Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

Around the Web

Some important law-and-religion stories from around the web:

Jacobs, “Jews and Leftist Politics”

Last month, the Cambridge University Press released “Jews and Leftist Politics: Judaism, Israel, Antisemitism, and Gender,” by Jack Jacobs (John Jay College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York).  The publisher’s description follows: 

The relationships, past and present, between Jews and the political left remain of abiding interest to both the academic community and the public. Jews and Leftist 9781107047860Politics contains new and insightful chapters from world-renowned scholars and considers such matters as the political implications of Judaism; the relationships of leftists and Jews; the histories of Jews on the left in Europe, the United States, and Israel; contemporary anti-Zionism; the associations between specific Jews and Communist parties; and the importance of gendered perspectives. It also contains fresh studies of canonical figures, including Gershom Scholem, Gustav Landauer, and Martin Buber, and examines the affiliations of Jews to prominent institutions, calling into question previous widely held assumptions. The volume is characterized by judicious appraisals made by respected authorities, and sheds considerable light on contentious themes.

Junginger, “The Scientification of the ‘Jewish Question’ in Nazi Germany”

In April, Brill Publishers will release The Scientification of the “Jewish Question” in Nazi Germany by Horst Junginger (University of Leipzig). The publisher’s description follows:

The Scientification.jpgThe Scientification of the “Jewish Question” in Nazi Germany describes the attempt of a considerable number of German scholars to counter the vanishing influence of religious prejudices against the Jews with a new antisemitic rationale. As anti-Jewish stereotypes of an old-fashioned soteriological kind had become dysfunctional under the pressure of secularization, a new, more objective explanation was needed to justify the age-old danger of Judaism in the present. In the 1930s a new research field called “Judenforschung” (Jew research) emerged. Its leading figures amalgamated racial and religious features to verify the existence of an everlasting “Jewish problem”. Along with that they offered scholarly concepts for its solution.

Panel Discussion: “Religious Freedom and Anti-Semitism in Contemporary Europe” (Feb. 9)

On Thursday February 9, The King’s College and Princeton University’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions is sponsoring a panel discussion titled “Religious Freedom and Anti-Semitism in Contemporary Europe” at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. A description of the event follows:

Religious Freedom and Anti-Semitism in Contemporary Europe.pngFollowing the Second World War, the world said “never again” to the hatred that produced the Holocaust, but Anti-Semitism, which was never fully eradicated in Europe, has returned with a vengeance. According to the French Interior Ministry, over 50 percent of France’s bias motivated crimes in 2014 targeted Jews, even though French Jewry makes up less than one percent of the population. The currents driving this tragedy across Europe are several: the scapegoating of Jews for social decline by right-wing nationalists; the radicalization of Muslim immigrants by certain extremist Imams goading them to violence; and the “open-mindedness” of secularized Europe, which refuses to acknowledge Islamist violence and combat it. This toxic environment has led some to ask whether the Jews living in Europe today may soon leave the continent altogether.

Please join us on Thursday evening, February 9th for a panel discussion at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan. Co-sponsored by The King’s College and Princeton University’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, the panel will explore the sources of and possible responses to the revival of Anti-Semitism in Europe.

Panelists
Rabbi Dr. David G. Dalin, Author and Professor Emeritus of History and Politics at Ave Maria University
Professor Mary Ann Glendon
, Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School
Rabbi Dr. Meir Y. Soloveichik, Rabbi at Congregation Shearith Israel

Moderator
Professor Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University

More information on the event can be found here.

 

Kaufmann, “Luther’s Jews”

In March, Oxford University Press will release Luther’s Jews: A Journey into Anti-Semitism by Thomas Kaufmann (University of Gottingen). The publisher’s description follows:

luthers-jewsIf there was one person who could be said to light the touch-paper for the epochal transformation of European religion and culture that we now call the Reformation, it was Martin Luther. And Luther and his followers were to play a central role in the Protestant world that was to emerge from the Reformation process, both in Germany and the wider world.

In all senses of the term, this religious pioneer was a huge figure in European history. Yet there is also the very uncomfortable but at the same time undeniable fact that he was an anti-semite. Written by one of the world’s leading authorities on the Reformation, this is the vexed and sometimes shocking story of Martin Luther’s increasingly vitriolic attitude towards the Jews over the course of his lifetime, set against the backdrop of a world in religious turmoil.

A final chapter then reflects on the extent to which the legacy of Luther’s anti-semitism was to taint the Lutheran church over the following centuries. Scheduled for publication on the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation’s birth, in light of the subsequent course of German history it is a tale both sobering and ominous in equal measure.

Levy, “The Genius of Judaism”

Next month, Penguin Random House will release a new book by philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, The Genius of Judaism. The book discusses contemporary anti-Semitism and argues that Western democratic ideals have Jewish roots. Here’s the publisher’s description:

9780812992724For more than four decades, Bernard-Henri Lévy has been a singular figure on the world stage—one of the great moral voices of our time. Now Europe’s foremost philosopher and activist confronts his spiritual roots and the religion that has always inspired and shaped him—but that he has never fully reckoned with.

The Genius of Judaism is a breathtaking new vision and understanding of what it means to be a Jew, a vision quite different from the one we’re used to. It is rooted in the Talmudic traditions of argument and conflict, rather than biblical commandments, borne out in struggle and study, not in blind observance. At the very heart of the matter is an obligation to the other, to the dispossessed, and to the forgotten, an obligation that, as Lévy vividly recounts, he has sought to embody over decades of championing “lost causes,” from Bosnia to Africa’s forgotten wars, from Libya to the Kurdish Peshmerga’s desperate fight against the Islamic State, a battle raging as we speak. Lévy offers a fresh, surprising critique of a new and stealthy form of anti-Semitism on the rise as well as a provocative defense of Israel from the left. He reveals the overlooked Jewish roots of Western democratic ideals and confronts the current Islamist threat while intellectually dismantling it. Jews are not a “chosen people,” Lévy explains, but a “treasure” whose spirit must continue to inform moral thinking and courage today.

Lévy’s most passionate book, and in many ways his most personal, The Genius of Judaism is a great, profound, and hypnotic intellectual reckoning—indeed a call to arms—by one of the keenest and most insightful writers in the world.

 

Chazan, “From Anti-Judaism to Anti-Semitism”

This month, Cambridge University Press releases From Anti-Judaism to Anti-Semitism:
Ancient and Medieval Christian Constructions of Jewish History by Robert Chazan (New York University). The publisher’s description follows:

from-anti-judiasm-to-anti-semitismFrom its earliest days, Christianity has viewed Judaism and Jews ambiguously. Given its roots within the Jewish community of first-century Palestine, there was much in Judaism that demanded church admiration and praise; however, as Jews continued to resist Christian truth, there was also much that had to be condemned. Major Christian thinkers of antiquity – while disparaging their Jewish contemporaries for rejecting Christian truth – depicted the Jewish past and future in balanced terms, identifying both positives and negatives. Beginning at the end of the first millennium, an increasingly large Jewish community began to coalesce across rapidly developing northern Europe, becoming the object of intense popular animosity and radically negative popular imagery. The portrayals of the broad trajectory of Jewish history offered by major medieval European intellectual leaders became increasingly negative as well. The popular animosity and the negative intellectual formulations were bequeathed to the modern West, where they had tragic consequences in the twentieth century. In this book, Robert Chazan traces the path that began as anti-Judaism, examining how it evolved into antisemitism.

Cesarani, “Disraeli”

This month, the Yale University Press will release “Disraeli: The Novel Politician,” by David Cesarani (Royal Holloway, University of London).  The publisher’s description follows:

Lauded as a “great Jew,” excoriated by antisemites, and one of Britain’s most renowned prime ministers, Benjamin Disraeli has been widely celebrated for his role 45eea7288533ef9fcae4ba0676f7a9c2in Jewish history. But is the perception of him as a Jewish hero accurate? In what ways did he contribute to Jewish causes? In this groundbreaking, lucid investigation of Disraeli’s life and accomplishments, David Cesarani draws a new portrait of one of Europe’s leading nineteenth-century statesmen, a complicated, driven, opportunistic man.

While acknowledging that Disraeli never denied his Jewish lineage, boasted of Jewish achievements, and argued for Jewish civil rights while serving as MP, Cesarani challenges the assumption that Disraeli truly cared about Jewish issues. Instead, his driving personal ambition required him to confront his Jewishness at the same time as he acted opportunistically. By creating a myth of aristocratic Jewish origins for himself, and by arguing that Jews were a superior race, Disraeli boosted his own career but also contributed to the consolidation of some of the most fundamental stereotypes of modern antisemitism.

What’s Happening in Argentina?

I confess I don’t follow Argentine politics. So when an Argentine friend posted the message “Yo Soy Nisman” on her Facebook page this week, I didn’t get the reference. I asked her about it, and she directed me to several news items on the death Sunday of an Argentine prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, who was about to testify about an alleged deal to immunize the perpetrators of one of the worst anti-Semitic attacks in recent history. It is an astonishing story.

In 1994, a bomb exploded at a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people. Iranian agents are suspected, and Interpol has issued arrest warrants against some Iranian officials. This month, Nisman accused the Argentine president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirschner, of blocking the investigation. Kirschner, he claimed, had made a secret agreement with Iran to shield the officials from prosecution in exchange for Iranian oil. He filed a criminal complaint against her and her foreign minister, Hector Timerman. Both Kirschner and Timerman deny the charge. They say that Nisman was being manipulated by their political opponents.

Nisman had an appointment to testify before Argentine legislators on Monday. On Sunday, police found him dead in his apartment, with a gunshot wound to the head. Kirschner first called the death a suicide, which is how the police described it. Many Argentines were skeptical, as Nisman had left no note and forensic evidence didn’t point to a suicide.

Now, apparently, Ms. Kirschner is skeptical as well. On her website yesterday, she wrote that she believes Nisman was murdered–implicitly, by the same people who had manipulated him to bring the charges against her in the first place. “They used him while he was alive and then they needed him dead,” she wrote. Presumably, the plot was to get Nisman to indict Kirschner on phony charges, and then kill him before the plot against Kirschner could be revealed.

So: A prosecutor claims he has evidence that the president has made a secret deal with a foreign country to cover up a attack on a religious minority that killed 85 people, then dies under mysterious circumstances the day before he is to testify. The president first claims it’s a suicide, then changes her mind and says, without providing evidence, that it’s a murder directed, ultimately, at her. Does any of this make sense? What’s happening in Argentina?

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