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


Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy