The Last of the New York Jewish Intellectuals?

Jan. 25 2017

Along with Norman Podhoretz, writes Daniel DiSalvo, Nathan Glazer is likely the last of a group of Jews, centered in New York City, who played such an outsized role in politics and the life of the mind in the U.S. in the middle of the last century. A sociologist by training, Glazer wrote on an astonishing array of topics. Selections from his work, together with several appraisals thereof, have recently been published in a volume titled When Ideas Mattered. DiSalvo writes in his review:

The son of Yiddish-speaking Jewish immigrants from Poland, Glazer grew up in East Harlem. He attended the City College of New York and then split his professional life between magazines and the academy. . . .

In his student days at City College, he was a part of Zionist-socialist group that argued with Stalinists, and he later became a staunch anti-Communist. He first came to national attention as David Riesman’s junior co-author of The Lonely Crowd (which remains among the greatest bestsellers of American sociology) in 1953. A decade later, based on ideas tested in the pages of Commentary, Glazer published Beyond the Melting Pot (with Daniel Patrick Moynihan contributing a chapter and writing the preface), which became a classic in the study of immigrants and ethnicity in America. . . .

Glazer cultivated and practiced intellectual virtues that are in increasingly short supply, including dispassion, humility, and love of debate. . . . Any reader of Glazer will appreciate in his writings the empathy for his subjects and his humility when confronted with the messiness of reality. Glazer’s personal grace and self-effacing style rarely made colleagues feel personally attacked even when he was witheringly critical of positions they held dear.

When Ideas Mattered shines light on the enduring themes of Glazer’s work. The first is Glazer’s lifelong interest in America’s “ethnic pattern.” In his study of immigrant assimilation in New York, he showed that Jews, Irish, Italians, Polish, and other groups continued to maintain dual identities rather than completely assimilating into a preexisting American identity. Assimilation took a long time—even with the help of epoch-making events like depression and war. And the overarching American identity that the ethnics assimilated into changed in the process.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Daniel Patrick Moynihan, History & Ideas, Neoconservatism, New York City, Norman Podhoretz, Sociology

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy