Tonight Peter Beinart gave a talk and I didn’t go.
January 27, 2013
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What can Peter Beinart say that is not in his book “The Crisis of Zionism” or his other writings or those of his circle – “the anointed”, to borrow a phrase from Thomas Sowell?
I have read his book which I found self-aggrandising, snide, slickly packaged and devoid of substance except, strangely enough, for his last chapter dealing with socio-demographic trends in American Jewry. His data and conclusions have been challenged but at least there he introduced some credible empirical data rather than cherry picked anecdotes or shallow historical analysis.
But worse than any defects of scholarship, logic or judgement, Beinart believes that it is Israel which must meet his ethical expectations in order to merit his loyalty and affection rather than the other way around. This is nothing but narcissism and adolescent hubris writ large and in the end I felt that I did not wish to drive 70 km to be part of the throng drawn by his celebrity status.
I’m not using this to justify my decision; I am well aware of the arguments pointing in the other direction. Perhaps if it had been a debate, with Beinart meeting a credible opponent on equal terms, I might have responded differently. However, given the specific circumstances that is the way I felt and so in the end I decided to stay at home.
But I will be addressing some of the pretensions and limitations of the anointed on this site in due course.