Allan Arkush fails to see the novelty of the theocratic idea in Judaism.
Imagine that you’re a woman living in a shtetl in 1900: what do you say in a letter to your husband in America if you think he’s cheating on you?
Whereas Heidi and her woke progeny scatter in the winds of the American landscape and the heirs of Yitzy and Ben find themselves growing further apart, their Israeli counterparts find themselves socializing together, mostly serving in the army together, and sharing a Jewish cultural vocabulary.
It may seem as though a religious tradition like Judaism would have no home in a philosophical ecosystem that cultivates nothing but a specific mode of intellectual engagement. But it is precisely the lack of a positive dogma that makes analytic philosophy compatible with the basic tenets of Judaism—at least that’s the premise of Jewish Philosophy in an Analytic Age.
As it is, The Orchard reads more like Days of Our Lives than Daniel Deronda.
Most liberal Israelis once believed the 1990s-era Western narrative about Israeli-Palestinian peace: that the Palestinians would eventually be satisfied with a state alongside Israel, that everyone desired the same kind of progress, that maximalist rhetoric on the Arab side masked more modest goals, and that the Palestinian talk about millions of refugees and their “right of return” to Israel was a starting position that was bound to be bargained away.
What are we to make of Szczepan Twardoch, a non-Jewish Pole who has written a crime novel featuring a volatile Jewish gangster who, among, many nefarious acts, slices and dices a fellow Jew?
Adam Sutcliffe is an intellectual historian, not a theologian or a philosopher, so he doesn’t try to answer the question of what purpose Jews serve in the world, but he has a lot to say about the attempts to do so that Jews and non-Jews have been making for ages.
Just beneath the surface of this Holocaust memoir is, in fact, an altogether different tale: a paean to the good life in America.
How did a large number of religious Zionists come to believe a historical fantasy about the Vilna Gaon’s secret 18th-century Zionist plan?