Outspoken Experts Explode the Myths
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 A superb collection of 20 essays on American anti-Semitism seen in historical, sociological, political, psychological, and other perspectives by leading academics, Jewish communal professionals, journalists, and one particularly articulate and forceful writer (Anne Roiphe). Despite a moderate increase of vandalism and assaults against Jews and their institutions, in recent years anti-Semitic sentiments have declined steadily in the US. Various contributors adduce a plethora of reasons for this decline, from the growing acceptance of pluralism to the effect of anti-discrimination laws to generational and class factors (those over 65 are twice as likely to have anti-Semitic attitudes as those under 65; individuals in lower socioeconomic groups are more prone to bias). What of black anti-Semitism? Hatred of Jews in that community, as in others, is inversely correlated with level of education, despite the efforts of such hate-mongers as Leonard Jeffries and Khalid Muhammad. (That college-educated blacks tend to be more anti- Semitic than their less-educated peers is one myth that several authors of this study genuinely do ``explode.'') Why then is American Jewry so obsessed with anti-Semitism? Undoubtedly, the trauma of the Holocaust is one reason. Another may be that, as political analyst Barry Rubin and historian Arthur Hertzberg note, anti-Semitism is almost ``needed'' as a spur to ethnic identity. Also, political trends can change abruptly, so while the Jewish communal focus shifts to issues of Jewish education and continuity, anti-Semitism will and should remain a major, if not the preeminent, concern. Chanes's introductory essay, Jonathan Rieder's in-depth contextualization of the 1991 Crown Heights riot, and Barry Rubin's essay on ``American Jews, Israel, and the Psychological Role of Antisemitism'' alone are worth the asking price of this volume. Forget the hyperbolic subtitlethese pieces generally are measured, thoughtful, and well documented.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1-55972-290-8
Page count: 320pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1995