During his career as a neoconservative thinker, Norman Podhoretz has been asked no question more often than “Why are so many Jews liberals?” In this provocative book he sets out to solve this puzzle. He first offers a fascinating account of anti-Semitism in the West to show the historical roots of Jewish mistrust of the right. But, Podhoretz argues, since the Six Day War of 1967 Jewish allegiance to the left no longer makes sense, and yet most Jews continue supporting the Democratic Party and the liberal agenda. Reviewing the history of Jewish political attitudes and examining the available evidence, Podhoretz argues against the conventional explanations for Jewish liberalism—finally proposing his own.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Founded by the offspring of immigrants, Commentary began life as a voice for the marginalized and a feisty advocate for civil rights and economic justice. But just as American culture moved in its direction, it began—inexplicably to some—to veer right, becoming the voice of neoconservativism and defender of the powerful.
This lively history, based on unprecedented access to the magazine's archives and dozens of original interviews, provocatively explains that shift while recreating the atmosphere of some of the most exciting decades in American intellectual life.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
?Based on interviews with many of the leading figures and 10 years of extensive research
?Takes us behind the scenes at Commentary, Partisan Review, The Public Interest and other influential publications
The run-up to the Iraq war had provided new grist for this theory. A group of largely Jewish neoconservatives were among the architects of the war, and their motivations for removing Saddam Hussein were alternately ascribed to oil interests and the need to protect Israel. The allegations against these neoconservatives—especially former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz—echoed the case of the notorious Jonathan Pollard who pled guilty of spying for Israel in 1986.
In this biting and incisive polemic, journalist and author Stephen Schwartz confronts the myth of a Jewish lobby head on, asking questions that no one else has dared to pose. What is the “Jewish lobby”? How powerful is it? What was its involvement in the preparations for war in Iraq? Was there really a “cabal” of neoconservative Jews in the administration of George W. Bush? How did AIPAC officials come to be accused, in 2004, of espionage? Above all, what is good for the Jews, and who decides it?
Many of us forget that in the 1930s, a genuine home-grown fascist movement arose in America. At that time, Schwartz reminds us, it was not the official representatives of the Jewish community that stood up to the fascist goons of New York City, but Jewish socialists—the antecedents of today’s neoconservatives. Likewise, today, it has not been the meek and timid leaders of the supposedly all-powerful Jewish Lobby that have defended the Jews but the reviled “neocons” in the Bush Administration. Their strategic vision projects a foreign policy that is both good for America and good for the Jews. As a result, Schwartz predicts an increasing turn for Jewish voters away from their dysfunctional marriage with the Democratic Party and toward the Republicans.
Ultimately Schwartz concludes that in today's America, a “Jewish lobby” may no longer be necessary. In the face of the threatened collapse of the Lobby, he argues, American Jews should openly and proudly assume their proper role as moral and religious exemplars for their fellow Americans and cease acting like a frightened minority.
Podhoretz was the trailblazer of the now-famous journey of a number of his fellow intellectuals from radicalism to conservatism -- a journey through which they came to exercise both cultural and political influence far beyond their number. With this fascinating account of his once happy and finally troubled relations with these cultural icons, Podhoretz helps us understand why that journey was undertaken and just how consequential it became. In the process we get a brilliantly illuminating picture of the writers and intellectuals who have done so much to shape our world.
Combining a personal memoir with literary, social, and political history, this unique gallery of stern and affectionate portraits is as entertaining as a novel and at the same time more instructive about postwar American culture than a formal scholarly study. Interwoven with these tales of some of the most quixotic and scintillating of contemporary American thinkers are themes that are introduced, developed, and redeveloped in a variety of contexts, with each appearance enriching the others, like a fugue in music. It is all here: the perversity of brilliance; the misuse of the mind; the benightedness of people usually considered especially enlightened; their human foibles and olympian detachment; the rigors to be endured and the prizes to be won and the prices to be paid for the reflective life.
Most people live their lives in a very different way, and at one point, in a defiantly provocative defense of the indifference shown to the things by which intellectuals are obsessed, Norman Podhoretz says that Socrates' assertion that the unexamined life was not worth living was one of the biggest lies ever propagated by a philosopher. And yet, one comes away from Ex-Friends feeling wistful for a day when ideas really mattered and when there were people around who cared more deeply about them than about anything else. Reading of a time when the finest minds of a generation regularly gathered in New York living rooms to debate one another with an articulateness, a passion, and a level of erudition almost extinct, we come to realize how enviable it can be to live a life as poignantly and purposefully examined as Norman Podhoretz's is in Ex-Friends.
Today, relations between blacks and Jews may be at an all-time low. Hardy a month goes by without fresh outbreaks of hostility and conflict. Controversial figures like Louis Farrakhan, Khalid Mohammed, and Leonard Jeffries fuel Jewish fears about a rising tide of black anti-Semitism—fears that were horribly confirmed for many Jews by the anti-Jewish riots in Crown Heights in the summer of 1991—and blacks respond with bitter charges of Jewish hypocrisy and racism.
What went wrong between blacks and Jews? Historian Murray Friedman, also a long-time civil rights activist, takes this question as the starting point for the first authoritative history of black-Jewish relations in America. Friedman’s book traces this long and complex relationship from colonial times to the present, engaging the revisionists at every point. He argues that the future of this important American partnership lies in the outcome of the struggle currently under way between black radical nationalists and blacks seeking coalition with Jews and other whites. “Memory,” Friedman concludes, “is the only force that can bring about a reconciliation.”