In January 2007, amid the furor over Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, former President Jimmy Carter made his first major public appearance about the book at Brandeis University, which defines itself as “the only non-sectarian Jewish-sponsored college or university” in the United States. He received a standing ovation, going on to say that he had chosen the word “apartheid” for his book’s title “knowing that it would be provocative” and to deliver a speech describing the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands as “cruel oppression.” Carter then departed, and Alan Dershowitz, author of The Case for Israel, rose to offer a response. Half the audience walked out. A year later, the Brandeis student senate voted not to congratulate Israel on its sixtieth anniversary.

In Knowing Too Much, Norman Finkelstein offers these incidents in support of his argument that both American Jews and the American public more generally are moving away from uncritical support for Israel. This shift, he suggests, holds out the possibility that the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict may be settled at last. Other analysts concur that there is growing disillusionment with Israel among American Jews, a phenomenon they attribute either to higher rates of intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews (and thus lesser ethnic ties to the Jewish state) or to the increasingly reactionary policies pursued by Israel itself. Finkelstein instead emphasizes another factor: Knowledge of Israel’s crimes has become so widespread that it is no longer possible for US Jews to reconcile support for Israeli policies with the liberal values that most of them embrace.

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