JEWISH POWER

INSIDE THE AMERICAN JEWISH ESTABLISHMENT

This eye-opening examination of the myths and realities of Jewish influence in America is bound to raise hackles in the Jewish community. Some will accuse Goldberg, a contributing editor to the magazine Jerusalem Report and longtime reporter on Jewish affairs, of washing dirty laundry in public by airing internal Jewish power struggles. Others will say the mere title of his book will feed stereotypes of Jewish control over various American institutions. All will exemplify some of the very phenomena Goldberg is writing about, in particular, the persistence of American Jewish insecurity in the face of communal influence out of proportion to Jews' numbers in the population. In his excellent reporting and analysis, and his refusal to accept simplistic bromides, Goldberg reveals the complexities and contradictions of Jewish power in America, which, he argues, is less than many non-Jews fear but greater than many Jews (particularly the unaffiliated) know. Goldberg explodes many of the myths surrounding the Jewish role in the media, in politics, in lobbying for Israel. But perhaps most controversial is his contention that, starting in the late 1960s, the leadership of the organized Jewish community was hijacked by conservatives—a mix of right-wing Orthodox, neoconservative, and radical Zionist individuals—who did not represent the majority of Jews, who remain overwhelmingly liberal and Democratic. This was concomitant with a shift in power to elite leadership groups like the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and away from groups closer to the grassroots. Goldberg also details the behind-the- scenes machinations and battles over the Jewish community's relationship with Israel, exemplified by Yitzhak Shamir's success in mobilizing Jewish leadership for Likud's hard-line positions during Israel's so-called ``unity'' government in the late 1980s. The first honest look at Jewish power in America and at the structure of the organized Jewish community. Anyone with an interest in Jewish affairs will find it unsettling and indispensable.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-201-62242-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1996

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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