I was lucky enough to join around 20 bloggers who were granted a half hour personal meeting with Peter Beinart during the President's Conference last Thursday. Before I entered the event I was somewhat certain it would be vicious. There was little doubt of the political affiliation of the majority of the bloggers present.
However my fears were quickly turned into amazement. Beinart within moments had the audience charmed. He told of how his younger son wanted to visit Mt Sinai - Beinart remarked that Sinai was given to Egypt as part of the peace process, and his son incredulously asked "You mean they gave Mt. Sinai to Pharaoh?" the audience cracked up. There seemed to be no question for which Beinart could not tell some anecdote, or immediately give a three four minute learned lecture.
However for me Beinart stole the show by answering the final question. Elli Fischer (On The Contrary) told of how he gives a Shiur (Lesson in Torah) every year at his parents house in a settlement on the yarhtzeit of his grandfather. What would Beinart advise him to do? Beinarts response was almost instantaneous - he should give the Shiur because nothing is more important than honoring your parents!
The answer was so quintessentially Jewish, that I think many of the bloggers were forced to change their mind about Beinart. I doubt anyone there changed their political views. However, leaving the meeting I felt that though I may disagree with him on many things, I had no doubt that he was a Zionist and a truly concerened Jew.
Avimayer (@avimayer) had this apt summary of the meeting:
"Just came out of a great session with
*Note - slight edits to the end of the post.