As Israel prepares to celebrate its 64th anniversary tomorrow as an independent democratic state in the Middles East, there have been waves of verbal attacks which recently have rained down upon Israel and especially on the Netanyahu Government. Much of it has been triggered by the publication of Peter Beinart’s New York Times op-ed on March 18 and then the release of his new book, the Crisis of Zionism; followed immediately by a raft of critical reviews of the book—many of them quite scholarly and thoughtful; that the State of Israel itself must indeed be feeling the “crisis”. Now along comes the New York Times op-ed columnist and Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman taking the policies of the Government of Israel to task, as he joined the Beinart controversy in defense of Beinart, referring to him as a “brave man” who wrote a “brave book.”
While Kahntentions has addressed many of the issues raised by Beinart as well as his reviewers, there remains one matter which needs to be underscored and which Krugman and others miss. Beinart is not the only one who takes serious issue with the Netanyahu Government and especially its policy on settlements and its treatment of Palestinians; but they do so without developing almost an ad hominem attack on Bibi. A New York Times op-ed this morning featured precisely such an alternative approach.
A trio of Israelis who lead a group called Blue White Future laid out a serious and considered criticism of Netanyahu and offered an approach to try to move discussions with the Palestinians forward, constructively. This group is hardly the only one in Israel which might find many American Jews who would support such creative initiatives; which Beinart’s call for a boycott of West Bank goods has no traction to speak of.
It is also worth noting that Beinart’s approach attracts mainly unaffiliated, liberal American Jews, but it barely dents the larger American community. Many of these other alternative approaches, which are more nuanced, have the potential to reach even more conservative members of the Jewish community as well as affiliated Jews—even within the Orthodox community.