On Beinart And Criticism


Whatever your opinion of the Peter Beinart op-ed in The New York Times (March 16), I believe the strident outcry of many members of the Jewish community, including some leaders of Jewish organizations, says more about the state of mind of our people than about the content of Beinart’s article. It was, after all, one man’s opinion.

He is not a head of state nor an influential international figure: he’s just a journalist who is Jewish and has a point of view. All the negative attention directed at Beinart, some of it pretty vicious, actually attributes a level of power to him that he simply does not have. To maintain that this article threatens the security of the State of Israel is not reasonable, although reason does not seem to be operating here.

It’s once more apparent that the longstanding inability of our community to deal with any criticism of Israel, however correct or well meaning, is intolerable in some quarters.

If the ideas in the article are troubling to readers, response to the op-ed is certainly in order: the uncivil name-calling and baseless allegations are not.

I understand and believe that the security of Israel is of the highest priority. But it’s time we stopped fooling ourselves into believing that any criticism of Israel is dangerous and provides aid and comfort to the enemy. What we need is more light than heat. Whether or not we agree with Peter Beinart’s thesis is not the issue. Dealing with the ideas he expressed in a responsible and civil way is.


Editor’s Note: The writer is a member of The Jewish Week board of directors.