Seen from here, it's hard to know which of the following reports is more representative:
Fifth Avenue Salutes Israel, about a mass event in Manhattan that was deemed important enough to attract just about every New York politician who needs to be elected:
Hundreds of thousands of people took part in the Salute to Israel Parade on New York City's Fifth Avenue Sunday. Participants danced to the tunes of Hebrew music, waved Israeli and American flags, and carried heart warming posters in support of the Jewish state across the ocean.Or perhaps this, from The Tablet:
...I am deeply ambivalent about Israel. Modern-day Israel, as opposed to historical Israel, is a subject I avoid with my children. Yes, of course I believe the state should exist, but the word “Zionist” makes me skittish. (I understand that I may be the Jewish equivalent of all the twentysomething women I want to smack for saying, “I’m not a feminist, but I believe in equal rights.”) I shy away from conversations about Israeli politics. I feel no stirring in my heart when I see the Israeli flag. I would no sooner attend an Israel Day parade than a Justin Bieber concert. Neither Abe Foxman nor AIPAC speaks for me. I am a liberal, and I am deeply troubled by the Matzav, Israeli shorthand for tension with the Palestinians, and I do not have answers, and I do not know what to do about it, and I do not know what to tell my children. So, it was with a huge sense of identification and relief that I read Peter Beinart’s controversial essay in the New York Review of Books last week.
The two are not, of course, mutually exclusive, and there's nothing wrong with a large Jewish community having diverse and even contradictory positions or trends. Knowing the Jews, it would be impossible otherwise. My point is that seen from here, it's essentially impossible to figure out what's going on, who's got the upper hand, who is the face of the future and who not, and so on.
All of which is to wish that Peter Beinart and his many comrades in ignorance would pontificate a wee bit less about all the things that are wrong about Israel, even as his very choice of sources, not to mention his outlandish conclusions, speak volumes mostly to his lack of information.
Yesterday he followed up his previous piece with one called Why Israel has to do Better, which mostly left me scratching my head in perplexity. It contains ideas such as that the Palestinian leaders since Arafat are eager to reach a two-state solution but Israel isn't (Ehud Olmert, anyone?); settlements are ever encroaching on Palestinian land and pulling them out will cause civil war (Gaza, anyone? - Not to mention that the myth of the encroaching is true only if you cast the facts in a very specific way); Hamas and Fatah would have created a unity government amenable to negotiating with Israel in 2007, but Israel and America thwarted them (How, exactly, did they manage, and how come it was never reported in any knowledgeable media outlet I've seen, not even Haaretz?); Israel is at least partially to blame for the Hamas rockets from Gaza - he actually does say that. And so on. He has also allowed Edit Zertal and Akiva Eldar to convince him that the settlers are a cancer in the Israeli polity, and someone has convinced him that the Haredim have taken over Jerusalem (Nir Barkat, anyone?).
I'll allow him a pass about the cancer in the polity one. It's conceivable he's simply ignorant about the heritage and provenance of that term, though it's not an ignorance to be proud of.
At the end of his litany of myths, distortions, inventions and shabby propaganda, he gives us an insight about his motives, and they aren't a deep need to understand what Israel is about:
One last point. Leon, Jeff, Jon, Jamie, David and I are all Jews. In some sense, therefore, Israel’s crimes—unlike those of Hamas or Ahmedinejad—are committed in our name. We have a special obligation to expose and confront them. And we have a special obligation not to use the crimes of Israel’s enemies to excuse behavior that dishonors a Jewish state, and the Jewish ethical tradition that we all consider precious.
He's apologetic; Israel besmirches his name.
I bow to no one in matters of morality, which is a stronger word than ethics, but when Beinart cites our common tradition I'm not certain it really is. His version doesn't look all that much like the one I know about.