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Journalist Peter Beinart @ Skidmore

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Peter Beinart’s lastest book, The Crisis of Zionism

Tomorrow, political journalist Peter Beinart will be spending the day at Skidmore as part of the Jacob Perlow Lecture Serie. Beinart has written extensively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and his book, The Crisis of Zionismhas garnered praise and controversy from across the political spectrum. He was formerly the editor of The New Republic and has written for a wide range of publications. He currently writes for The Daily Beast, where he edits the blog “Open Zion.”

Beinart’s most recent book The Crisis of Zionism, has its origins in a highly polarizing 2010 article published in The New York Review of Books, titled “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment.” Beinart argues that liberal American Jews—long-committed to principles of democracy, human rights, social justice, and the avoidance of military force—are moving further and further away from Israel in the face of an increasingly virulent, undemocratic strain of Zionism championed by the ultra-Orthodox, the settler movement, and their political allies.

He argues that there is a growing divide between older, secular Jews—those willing to “check their liberalism at Zionism’s door”–and their children, who:

“…have no memory of Arab armies massed on Israel’s border and of Israel surviving in part thanks to urgent military assistance from the United States. Instead, they have grown up viewing Israel as a regional hegemon and an occupying power. As a result, they are more conscious than their parents of the degree to which Israeli behavior violates liberal ideals, and less willing to grant Israel an exemption because its survival seems in peril. Because they have inherited their parents’ liberalism, they cannot embrace their uncritical Zionism. Because their liberalism is real, they can see that the liberalism of the American Jewish establishment is fake.”

Beinart will be speaking at two events. The first will be an afternoon student panel focusing on the state of political journalism in America. The second  lecture will take place in the evening, where Beinart will be interviewed by Professors Robert Boyers and Jennifer Delton about Israel, Palestine, and the future of Zionism.

Incidentally, I will be sitting on the student panel, along with Jean-Ann Kubler ’13 and Tye Stien ’13. But don’t let my shameless self-promotion dissuade you from going, because Beinart is going to be GREAT.

Student Panel: Thursday November 8, 3:30pm @ Ladd 307
Lecture:  Thursday November 8, 8pm @ Gannett

(via Skidmore)

Lecture on Ottoman Law

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Greenberg Scholar Iris Agmon

Iris Agmon—Ben Gurion University lecturer and this year’s Greenberg Middle East Scholar-in-Residence—will be giving a talk titled “Justice of the Kadi: New Perspectives on Ottoman Law.”

“Sociologist Max Weber introduced the term “kadi justiz” (Kadi’s justice) to characterize Islamic and similar non-European, pre-modern legal systems as less rational, arbitrary, and unsystematic. The term implies that the judge in Islamic court reaches decisions intuitively and without systematic reasoning. For a long time, histories of the Ottoman Empire unwittingly sustained this viewpoint.
“In recent decades, new approaches to the study of Ottoman law and legal history have changed our understanding of the legal system. Agmon will discuss this changing perspective, focusing on the key figure of the judge.”

Agmon is a social historian specializing in the late Ottoman Empire and Mandatory Palestine. She has written widely on the subject, including a book titled Family and Court: Legal Culture and Modernity in Late Ottoman Palestine (2006, Syracuse University Press), and several articles published in such smart people journals like Islamic Law and Society and the International Journal of Middle East Studies.

Wednesday, September 19 in Davis Auditorium @ 8pm

(via Skidmore)

Norman Finkelstein to Speak

Monday, April 23rd, 2012


Tomorrow, Norman Finkelstein will give a lecture entitled “How to Solve the Israel/Palestine Conflict” in Gannett. Finkelstein is a noted author and activist highly critical of Israel. He has written on the Holocaust and Middle East politics for over twenty years, coming to national prominence with his 2000 book The Holocaust Industry, which examined the alleged “misuse” of the Holocaust for political purposes

I don’t like Finkelstein. Beyond the fact that he is a notorious publicity hound, he’s not a particularly good debater (see: Dershowitz/Finkelstein), and—whether he intends it or not—his accusations leveled against Zionists (a word easily replaced with “Jews”) are borderline conspiratorial and directly pander to the worst kinds of antisemitism.

Nevertheless, the lecture is sure to be lively, and if anything, it’ll get people talking on this campus that has so often been charged with political apathy.

If you can’t make the lecture tomorrow, here it is (I would assume) verbatim.

Tuesday, April 24 @ 7pm in Gannett Auditorium

LISTEN UP JEWS: Birthright Info Meeting

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

You'd have to be an absolute schmohawk to miss this opportunity!

Shalom, guys! Tonight, Hillel will be holding an info meeting for anybody seriously interested in going on a Birthright trip to Israel, tentatively scheduled for the beginning of the summer. This is going to be great, but if you’re Jewish and need some more reasons to attend this meeting:

  • It’s free
  • It’s a chance to have an enriching, emotional experience that you’ll likely never forget for the rest of your life
  • It’s free
  • Tradition
  • It’s free

My friend went on Birthright last year, and he told me a really funny story that involved hiking Masada hungover and throwing up on some girl from LA in the Dead Sea. So, for those of you who have already used up your free trip to Israel, post the best stories below. Winner gets a bag of H&H bagels and a thing of lox from Barney Greengrass next time I go to New York.

Tuesday, November 15 @ 7pm in the ICC