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Disinvited author sells out event at another venue

12:58 AM, Nov 15, 2012   |    comments
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DUNWOODY -- A guest invited, then disinvited. For the first time in the 21-year history of the popular book festival at the Jewish Community Center, an author was removed from their calendar. 

For some JCC members, Peter Beinart's book, "The Crisis in Zionism," was just too controversial.

"Historically, the way people, leadership thought about being supportive of Israel was to support the policies of the Israeli government," Beinart explained about his book published in April. "I'm actually suggesting that some of those policies are bad for Israel and that we should define being supportive of Israel by supporting Israel's declaration of independence."

Instead of appearing at the JCC in Dunwoody, as planned for months, Wednesday's booksigning and talk was downtown at the Margaret Mitchell House. More than 200 people packed into the facility to hear Beinart speak and more than 75 were on the waiting list.

Some in the Jewish community are disappointed that Beinart's invite was rescinded, like Chuck Taylor, a fourth-generation Jewish Atlantan and a member of the National Advisory Board of J-Street, an educational non-profit.

"I see it as trying to stop a conversation from happening," Taylor said. "Otherwise if it weren't censorship, they would have said we will remain a part of this, we will partner. This will still be part of the book festival, just not on our campus."

The JCC's President, Steven Cadranel, says the difficult decision was a response to many upset members.

"We are open to everyone and everyone's ideas, but we need to be responsible to our members and our patrons," Cadranel said. "We don't take a political stance to endorse or promote certain ideas or objectives. This was becoming more of a political issue and controversial issue within the greater community."

The 21st annual book festival at Atlanta's JCC continues through the weekend.

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