web analytics
April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » InDepth » Monitor »

Scaring Ourselves To Death?


Media-Monitor-logo

Share Button

The lengthy cover story in a weekly news magazine deftly sums up the profound unease afflicting U.S. Jewry. Titled “American Jews and Israel,” the piece paints a picture of a community enjoying unprecedented affluence and influence and at the same time worrying about the future of U.S.-Israel relations and the possible emergence of widespread anti-Semitism in America.

“American Jews,” the article says, “are indeed worried today, worried about Israel’s future…. Is American support for Israel weakening? What happens if U.S. interests and Israeli interests, which have always seemed to coincide in the past, should diverge? Has Jewish influence in the U.S. become an obstacle to U.S. foreign policy?”

The article quotes the president of Brandeis University: “From a Jewish point of view, the danger is that the sentiment in favor of Israel is now counteracted by declining guilt over the Holocaust and an increased sympathy for the Palestinians. And we are under great pressures of both military and economic policy that we were not under before.”

Disclosure time: The article is not exactly current. In fact, it’s not even of relatively recent vintage. It’s actually some thirty-two years old, from the March 10, 1975 issue of Time magazine. And it went on to quote some prominent American Jews expressing a near-apocalyptic level of fear:

In his book American Jews: Community in Crisis, Gerald S. Strober, a former staff member of the American Jewish Committee, predicts that current trends will make “life rather unpleasant for the individual Jew” in America, and that U.S. Jews are now entering “the most perilous period” in their history. Author and Playwright Elie Wiesel, survivor of Nazi concentration camps, claimed, in the New York Times, that for the first time he could “foresee the possibility of Jews being massacred in the cities of America or in the forests of Europe” because of “a certain climate, a certain mood in the making.” According to Author Cynthia Ozick, writing in Esquire, Israel’s survival is in grave doubt, and with it Zionism and thus all Jews.

Reading that old Time article, the Monitor couldn’t help but be reminded of Leon Wieseltier’s much-cited 2002 essay “Against Ethnic Panic: Hitler Is Dead.” Wieseltier, literary editor at The New Republic (where the piece appeared), was reacting to what he viewed as unseemly American “Jewish panic” in the wake of 9/11, the resurgent Palestinian intifada and the sharp rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

American Jews, Wieseltier wrote, were “sunk in excitability, in the imagination of disaster. There is a loss of intellectual control. Death is at every Jewish door. Fear is wild. Reason is derailed. Anxiety is the supreme proof of authenticity. Imprecise and inflammatory analogies abound. Holocaust imagery is everywhere.”

It was with this slough of despond as backdrop that Wieseltier sought to inject a sense of balance into the discussion, noting that in both the U.S. and Israel,

Jews found not only safety, but also strength. The blandishments of pluralism in America have included the fierce and unembarrassed pursuit of Jewish interests, and so brilliantly that the American Jewish community has become the model for what an ethnic group can accomplish in such conditions of freedom. The blandishments of sovereignty in Israel have conspicuously included military power. Suicide bombs are sickening; but it is the Israelis who command an army and an air force, and also a nuclear arsenal.

Hardly unmindful of the roots of what he called “the fright of American Jewry,” Wieseltier nevertheless drew a distinction between understanding and sympathy:

To a degree that is unprecedented in the history of the Jewish people, our experience is unlike the experience of our ancestors; not only our ancient ancestors, but also our recent ones…. We do not any longer possess a natural knowledge of such pains and such pressures. In order to acquire such a knowledge, we rely more and more upon commemorations – so much so that we are transforming the Jewish culture of the United States into a largely commemorative culture.But the identifications that seem to be required of us by our commemorations are harder and harder for us to make. In our hearts, the continuities feel somewhat spurious. For we are the luckiest Jews who ever lived. We are even the spoiled brats of Jewish history. And so the disparity between the picture of Jewish life that has been bequeathed to us and the picture of Jewish life that is before our eyes casts us into an uneasy sensation of dissonance…. In the absence of apocalypse, we turn to hysteria.

Share Button

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Scaring Ourselves To Death?”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Flyers ordered Jews to appear at a designated location in Ukraine, in Sept., 1941. The next day, the Jews lined up at the Babi Yar Ravine.
‘Jews Must Register’ Flyer in Ukraine an Echo of Babi Yar
Latest Indepth Stories
matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

Masked Palestinian Authority Arabs hurl blocks at Israel Police during and after "worship" at Temple Mount mosque. (archive photo)

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Bob Grant

What really makes one wonder about the affinity felt by certain Jews for Grant was the welcome mat he put out for some of the country’s most pernicious anti-Semites.

Camelot-112213

With 2013 marking half a century since Kennedy’s fateful limousine ride in Dallas, the current revels are exceeding the revisionist frenzies of years past, with a seemingly endless parade of books, articles and television specials designed to assure us that, despite everything that has come to light about him since his death, JFK was a great president, or at least a very good president who would have been great had his life not been so cruelly cut short.

As someone who for the past fifteen years has been writing a column that largely focuses on the news media, I’ve read what is no doubt an altogether unhealthy number of books on the subject. Most of them were instantly forgettable while some created a brief buzz but failed to pass the test of time. And then there were those select few that merited a permanent spot on the bookshelf.

George W. Bush has been getting some positive media coverage lately, with recent polls showing him at least as popular as his successor, Barack Obama, and a big new book about the Bush presidency by New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker (Days of Fire, Doubleday) portraying Bush as a much more hands-on chief executive than his detractors ever imagined.

Readers who’ve stuck with the Monitor over the years will forgive this rerun of sorts, but as we approach the fortieth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War – and with the stench of presidential indecisiveness hanging so heavily over Washington these days – it seemed only appropriate to revisit Richard Nixon’s role in enabling Israel to recover from the staggering setbacks it suffered in the first week of fighting.

Shakespeare had it right. The evil that men do indeed lives after them. Case in point: Nahum Goldmann, who served in a variety of Jewish and Zionist organizational leadership posts from the 1920s through the 1970s.

Oscar “Ossie” Schectman, who scored the first basket in the history of the league that evolved into the National Basketball Association, died last week at age 94.

It’s certainly been a while, hasn’t it? And yet it seems like the conversation was never really interrupted, as I’ve enjoyed, in the three and a half months since this column last appeared, many an interesting exchange, via e-mail and phone, with some very intelligent readers.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/scaring-ourselves-to-death/2007/08/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: