Bookstore shoppers who spy "The Crisis of Zionism" on a shelf could be excused for assuming that the book is an up-to-the-minute work about Zionism's biggest crisis: the one brewing in Iranian uranium-enrichment facilities. But Peter Beinart is more interested in threats to Israel, or to the idea of Israel, supposedly coming from the Jewish state itself.
Mr. Beinart is not one of those Jews who flee their heritage and then seem to spend the rest of their lives harping at those who stayed behind. He attends synagogue and sends his children to Jewish schools—these are his "credentials," he says. He doesn't want to sever ties with the Jewish community; he simply wants the community to embrace his way of thinking.
Here is what he thinks: Israel is an oppressive, apartheid-type state. Its failure to attain peace with the Palestinians can be blamed on the actions of—in no particular order—Israel's leaders, American-Jewish organizations and Orthodox Jews (bigots to a man, in his telling). Because of these bad actors, Mr. Beinart warns, the "liberal Zionist dream"—a Jewish state built on liberal ideals—risks demise. He focuses in particular on the West Bank, the area captured in 1967 by Israel from Jordan in the Six-Day War. "If Israel ceases being a democratic Jewish state," he writes, "it is less likely to be because Arab armies invade the West Bank than because Israel permanently occupies it."