The Rot in the Universities Hasn’t Spared Jewish Studies

Since the war began, we have seen university students, administrators, and faculty alternately respond with cowardice, hypocrisy, and sheer anti-Semitism. But what about those scholars dedicate specifically to Jewish concerns? On Monday October 9, the Association of Jewish Studies (AJS)—a body whose members are overwhelmingly Jewish—issued a statement of “deep sorrow for the loss of life” that, in Daniel B. Schwartz’s words, “managed the rare feat of being both drab and discordant.” It seemed especially milquetoast when compared with the forceful statements the AJS issued after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, or the renewed Russian assault on Ukraine in 2022.

The next day, after receiving much criticism, the AJS’s executive committee issued a new, somewhat bolder statement. Schwartz describes his reaction:

That’s more like it, I thought. But on a second reading, I noticed something—or rather its absence. here was now an agent—Hamas—and specific actions, but there wasn’t exactly an object. Civilians were targeted in Israel, but what sort of civilians? We know that tourists, Thai workers, and Arabs were murdered, maimed, raped, and kidnapped along with the Jewish residents of the towns, kibbutzim, and moshav on the Gaza border. But we also know that the aim of Hamas was to kill, torture, and terrorize Jews. Indeed, they have gloried in precisely that in their social media posts about the attack, and, after all, it is infamously called for in their chartering document.

Why did the half-dozen distinguished scholars who form the executive committee of the Association of Jewish Studies first feel obligated to obfuscate about the terrible events to which they were ostensibly responding and then, even after resolving to speak more frankly, still find it hard to speak of Jews? After all, they (we) are, in one way or another, the subject of their academic life work. I wasn’t in the room, but I have a guess, and so, I bet, do you.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Academia, Gaza War 2023, Jewish studies

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship