J Street Banned at Berkeley—Yes, Berkeley

Bradley Burston on the appalling decision by the Berkeley Jewish Student Union to reject J Street's campus division for membership:

What remains unclear is why, when Jews in Berkeley boycott fellow supporters of Israel, they believe that they are doing Israel, or the Jewish people, any good.

Does the Berkeley vote truly reflect the kind of community that Jewish students at the University of California want? An intellectual ghetto, walled off from debate, bricked up against nuance, a trompe l'oeil of democracy, of openness, of communication?

Here in Israel, the war that is closest to us, the war that threatens us most directly, and perhaps, most permanently, is a struggle over exclusion. It is a war which, week by week, vote by vote, uses democracy to diminish democracy. One which, edict by edict, uses the institutions of Judaism to alienate and repel Jews, and the institutions of Zionism to alienate and repel supporters of Israel.

J Street draws many Jews who are troubled by aspects of Israeli policy but are nevertheless sympathetic to the ideals of Zionism. Would the Berkeley Jewish Student Union prefer that they join anti-Zionist organizations? That seems to be the message. I grew up in a Zionist socialist youth movement, Hashomer Hatzair, that was far to the left of where J Street is today. But no one tried to ban our participation in community-wide events. Quite the contrary: The big tent was seen as a good thing. But not anymore, even at Berkeley.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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