By Fredric Price on December 10, 2020
I have some friends who think we are living in a period of deja vu that relates to what was going on in Germany just prior to Hitler assuming the chancellor’s position in 1933. Other think that this is a wild exaggeration, that we are going through a period of ‘lone wolf’ attacks that are not representative of how Jews are treated in the U.S. Some offer harangues on how the alt-right is primarily responsible for anti-Semitic attacks, while others indicate that it is the fault of the alt-left. Some say the problems have surfaced because of income inequality and others say that it is the US support for Israel that fuels these acts. As the saying goes, 10 Jews, 10 different opinions. Now, fortunately, Bari Weiss has waded into this area, and she puts her considerable reporting and analytical chops on the line in her outstanding book, “How to Fight Anti-Semitism.” This book should be required reading for every Jewish high school and college student, regardless of any person’s political orientation. We need to understand the root causes of anti-Semitic behaviors in the US today and know what we can do to respond to them effectively. Enough talk, she seems to be saying; read and relate, take action. She’s hit the mark. Below are two articles that highlight Ms. Weiss’ main points.
From the link on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3qMEbFG
WINNER OF THE NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD • “Stunning . . . Bari Weiss is heroic, fearless, brilliant and big-hearted. Most importantly, she is right.”—Lisa Taddeo, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Three Women
On October 27, 2018, eleven Jews were gunned down as they prayed at their synagogue in Pittsburgh. It was the deadliest attack on Jews in American history.
For most Americans, the massacre at Tree of Life, the synagogue where Bari Weiss became a bat mitzvah, came as a total shock. But anti-Semitism is the oldest hatred, commonplace across the Middle East and on the rise for years in Europe. So that terrible morning in Pittsburgh raised a question Americans can no longer avoid: Could it happen here?
This book is Weiss’s answer.
Like many, Weiss long believed this country could escape the rising tide of anti-Semitism. With its promise of free speech and religion, its insistence that all people are created equal, its tolerance for difference, and its emphasis on shared ideals rather than bloodlines, America has been, even with all its flaws, a new Jerusalem for the Jewish people. But now the luckiest Jews in history are beginning to face a three-headed dragon known all too well to Jews of other times and places: the physical fear of violent assault, the moral fear of ideological vilification, and the political fear of resurgent fascism and populism.
No longer the exclusive province of the far right, the far left, and assorted religious bigots, anti-Semitism now finds a home in identity politics as well as the reaction against identity politics, in the renewal of America First isolationism and the rise of one-world socialism, and in the spread of Islamist ideas into unlikely places. A hatred that was, until recently, reliably taboo is migrating toward the mainstream, amplified by social media and a culture of conspiracy that threatens us all.
Weiss is one of our most provocative writers, and her cri de couer makes a powerful case for renewing Jewish and American values in this uncertain moment. Not just for the sake of America’s Jews, but for the sake of America.
Review from The Jewish Book Council: https://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/book/how-to-fight-anti-semitism
By Linda F. Burghardt – February 4, 2020
Bari Weiss’ urgent new book may be small in size, but it packs a powerful message: there is an alarming increase in antisemitism in the United States, and every single one of us must defend ourselves. In prose that is at once calm and measured, yet strong and rousing, she sounds her clarion call to combat, articulating different types of present-day antisemites, and outlining the methods that will be most effective in bringing us out of what she sees as a rising darkness.
A New York Times staff writer and op-ed editor, Weiss says her book is for “anyone, Jew or gentile, who is concerned not with what is fashionable, but with what is true.” Weiss sees the new, dangerously high level of American antisemitism coming from the far right and the far left, and she examines each threat with an eye toward creating a balanced view of both their goals and tactics. At its core, she sees the aim of antisemitism as the elimination of the Jewish people and Judaism itself, whether this is accomplished through violence or the political destruction of the State of Israel.Weiss’s exposition of modern antisemitism is deep and layered, and her multifaceted plan for Jews and their allies to fight it is creative and insightful. She does not suggest that we stage protests, write press releases, or facilitate dialogue groups. Instead, she tells us to embrace Judaism, renew our values, and respect ourselves. Weiss states, “There has not been a single moment in Jewish history where there weren’t anti-Semites determined to eradicate Judaism and the Jews.” She urges us to call out hateful speech and actions; to defend other minorities facing bigotry, build community, and support Israel. Join more than one synagogue, she suggests, and consider reclaiming the peace that comes from observing Shabbat.
Jewish authenticity, or positivity, encourages us to be proud of our culture, and firm in our respect and admiration for our historical legacy, Weiss tells us. Strengthen our Jewish identity, and we will strengthen our image in the world.
The book also puts modern antisemitism into historical context, tracing anti-Jewish actions and attitudes through history. Weiss gives a clear sense of how precious she sees the civilization built by and for the Jews. She is an outspoken advocate for Jews and Zionism, and from the outset she makes sure the reader hears loudly and unequivocally the alarm bell that drove her to write this outstanding book.
Linda F. Burghardt is a New York-based journalist and author who has contributed commentary, breaking news, and features to major newspapers across the U.S., in addition to having three non-fiction books published. She writes frequently on Jewish topics and is now serving as Scholar-in-Residence at the Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County.
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