Beinart's Quest to Save Zionism

How can an Israeli PM mobilize U.S. politicians against a U.S. president committed to Israeli interests? Beinart's provocative answer: U.S. Jewish leaders commandeered Jewish organizations and turned them into agencies for Likud interests.

Issue: Mar-Apr 2012

Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism (New York: Times Books, 2012), 304 pp., $26.00.

THROUGHOUT HIS presidency, Barack Obama has sought to portray himself as a staunch friend and defender of Israel. But nothing he does seems to be enough to cement the relationship he has tried to establish with the Jewish state. He condemned the Palestinian drive for statehood at the United Nations. Not enough. He awarded Israel $3 billion in military assistance, an all-time high. Not enough. He repeatedly avowed his commitment to Israel’s security and well-being. Still not enough. The sticking point has been his effort, in which he invested a great deal of personal prestige, to force Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank as a precondition for engaging in a fresh round of peace talks with the Palestinians. Nothing doing.

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