Prof. Peter Beinart’s New Book Examines the State of Democracy in Israel

Prof. Peter Beinart has just come out with his third book, The Crisis of Zionism (Times Books), about the threats to democracy in Israel and the failure of the American Jewish establishment to confront them.

According to the official summary of the book, Beinart traces the history of Zionism to show how a once liberal movement came to be affiliated with conservative politics and antidemocratic policies, splitting the American Jewish community into two hostile camps. He then shows how this division came to be personified on the world stage by the two leaders at the center of the crisis today: Barack Obama, who Beinart calls America’s first “Jewish president,” a man steeped in the liberal Zionism he learned from his many Jewish friends and mentors in Chicago; and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister who considers liberalism the Jewish people’s special curse. These two men embody fundamentally different visions not just of American and Israeli national interests but of the mission of the Jewish people.

The book concludes with provocative proposals for how the relationship between American Jews and Israel must change. Beinart appeals to American Jews to defend the dream of a democratic Jewish state before it is too late.

Beinart, a senior political writer for The Daily Beast and former editor of The New Republic, teaches Political Reporting and Opinion Writing at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. His other books are The Icarus Syndrome: How American Triumph Produces American Tragedy (HarperCollins), which came out in June 2010; and The Good Fight: Why Liberals – and Only Liberals – Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again, published by HarperCollins in June 2006.

Watch Peter Beinart on The Colbert Report.