In America, Jewish Studies Suffers from a De-Judaization of Scholarship and Disavowal of National Particularism

In 2020, while participating in an online panel on the current state of the study of Jewish history, sponsored by the U.S.-based Association for Jewish Studies, the Yeshiva University professor Joshua Karlip got the sense that something was not right in his field:

One participant noted that the first two decades of the 21st century have witnessed a rise in studies of the history of anti-Jewish violence. In response, I offered what I considered an innocuous explanation. Over the past two decades, I suggested, Jews have experienced an alarming rise in violent attacks. Between 2000 and 2005, the second intifada targeted the Jewish civilian population of Israel, leaving nearly 1,000 dead. Here in America, we have witnessed synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh and Poway, as well as a steady stream of attacks, some deadly, on Jews who “look” like Jews—Orthodox men.

This explanation did not sit well with a senior scholar in the audience. “What you said was exceedingly Jewishly focused,” she lectured me. She then went on to “enlighten” me that those who attack Jews are not primarily targeting Jews. Rather, the true targets of their hatred are African Americans. These hatemongers simply are angry at American Jews for promoting African-American rights. She ended her disquisition with a challenge. If I were really serious about fighting anti-Semitism, she told me, I would openly ally myself with Black Lives Matter.

Add to this the hounding of scholars who have the audacity to attend meetings with the wrong people, and the increasing mainstreaming of anti-Israel sentiment, and Karlip sees a vast field of research that once flourished in America as going into decline—even as it is more robust than ever in Israel. Underlying these problems, he argues, is a willingness to achieve

acceptance into the political and cultural mainstream in exchange for a disavowal of Jewish national particularism. The academic corollary of this trend was the de-Judaization of their scholarship. Their own often scant Jewish knowledge has abetted this process. With up to 80 percent of contemporary American Jewish scholars not able to read Hebrew sources fluently, is it any wonder that they have adopted the progressive left’s rejection of Zionism and Israel as a “settler colonialism” that displaced “indigenous populations”?

Read more at Commentary

More about: Academia, American Jewry, Israel on campus, Jewish studies

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy