In the first in a series on progressive US Judaism and Israel, the writer insists the American pro-Palestinian movement is not, by and large, antisemitic.
By Zvika Klein | The Times of Israel | Aug 9, 2021
“As Americans, we don’t provide $3 billion in military aid to Iran or Syria. Asad is a monster, and we are his enemies, as we should be. But without us, Israel couldn’t do everything it does.”
— Peter Beinart
NEW YORK — As we get closer to the Young Israel synagogue in the prestigious Upper West Side neighborhood of Manhattan, the journalist next to me pulls out his kippa from his pocket, and places it in a smooth, natural motion on his head. Then, he places his cellphone up against the monitor beside the door. Following the increase of antisemitic incidents across the United States, he explains, the synagogue has been equipped with advanced security devices, and entry is only permitted to those who have a unique ID barcode. As we cross the doorstep I can’t help but think: who would have thought I’d be davening Mincha with Peter Beinart.
The New Yorker recently described Beinart as “the most influential liberal Zionist of his generation,” adding he “had switched sides.” Today he is viewed as a harsh critic of the State of Israel, a supporter of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, and one of the most hated people in America’s organized Jewish world. And yet, here we are. Because Beinart is also an Orthodox Jew, and for the past year he has taken pain to pray with a minyan three times a day as he says Kaddish in his father’s memory. He teaches journalism and political science at the City University of New York (CUNY), and is editor-at-large of the Jewish Currents magazine and website, an outlet heavily identified with the progressive Jewish Left.