Peter Beinart to visit College of Charleston for two talks
Peter Beinart, a proponent of secular, liberal Zionism who has provoked many hardliners with his writings, will visit the College of Charleston to deliver two public lectures.
The first talk, scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday in the Stern Center Ballroom on campus (George and Glebe streets), and arranged by the political science department, is titled “Political Mobilization and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.” Beinart will discuss the current status of the conflict, prospects for peace negotiations and efforts to influence U.S. policy toward the Middle East.
The Jewish Studies Program is sponsoring the second talk, scheduled for 10 a.m. Feb. 10, also in the Stern Center Ballroom.
This lecture is titled “Can Obama and Bibi Get Along?” It addresses the future of the relationship between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama.
Beinart is the author of “The Crisis of Zionism.” He is associate professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York and senior political writer for The Daily Beast and edits its blog “Open Zion.”
His book caused a stir when it was published in 2012. Among his primary arguments is that the erosion of support for Zionism among largely liberal and secular American Jews is a major factor threatening Israel today.
Without a Jewish-American community willing to strengthen its cultural ties to Israel and pass on its heritage, it will increasingly cede the secular-liberal ideals of Zionism to religious zealots and right-wing political extremists, he writes.
It doesn’t help that the so-called Israel Lobby hardly represents mainstream Jewish-American thought, Beinart argues. Statistically, most American Jews are concerned with social justice and supportive of liberal democracy. So why don’t they insist on liberal democracy in Israel?
“The answer is simple,” Beinart writes. “Today’s American Jewish establishment was not born from American Jewish liberalism; it was born as a reaction against it.”