Jewish Day Schools Accept the 1619 Project to Their Own Detriment

Nov. 20 2020

This summer, the New York Times attracted much attention and controversy with its “1619 Project,” which argued that racism and slavery are the essential, defining facts of American history. Although sharply criticized by a great number of professional historians—many of whom have impeccable liberal bona fides—the 1619 Project is now being incorporated into primary- and secondary-school curricula across the country. Jewish schools and educational institutions too have jumped on the bandwagon. By doing so, writes Gil Troy, they are “silently committing ideological suicide.”

Reinterpreting American history as one long white attempt to suppress blacks robs American Jews of pride in their own achievements and delight in America’s welcome. . . . Additionally, encasing Jews in “whiteness” imposes automatic guilt on Jews by caricaturing them as white, rich, and exploitative. Naturally, because they prize whiteness, true white supremacists don’t count Jews as white.

Branding whiteness an original sin then claiming immigrants only prospered by exploiting blacks creates a history of blame and despair, not responsibility and redemption. Jews do not view life as one endless power-play. Morality, spirituality, faith, goodness, and hope are not just values in Jewish life—Jews in America and Israel have often activated them as constructive historical forces.

As a kid, I loved an already-old book from 1941 called Americans All: A Pageant of Great Americans. The list included women like Clara Barton and immigrants like Alexander Graham Bell, but neither blacks nor Jews. Still, the title welcomed me, a Jewish kid from Queens, into the American experience. My friends and I knew we had won the Jewish history jackpot. Being born into the innocence of Americans All is like being raised believing in God or praying wholeheartedly. You’re anchored for life, rooted profoundly, even if you stray or later learn hard truths muddying the picture.

Read more at Gil Troy

More about: American Jewry, Jewish education, New York Times

How Israel and Its Allies Could Have a Positive Influence on the Biden Administration’s Iran Policy

Nov. 25 2020

While the president-elect has expressed his desire to return the U.S. to the 2015 nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic, this should not in itself cause worry in Jerusalem; it has never been the Israeli government’s position that a deal with Tehran is undesirable, only that the flaws of the deal negotiated by the Obama administration outweighed its benefits. Thus Yaakov Amidror, Efraim Inbar, and Eran Lerman urge Israel to approach Joe Biden’s national-security team—whose senior members were announced this week—to urge them to act prudently:

To the greatest extent possible, such approaches should be made jointly, or in very close coordination with, Israel’s new partners in the Gulf. These countries share Israel’s perspectives on the Iranian regional threat and on the need to block Tehran’s path to nuclear weapons.

For Israel, for Iran-deal skeptics in Washington, and for her partners in the region, the first operational priority is to persuade the incoming U.S. national-security team to maintain full leverage on Iran. Sanctions against Iran should not be lifted as a “gesture” without a verified Iranian return to the status quo ante (at the very least) in terms of low-enriched-uranium stockpiles and ongoing enrichment activities.

In parallel, there may emerge a unique opportunity to close ranks with the French (and with Boris Johnson’s government in London) on the Iranian question. On several issues (above all, the struggle for hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean, against Turkey), Jerusalem, Abu Dhabi, and Paris now see eye-to-eye. On Iran, during the negotiations leading to the [deal] in 2015, the position of France was often the most robust. In 2018, President Macron was willing to reach an operational understanding with Secretary of State Pompeo on [key issues regarding the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities].

Last but certainly not least, it should be clear to the incoming U.S. national-security team that any attempt to negotiate must be, can be, and (as far as Israel is concerned) firmly will be backed by a credible military threat.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: France, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, US-Israel relations