In Her New Book on Anti-Semitism, Bari Weiss Bravely States the Obvious

Sept. 11 2019

In How to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bari Weiss points out that anti-Semitism is as much a creature of the left as of the right, and that the anti-Zionism that has overtaken progressive circles and college campuses is indistinguishable from other forms of hatred of Jews. That the book must be judged brave for saying so, and that Weiss has attracted so much vitriol for holding these opinions, writes Hillel Halkin in his review, is “a badge of shame for the ‘progressive’ America” of which Weiss considers herself a part. Halkin praises the book for its “careful organization and articulate prose,” and the force with which it makes its main arguments. But he also finds certain aspects “disappointing”:

[N]owhere in her book does Weiss indicate that—apart from its anti-Zionism—she has any problem with the deadening mental conformity of contemporary American liberalism. The question she never raises is why someone of her intelligence should want to belong to such a world. “Maintain your liberalism,” a section of her book’s last (and least convincing) chapter exhorts the reader as one of its prescriptions for fighting anti-Semitism. To what end? At what intellectual and moral price?

Weiss fails to realize that she herself is an example of the wishful thinking about Judaism that is ubiquitous among American Jewish liberals. One might call this the Judaism of the Sunday school, a religion of love, tolerance, respect for the other, democratic values, and all the other virtues to which American Jews pay homage. This is a wondrous Judaism indeed—and one that has little to do with anything that Jewish thought or observance has historically stood for.

Judaism as liberalism with a prayer shawl is a distinctly modern development. It started with the 19th-century Reform movement in Germany, from which it spread to America with the reinforcement of the left-wing ideals of the Russian Jewish labor movement. As much as such a conception of their ancestors’ faith has captured the imagination of most American Jews, it is hard to square it with 3,000 years of Jewish tradition.

Get unlimited access to Mosaic: Subscribe now

Welcome to Mosaic

Register now to get two more stories FREE.

Register Now

Get unlimited access to Mosaic: Subscribe now

Welcome to Mosaic

Register now to get two more stories FREE.

Register Now

Read more at New York Times

More about: American Judaism, Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Liberalism

With Talk of Annexation, Benny Gantz Sends a Message to the U.S.

Jan. 24 2020

On Tuesday, the former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, who is campaigning for a third time to oust Benjamin Netanyahu from the Israeli premiership, announced that if elected he will seek to annex the Jordan Valley. He added the important caveat that he wants to do so “in coordination with the international community”—a promise that, as many have pointed out, is nearly impossible to fulfill. While it is easy to speculate about the political calculations behind this pledge, Jonathan Tobin suggests that it is also intended as a message to American liberals:

Sign up to read more.

You've read all your free articles for this month. Sign up now for unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture and politics.

Register Now

Sign up to read more.

You've read all your free articles for this month. Sign up now for unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture and politics.

Register Now

Read more at JNS

More about: Benny Gantz, Democrats, Israeli Election 2020, Jordan Valley, U.S. Politics