JEWISH IDENTITY AND THE JDL by Janet L. Dolgin

JEWISH IDENTITY AND THE JDL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An abstruse investigation of the JDL's processes of self-definition and identity formation during the period 1968-1972. Heavily mired in scholasticism, Dolgin nonetheless pinpoints three stages of the JDL's evolution: their beginnings as a neighborhood defense group and vigilante organization (the Jewish Panthers); their turn to the cause of international (especially Soviet) Jewry; and, following Rabbi Kahane's migration to Israel, the espousal of Zionism and the aliyah. At each stage Dolgin identifies Events (often spectacularly rigged for the media) and the reification of myth to suit the organization's needs. From the start, their claims to speak for real Jews or ""New Jews"" was predicated on dissociation from the ""Other""--which comprised both old-line Jewish organizations (such as B'Nai Brith and the Jewish Congress) and all non Jews. It was a paradoxical goal--an absolutist, universal invoicing of ""blood"" and ""code for conduct"" vying uncomfortably with an exclusionist and elitist sense of Self. The book is unusually heavy going because Dolgin, an anthropology professor, feels beholden to Sartre, Marcuse, Arendt, et al., and doesn't spare her readers. For the tenacious few.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Princeton Univ. Press