The Association for Jewish Studies Surrenders to Progressive Hatred for the Wrong Kinds of Jews

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.

Read more at JNS

More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Jewish studies

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus