Prominent liberal writer Peter Beinart leaves Forward for progressive Jewish Currents


(JTA) — Jewish Currents, a left-wing Jewish publication that relaunched two years ago, is expanding with another round of high-profile hires.

The publication announced Monday that it was bringing on five new writers, including Peter Beinart, the Jewish writer who has gained prominence and drawn criticism for his outspoken criticism of Israel’s right-wing government.

BuzzFeed News first reported on the new hires and said the move represents “a power shift in the politics of American Jewish media.”

Beinart is a longtime columnist for the Forward, another Jewish progressive publication. He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Tuesday that he had been in talks with Jewish Currents, where he will be editor at large, since last year.

“I began to see that in many ways this was a kind of organic creation of progressive young American Jews, and they were responding to a lot of the same impulses that I had been writing about for a while and that I had been hoping that young American Jews would carry this torch and that they were doing so,” Beinart said.

“And so even though I was happy at the Forward and I liked the folks at the Forward and they treated me very well, I just felt like this publication could have a particular mission to change the American Jewish discourse on a range of issues.”

Jewish Currents was founded in 1946 as a communist magazine. In 2018, the magazine announced it was relaunching and focusing on attracting a younger readership. That included recent hires of four young editors and a redesigned website.

Jacob Plitman, the magazine’s publisher, said the new hires represented a continuation of the magazine’s expansion.

“This for us is the latest chapter of what’s been a march towards becoming a bigger and more important publication,” he told JTA on Monday. “Our goal, as I said two years ago, is to fill and be in that space where frankly the progressive majority of the community is and to encompass voices that are sometimes put outside red lines in the communal conversation, but also to be always focused on speaking to the Jewish public where they are.”

(JTA collage)

Since its relaunch it has published a number of prominent pieces, including an op-ed by senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders about how to fight anti-Semitism and a piece by prominent gender scholar Judith Butler critiquing a book on anti-Semitism by New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss.

The magazine funded its 2018 expansion by donations from its readership along with a grant from the New Jersey-based Puffin Foundation, which Plitman said still represented its “financial bedrock.” But subscriptions also make up a growing revenue stream: Plitman said Jewish Currents had gone from under 2,000 subscribers prior to the relaunch to more than 6,000 today. The annual subscription cost is $30.

Jewish Currents covers a range of topics from critiques of Israeli policies to civil rights and cultural commentary. It also publishes fiction and poetry.

In addition to Beinart, the magazine is bringing on journalists Mari Cohen and Joshua Leifer as staff writers and Lara Friedman of the Foundation for Middle East Peace and Elisheva Goldberg of the New Israel Fund as contributing writers.

Recommended from JTA