Peter Beinart, political writer and associate professor at the City University of New York, will be the featured speaker in this fall's Jacob Perlow Series at Skidmore College, presented under the auspices of the Office of the Dean of Special Programs.
The author of a recent book called The Crisis of Zionism, Beinart will discuss the responses to his book and answer questions put to him by a panel. The free, public event will take place at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8, in Gannett Auditorium.
Beinart was the editor-in-chief of The New Republic magazine, which he took over in 1999 at 28 years old. More recently he has been a staff writer for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. His book on Israel and the Middle East attracted national attention after an excerpt appeared in The New York Review of Books in 2010 under the title "The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment."
In his book, Beinart argues that the policies of the Israeli government have been disastrous for its standing in the world. This is especially true regarding the government's treatment of its Arab citizens and the its handling of the settlements that began to proliferate in Gaza and the West Bank after the Six-Day War in 1967.
He argues, moreover, that major Jewish organizations in the U.S. have adopted what he calls an "Israel right or wrong" position. These organizations are refusing to criticize Israeli policies, with the result that most liberal American Jews are no longer reliable supporters of Israel. Things are bound to get much worse, in Beinart's opinion.
"I'm trying to live as a critic of Israeli policies inside the American Jewish community," Beinart said, although he has been accused of hating Israel. In The Jerusalem Post, one critic wrote that Beinart's problem wasn't with Israel but with Judaism.
However, Beinart's book has received positive feedback by Paul Krugman and Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times, David Remnick of The New Yorker magazine, and by former President Bill Clinton, among others.
Beinart will respond to questions put to him by Professor Robert Boyers, editor of Salmagundi magazine, and Professor Jennifer Delton of the Skidmore Department of History. A reception and book signing will follow the discussion.