A meticulous, precise, well-organized survey that takes into account the many different views and will certainly facilitate...

TROUBLE IN THE TRIBE

THE AMERICAN JEWISH CONFLICT OVER ISRAEL

An examination of how American Jews’ relationship with Israel has moved from unconditional support to critical engagement.

Delving into the many divisive camps of opinion that have developed over Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, settlements, a two-state solution, and so on, Waxman (Political Science, International Affairs, and Israel Studies/Northeastern Univ.; The Pursuit of Peace and the Crisis of Israeli Identity, 2006, etc.) explores how the American Jewish establishment is being challenged from without and within, to a productive rather than a polarizing end. The right-wing Israeli government’s unpalatable policies have galvanized much debate and ire within the American Jewish community, so much so that many rabbis in their congregations avoid discussion of Israel altogether. According to the traditional establishment, largely made up of older, Orthodox members, public criticism of Israel was taboo because it presented an appearance of disunity or weakness that Jewish enemies could exploit. Yet Waxman shows how robust criticism of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not new, although often stifled—e.g., the demonization of the Zionist group Breira in the 1970s, which urged negotiation with the Palestine Liberation Organization. Currently, however, the disenchantment over Israel’s policies have grown, as has the public outrage, which has been led by a younger, non-Orthodox cohort whose emphasis is on concerns of social justice and the environment—as evidenced by the growth of the Washington organization J Street, a group that is still often ostracized by the mainstream. Waxman looks at the surprisingly diverse makeup of American Jews, who still have a strong emotional attachment to Israel yet do not necessarily support the political actions of its government. The author dissects the so-called “Jewish lobby,” which is considered as indomitable as the gun lobby but is actually no longer speaking with one voice. In the end, Waxman regards the American Jewish relationship toward Israel as evolving rather than eroding.

A meticulous, precise, well-organized survey that takes into account the many different views and will certainly facilitate the heated conversation.

Pub Date: May 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-691-16899-9

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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