When I was an undergraduate, the Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance invited the Palestine Solidarity Committee to the movies–specifically Boston’s Jewish and Palestine Film Festivals. It was a creative concept for a coexistence event. The response from the PSC, however, was less inspired. The organization explained that while PJA was welcome to join them at the Palestine Film Festival, and that some PSC members might be interested in attending the Jewish one, under no circumstances could the fact that Palestinians accompanied PJA to the Jewish Film Festival be advertised. PSC would not officially co-sponsor such an outing. In other words, the Jewish community was welcome to offer its empathy and legitimacy to the Palestinian perspective, but the Palestinian community would not reciprocate. The event did not take place.
This was not an isolated incident. As hostilities raged in Gaza in early 2009, PJA, Harvard Students for Israel, the Society of Arab Students, and the Harvard Islamic Society organized a peace vigil with a simple email: “Join us as we mourn the loss of human life in the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. We pray that one day we will be able to truly co-exist in peace, security, and health.” Candles were held aloft while both Jewish and Islamic prayers for peace were movingly recited in the cold evening air. The only organization that boycotted the gathering was the Palestine Solidarity Committee. Some months later, one of their board members published an op-ed arguing that Israel’s ambassador and former Harvard professor Michael Oren should be barred from campus.
I was reminded of these stories, and many others, when reading Peter Beinart’s latest article in the New York Review of Books, “American Jewish Cocoon.”
At the end of August, Peter Beinart published an essay titled "American Jewish Cocoon" in the New York Review of Books, arguing that American Jews haven't sufficiently opened themselves to dialogue with Palestinians. His piece is sharp, sometimes harsh, and certainly worth reading in full. Over at Tablet, I offer a response aimed at filling in the other side of the story:
Read the whole thing and learn about how many young Jews are, in fact, reaching out to Palestinians, only to be rebuffed by an ascendant rejectionism among their interlocutors.
I see journalism as an excuse to interrogate people who interest me under the guise of professional obligation. So when I report, I tend to collect a lot more information from my sources than can fit into my pieces. Here I post some of the greatest hits for your entertainment, along with other brief thoughts on religion, politics and culture. Well, that and funny YouTube videos.