the Peresites, (Mr. Peres associates), are dwindling and hitting everything and everyone while in their way into oblivion.
    That their goal has been all along to either impose by all means an unJewish way of life or destroy the Jewish dream, is not longer in doubt.
    In fact, the closer the trap door is to slam on them, the more dangerous they are.
    HEADS UP is in order.

    • stern

      And Peres is proving your point right now, telling anyone who will listen that we have a "peace partner" in Abbas and will talk to Hamas if only they would renounce terrorism and recognize Israel. It really is time to put the man out to pasture where he can do no more harm.

    • EarlyBird

      Yeah, why don't you guys just get the mass imprisonment of all current Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank over with, maybe extend a bit into Sinai and over the Jordan for good measure, call it "Final Israel" and be done with it. It will only take turning those places into mass prisons run by a fully militarized Israeli super state. Surely what your founding fathers had in mind when they imagined an oasis for good, moral Jews.

      • SHmuelHaLevi

        Contrary to the European invading sub species that stole the Native American lands, we, the Jewish people, only demand the return of our indigenous land whose limits are set on records almost 5800 years old, A bit before some tramps run ashore in Massachussets.
        As to the rest of your, ahem… comment.
        You know why we Jews do not eject from our Land so far the islamic brand of invading sub species, Bird? They may leave on their own, or accept compensation but will will not long march them.
        We refuse to learn from the US Plymouth rockers how to buiild 482? "injun reservarions", (Native Americans), AKA permanent concentration camps, The US Department of the Interior, Secretary of "Indian" Affairs, Washington DC, is planning to send your experts on ethnic cleansing to show their peons here how is done. We, in turn, will proceed to perform on those experts a classic Jewish protocol. SKIT A. Acronym of course.
        How many of my Native American friends and remote family members have your folk exterminated and abused , Bird? To this day.

        • EarlyBird

          Shmuel, go ahead and point to the mass slaughter of American Indians by European settlers and US government. No umbrage taken, because it's a perfect illustration of my point.

          I read radical Zionists demanding that Jews "take all of the land that was ours for millennia!" and I want to ask, "But, specifically HOW? How will this land be taken and still be Jewish land?" Or at least how can it remain morally Jewish?

          The dream is a Greater Israel that stretches far and wide and is Jewish, right? So, what to do with the millions non-Jews that still live there? You either physically remove them or slaughter them, or pen them into reservations, or convert them to Judaism. Right?

          In other words, what's the end game for the radical Zionists? They sound as intractable and apocalyptic as the Muslim madmen stating they will push Jews into the sea.

          • SHmuelHaLevi

            Adding extremist to ZIONIST means what? Zionism has no hues. It is either there or it ain't. Ce tu. Still you danced around true extremism against millions of Native Americans, a ethnic cleasing going on as we speak. What are you going to do to address the US crimes?
            Regarding the invading HAMULAS. Arabic, African and Persian Moslem hamulas, (extended families), did under the cover provided by the Brutis, steal our ancestral land Bird.
            We did not sail away from religious persecution and decided to take away others land.
            TheMoslem invaders stole our Heritage, even our Temple Site, and we just re took and will re take the rest as well. Internalize that Bird. The "world" does not have any right to decide to "partition" our Land, Full stop. Those games are over.
            Oil and weapons sales cannot be any longer lubricated using Jewish properties and lives.
            They have the following options.
            Move out voluntarily.
            Negotiate for a compensation package to leave.
            Continue to pretend they are a "people" and attack.
            We have tools that fit every option.

  • Ghostwriter

    I don't have any problem with Israel. I've never understood why there are those who are.

    • Mary Sue

      It's really strange to me how the antisemitism is supposedly the exclusive domain of the right, yet if you scratch a few of these alleged right wing anti semites, you'll find a leftist.

      • EarlyBird

        The anti-Semitic bubbas from not so long ago have been replaced by left wing anti-Semites.

  • Stephen Franklin

    You would expect an extremist of the left to have less following than a conventional conservative. You would also expect an extreme conservative to have less following than a conventional liberal.

    The article proves nothing. In Israel the social movement, that showed itself in tent protests in the last couple of years, have massive support and most of the supporters and both strong Zionists and passionate social liberals.

    I am a British (Labour party supporting) liberal and a strong Zionist. Liberal Zionists are very far from becoming extinct.

  • shankypanks

    Refreshing at last to read see in black and white, that the extremists are the so called liberal left. They were so under communism and they remain so today. Those people who supported socialist Israel with its kibbutz economy in the '50-60's whilst they looked to Russian communism for their liberal fix, have sporned offspring who cling on to that tight fisted liberalism in a world in which Russia now embraces the worst of capitalism, whilst turning their attention to destroying Israel as their only latch on to their parents' lost cause. We see them on the streets, the older members having diverted from Apartheid SA to Greenham Common and US bases in the UK whilst cuddling up to Cuba with their younger indoctrinated protagonists still clawing on to a long dead ideology that only brought dictatorship and poverty to those who embraced it. Israel sensibly used socialism as it was intended, to build a nation with a base for an economy, ditching it once it had served its purpose to become the number one start up nation in the world, singled out amongst the very few countries enjoying positive growth in a dying west.

  • Mr. Polly

    As Orthodox Jews become the predominating force in Israel, the lame propaganda myth that Americans and Israelis share "common values" will become too obviously absurd to sustain.

    • Ghostwriter

      The only absurd one here,Mr. Polly,is you.

  • Jozy

    Great. The world needs more Zionism. The more Israel in the Middle East, the better.

  • Ben Cohen

    Anyone who thinks annexing the west bank serves Israel's interests is a complete and total retard. Annexing the west bank turns Israel into a binational state. Who do you think the two million plus west bank Arabs will vote for Likud? Shas? Now personally if Israel want's to commit suicide that's their own business, just don't call binationalism support for Israel.

  • Ben Cohen

    Pretending that annexing the West Bank (I refuse to call it Judea and Samaria), serves Israel's interest is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. Who will these two million plus west bank Arabs vote for, Shas? Likud? If Israel want's to embrace binationalism that's their own business, but I won't sit here and pretend that it's in the Israelis interest.

    • Latinfidel

      First, there are not two million plus arabs in the West Bank. They are less than half that number. Second, they will not vote for Shas or Likud or nothing. They will vote for Abdula II or Abdula III or whatever autocrat rules Jordan at the happy time when Israel finally rids itself of the muslim crap. Third, of course it's very much in Israel's interest to annex what rightfully belongs to it and to expel up to the last arab miscreant .

      In the same way that Fatah's disgusting Mahmoud Abbas can unabashedly, proudly and loudly announce to the four winds that the racist Palestine would be Judenrein, with everyone in the world hardly batting an eyelash, so Israel could unabashedly, proudly and loudly announce that Jordan is the land of the "Palestinian" arabs.

      • EarlyBird

        "Third, of course it's very much in Israel's interest to annex what rightfully belongs to it and to expel up to the last arab miscreant."

        In frustration, I've said similar things about millions of illegal aliens in the US. "Just round the SOBs up and ship them across the border!" But then I take a breath and ask, "How? Physically? What would this look like politically, constitutionally, morally, etc.? What kind of an America would it be that would engage in these actions?"

        That's what frustrated Zionists need to ask themselves. You either literally push out millions of Arabs (where?) or take them over and treat them as basically prisoners inside Israel, without the full rights to vote, create political parties, etc.

        The answer can only be: continue to defend Israel aggressively, try to help these freaks evolve so they have something other than Israel to obsess over. That's the only way.

        • Ben Cohen

          Precisely. The only logical thing to do is maintain the status quo and aggressively defend against terrorism, it's not sexy and it won't win elections but it remains the only option.

      • Ben Cohen

        Long on emotion short on logic my friend. People who actually know about this conflict, regardless of their sympathies, know Israel cannot possibly annex a significant part of the west bank. It would be diplomatic and demographic suicide. Like it or not the absolute best Israel can hope for is something along the lines of what Olmert offered Abbas in 2008, or a continuation of the status quo.

  • EarlyBird

    If "…Israel is a self-sufficient country, and not a banana republic of the United States or any other nation," then why is Israel trying to drag us into war against Iran? If Israel is so "self-sufficient" why can't they take it out by themselves? Why did it need to meddle in our most recent national election?

    Because Israel is America's top benefactor, that's why. We gave them $3.1 billion dollars in aid last year, the great bulk of it going to its military. They've been our top benefactor every year since Camp David.

    Oh yes, Israel absolutely positively IS dependent upon the US for its security. The US is right to support Israel in this manner, but it has been the hard thing for Uncle Sam to do, and the Zionists had better appreciate that.

  • EarlyBird

    "Beinart is an extremist liberal with fringe viewpoints"?! "Bennett is a conventional conservative with a large and growing constituency," who is to the right of Netanyahu?! How far to the right is Torrosian to have this view point?

    Beinart cares about Israel, and sees the relentless push for Greater Israel as being against Israel's long term interests. It would swallow up the disputed territories AND make the Arab/non-Jewish inhabitants therein second class citizens, resulting in a de facto apartheid state and permanent military occupation. OR, it would require a mass deportation of Arabs in the millions.

    I expect most readers of this site to be fine with that. But at least recognize where the relentless territorial expansion is heading. How sad for Israel and the world if it became that kind of country.