THE SPINE JANUARY 31, 2007
Alvin Rosenfeld is a professor of literature and of Jewish history at the University of Indiana, an eminent scholar and a balanced and persuasive writer. So why has a relatively short essay--it's less than 30 pages--of his caused conniptions among radical Jewish intellectuals? First, see the article by Patricia Cohen about this furor in today's New York Times. Then, one-up the glib talkers and read the actual document that has provoked the controversy.
The essay is about the anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism of fashionable Jewish intellectuals on the radical left. This is no longer a marginal phenomenon, and people who were once on the periphery when they were dealing with general subjects are now in the limelight so long as they attack their own. This is a very corrupting syndrome. You've read in this magazine, for example, Leon Wieseltier on Tony Judt several times (see here and here.)
But this work by Rosenfeld (published by the American Jewish Committee) is a comprehensive analysis. If these Jews were honest they would not been able to look themselves in the mirror. But they are not deeply honest... and so...
And, by the way, I've got a short essay about George Soros, only a faux intellectual, self-corrupted as both an American and a Jew. OK, maybe the point is that he isn't a Jew. So to what extent does he think of himself as an American, he who is so vexed by tribalism and so animated by greed?