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Sun May 6, 2018, 04:49 AM

(Jewish Group) There's More to Being Jewish Than Fighting Anti-Semitism


A Jewish journalist lives in the big city. He is largely secular and proudly defies religious traditions; he runs easily with his generation’s cohort of elite writers and thinkers. When evidence of virulent anti-Semitism begins to emerge around him, he is shocked. Jews must wake up and recognize their dire situation, he thinks. If only they could band together, he imagines, Jews could not just survive, but thrive: a light unto the nations, modeling humanitarianism and tolerance.

This was the story of Theodor Herzl, who is credited as the founder of political Zionism and the father of the State of Israel. But it is also the story of Jonathan Weisman, a New York Times reporter who has written a book, (((Semitism))), about the peculiar challenges of being an American Jew in 2018. Both men became aware, rather suddenly, of the potency of anti-Semitism; both have called for a strengthening of Jewish identity in a time of relative Jewish empowerment. Herzl looked east, aspiring to create a Jewish state in Palestine. More than a century later, the success of Herzl’s solution has become Weisman’s major grievance: The writer complains that American Jewish organizations have all become “enthralled with [the] same mission … all spoke of, lobbied on, and raised money for Israel, Israel, Israel.” Meanwhile, he says, neo-Nazis grab headlines, shouting slogans like “Hail victory!” and “You will not replace us!” at rallies on the National Mall. When this happened last summer, Weisman says, “The Jews slept.”

Weisman’s book never overcomes this foundational flaw: It is based on the wildly inaccurate claim that American Jews are not talking about, thinking about, and calling out anti-Semitism. Weisman, alarmed by swirling hatred and lack of Jewish communal cohesion, seems to have cast about for someone to blame and settled on Jews themselves; his facts are wobbly and his prescriptions are thin. Yet the urgency of his project—finding a unified Jewish identity in a time of fracture, assimilation, and recurring bigotry—marks a development that has been unimaginable to Jews for two or three generations: Once again, hate toward Jews is rising. Once again, Jews are distressingly divided. Once again, there is no easy solution to protect Jews’ moral, political, or physical future.

As its title suggests, Weisman’s book identifies virulent anti-Semitism as the major existential challenge facing American Jewry, a perpetual nightmare that reemerges, cicada-like, in every generation. The Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish organization that most actively tracks anti-Semitism in the U.S., reported a major spike in anti-Jewish hate in 2017. Weisman himself has been a target. Like other prominent journalists, he had his Twitter account flooded with hundreds upon hundreds of anti-Semitic memes and slurs. He was marked for the onslaught when a user placed triple parentheses around his name, allowing trolls to locate him easily through a clever web-browser tool. He now wields the parentheses defiantly in his Twitter profile. Appropriately, the marks also decorate the title of his book.

While the problem of anti-Semitism is not novel to the Trump era, Weisman argues, the president has not actively discouraged bigotry, blowing enough dog whistles and making enough excuses to leave far-right agitators feeling empowered. “Whether he knew it or not, Donald Trump ran the most anti-Semitic presidential campaign in modern American history,” Weisman writes. “Haplessness is not a defense.”



I am interested in this book, but I know the kind of claptrap that is in it and I am glad it is getting called out.

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Reply (Jewish Group) There's More to Being Jewish Than Fighting Anti-Semitism (Original post)
Behind the Aegis May 2018 OP
appalachiablue May 2018 #1

Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Sun May 6, 2018, 09:35 AM

1. K & R Glad to know about Weisman's book and the important issues raised.

The seriousness and dangers facing Jews and others now is growing week by week it seems.

The review by the Post is shorter and also makes some good points like the rise of Anti Semitic haters prominent among video gamers and the Jewish leaders and groups who are speaking out including several women, and more.


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