Founded in 1969 when the field was still in its infancy in the U.S., the Association for Jewish Studies has since then been the primary organization for academic Jewish scholarship in North America. The latest issue of AJS Perspectives, its biannual magazine, suggests to Joshua Karlip that the group’s acceptance of the worst traits of contemporary progressivism has born predictable fruit:
In its just-published “Justice Issue,” AJS Perspectives had an opportunity to address the rich history of Jewish thought on the topic of justice. . . . In their faithful reflection of current progressive orthodoxies, several of the journal’s contributors [instead] perpetuated anti-Semitic tropes regarding two contemporary targets of Jew-hatred: Orthodox Jews and Israel.
Joshua Shanes’s contribution, “Social Justice and Orthodoxy,” was particularly offensive. . . . According to Shanes, Orthodox Jews view the issue of social justice solely in terms of its impact on their communities and think only of how they can impose their values on everyone else. But how can one seriously discuss the relationship between social justice and Orthodoxy without writing about the legion of Orthodox charitable and volunteer-service organizations, most of which serve the entire Jewish community and beyond?
Shanes ended his screed by referring to a “smug confidence in Orthodox superiority” as “the cornerstone of Orthodox identity since its inception in Germany.” I doubt that AJS would have chosen to publish this if it had been said of Muslims or Catholics.
“The Justice Issue” also demonizes the state of Israel. . . . Atalia Omer’s article “Jewish Justice as Historical Praxis in Israel/Palestine” [asserts that] Zionists, through their “transnational discursive hasbarah (or public diplomacy)” have made it “increasingly difficult to differentiate between Zionism and Judaism,” thereby “introducing an ahistorical attitude toward the praxis of Jewish justice.” . . . In addition, Omer decried the Oslo peace process as an “illusion and delusion.” . . . Ultimately, Omer chillingly concluded, the antidote to Oslo is the “restorative justice” of dismantling the Zionist project through the end of Israel as the Jewish nation-state.