Podcast: Norman Podhoretz on Jerusalem and Jewish Particularity

The storied intellectual wonders why so many 21st-century men and women find Jewish particularity such a scandal.

Jerusalem in 2005. David Silverman/Getty Images.

Jerusalem in 2005. David Silverman/Getty Images.

Nov. 8 2019
About the authors

A weekly podcast, produced in partnership with the Tikvah Fund, offering up the best thinking on Jewish thought and culture.

Norman Podhoretz served as editor-in-chief of Commentary from 1960 until his retirement in 1995. He is the author of twelve books, including My Love Affair with America (2000) and Why Jews are Liberals (2009). In 2004 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

This Week’s Guest: Norman Podhoretz


In this podcast, Eric Cohen sits down with Norman Podhoretz, the eminent intellectual and storied editor of Commentary (1960-1995), to discuss his 2007 essay “Jerusalem: The Scandal of Particularity.”

The ancient capital of the Jewish people has been the center of Jewish religious life for thousands of years, and the center of modern Jewish political life for decades. This, however, hasn’t prevented the city from being the object of intense interreligious fighting over its ownership, and proposal after proposal for its physical division. “In wondering about this singling-out of one city from among all the cities in the Land of Israel,” Podhoretz writes, “I find myself ineluctably led to its larger and even more mysterious context, which is the singling-out of one people from among all the nations of the world.” Cohen talks to Podhoretz about the circumstances that inspired this essay, the moral and political significance of the city, the feelings that being in Jerusalem stirs in him, what it means for Jews to be the chosen people, and why so many 21st-century men and women find Jewish particularity such a scandal.

Courtesy of Pro Musica Hebraica, musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim, and performed by the ARC Ensemble.



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More about: Israel & Zionism, Norman Podhoretz