A New Television Series about Jews Falls Back on Tired Stereotypes

Based on a novel of the same name by the Jewish journalist Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Fleishman Is in Trouble is a story about the titular Toby Fleishman’s recent divorce from his wife, set in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The title character and his wife are evidently Jewish, and Jewish actors—including Jesse Eisenberg as Fleishman—play major roles. To Akiva Schick, the series fails as a whole despite what he sees as the merit of the source material. It also fails more specifically as television about Jews:

As in the novel, Toby isn’t so much stressed out by the moment, but rather perpetually wound tight. (Eisenberg delivers his lines in a clipped, highly caffeinated rhythm reminiscent of Woody Allen.) Toby’s character is certainly a stereotype—neurotic Jewish doctor—and Eisenberg plays it well. It’s an excellent performance, but also a disappointing one. Surely all the Jewish talent in the show could have come together to create a fresher take on the Jewish masculinity that it’s parodying—or a fresher take on the Jewish anything, really. In a show that has been praised for its Jewishness, the cultural and religious Jewish content is actually scant.

And although Schick thinks of the well of the novel, he suggests that reviewers’ characterizations of Brodesser-Akner as “a kind of female Philip Roth” stem as much from the skill and wit of her narration as from “well-named secular Jewish characters, and all the sex.”

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: American Jewry, Philip Roth, Television


The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy