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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Jews and multiculturalism

Yale Computer Science Professor David Gelernter writes about some of the reactions he's gotten to his new book Judaism: A Way of Being.
[M]ulticulturalism among Jews has a special, tragic resonance. It is a wickedly tempting overdose of morphine to a patient who has suffered too long.

Jews have said they are God’s chosen people--and many are desperate to unsay it. History has proved their chosenness again and again; the Jews are God’s lightning rod, and mankind has struck them with explosive rage in every generation—rage at the idea that man must not be a mere animal satisfying his animal wants; that man doesn’t merely live but performs in a theater of God and must judge himself by God’s own standards. Rage over the invention of conscience. The Jews have paid dearly for their influence, their importance, their centrality to the history of the West and the world. Can you blame them for wanting, desperately, that soothing syringe-full of oblivion? Multiculturalism is uniquely appealing to Jews in its idea that, after all, all nations are the same, all are equally good and equally bad; multiculturalism is the perfect way for Jews to atone for the sin of chosenness. The last thing Jews want is to hear that they have been vindicated by history, have been right all along, because that means they must go on living. Must go on being Jews. And in every generation, b’kol dor va’dor, evil men will rise up against them and against their children.

Of course boasting is bad whoever does it. Chauvinism is bad. Arrogance is bad. But it’s also bad not to know who you are. The Jews owe it to their ancestors, their children, and their own selves to know how they have changed history. Having figured it out, they must speak of it without arrogance or preening, but they must speak. Young Jews in America are increasingly in danger of valuing at zero the continued survival of the Jewish people—or of valuing it at the price of some folk music, some recipes, a few stale crumbs of Yiddish and a pocketful of loose Chanukah gelt.
When I started reading The Israel Test and I told someone what it was about, they said that they didn't want to read it because it sounds like one of those books that proves that all the things the anti-Semites say about us are true (and she's not multi-culti by any stretch). Hmmm.

Maybe I should buy her Gelernter's book?


At 12:17 PM, Blogger Abu Yussif said...

jewsih israel is the most multicultural place i've seen in my life. and i've been around this world.


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