Although I disagree with some articles published in the New York Review of Books, I found “The American Jewish Cocoon” by journalist & professor Peter Beinart on-target in criticizing the ignorance of American Jews regarding the reality of Palestinian life within Israel and under occupation. Short of reading this long article for yourself, Haaretz blogger, Chemi Shalev, provides a good sense of it, beginning as follows:
Peter Beinart: American Jews willfully ignore the Palestinian
perspective of the conflict
In a controversial new article, the community’s enfant terrible lashes out at the American Jewish ‘cocoon’ that breeds insulation, lack of empathy and an inability to properly defend Israel.
The American Jewish community’s enfant terrible, Peter Beinart, is in attack mode once again. In a scathing new 5,000-word article, Beinart accuses the Jewish establishment of willfully ignoring the Palestinian side of their conflict with Israel and of thus being “a closed intellectual space, isolated from the experiences and perspectives of roughly half the people under Israeli control.”
Returning to the respected arena of The New York Review of Books in which he published his original controversial 2010 article “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment,” Beinart accuses American Jewish leaders of living in a “cocoon” as far as the Palestinians are concerned. Palestinians are rarely invited to address American Jewish groups, he asserts, just as American Jews visiting Israel with Birthright and similar organizations hardly ever venture into Palestinian cities and towns.
The result, he says, is that American Jews have very little knowledge of the reality of Palestinian lives. Their isolation and insularity not only translate into an utter lack of empathy for the Palestinians but also to a basic misunderstanding of the conflict itself. This ignorance, he adds, is even detrimental to Israel’s most ardent advocates because American Jews “fail to understand the very behavior they seek to prevent. …”
By way of an antidote to this condition, consider joining Partners’ annual Israel Symposium. The Symposium engages with Palestinian Israelis and visits the West Bank as well as meeting with Jewish Israelis representing a wide range of viewpoints. It is scheduled this year for Oct. 26-Nov. 2nd; check it out at the Partners’ website.