At once a studied academic investigation and a highly accessible contribution to popular debate, Rosenthal’s account treads...

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IRRECONILABLE DIFFERENCES?

THE WANING OF THE AMERICAN JEWISH LOVE AFFAIR WITH ISRAEL

A cogent exploration of the evolving relationship between Israel and American Jewry, from early Zionism through to the present day.

Rosenthal (The Politics of Dependency, 1980) presents a remarkably even-handed account of this ever-shifting interdependence through the analysis of certain key events in Israel’s history (viz., the invasion of Lebanon, the Pollard affair, the Intifada, and the “Who is a Jew” controversy). The author argues that the past two decades have seen a radical transformation in the nature of American Jewish support for Israel. Although America’s Jewish diaspora traditionally presented a public face of unconditional support and uncritical generosity, Rosenthal argues that there is now a great deal of fragmentation and dissent. He explains this shift as the consequence of mounting debate over Israel’s defense and security policies, its increasing wealth, its changing population, the intransigence of its right wing, and the efforts of Orthodox authorities to relegate Conservative and Reform Judaism to second-class status. This two-pronged argument suggests not only that American Jews have become disenchanted with Israel, but that the passing of time has exorcised the specter of the Holocaust (and thereby removed Zionism’s primary raison d’être). It is this combination of events in the early 1980s that lifted American Jewry’s decades-old gag rule on public criticism of the state and opened the floodgates for political dissent, a transition that Rosenthal terms “a natural reflection of the fragmentation of Israeli politics.” This work is notable first and foremost because it introduces a fresh and much-needed social perspective into a field that is overrun with political and historical analyses, and secondly because the author has labored so effectively to present a balanced story.

At once a studied academic investigation and a highly accessible contribution to popular debate, Rosenthal’s account treads a careful path though a polemical minefield.

Pub Date: April 6, 2001

ISBN: 0-87451-897-0

Page Count: 248

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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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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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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