Ds Scholarship

‘Free as a Jew’ is an Intellectual and Political Memoir

Free as a Jew: A Personal Memoir of National Self-Liberation by Ruth R. New York: Post Hill Press (c) 2021; ISBN 9781642-939705 ; 359 pages $28.

San Diego – I freely admit that I am unequal to much of this book. Since I haven’t read some of the work to which writer Ruth R. Weiss is subject to literary criticism, I have absolutely no idea whether or not her views are on target. I grew up in the tradition of journalism, initially working for the Associated Press, where I learned that readers of your stories need background information because they often “only go one day deep” into the issue under discussion. Furthermore, she learned to write for “The Milkman of Kansas City”, who supposedly had no more than an education in the sixth grade.

Professor Wess follows none of these journalistic traditions. If her readers lack the background to understand the point you’re making, that’s about them. If her writing seemed too cultured for mass consumption, she wasn’t writing for general audience In any case. Wes founded the Department of Jewish Studies at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and later accepted him from Harvard University as Professor of Yiddish and Comparative Literature. Her reading, writing and scholarship is extensive.

Wisse also has a reputation as a political commentator, particularly on matters affecting the Jewish community. its columns in comment The magazine was admired by political conservatives and vilified by political liberals. It has taken positions against the Middle East peacemaking process that began with Oslo and which continues to impress high-ranking members of President Biden’s administration, without being influenced by its opponents. She said that Israel had no interest in installing Yasser Arafat (and his successor, Mahmoud Abbas) as president of the Palestinian Authority. In doing so, it culminated in tyranny and terrorism.

Wisse has little patience for those Jews who express pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel sentiments. In her view, they are trying to gain acceptance from Jew-haters in agreement with their cause, no matter how harmful, even dangerous, their families of faith. If she was using Christian metaphors, she might compare them all to Judas, the disciple who sold Jesus to Roman authorities.

At Harvard, which is a hotbed of “progressive” anti-Israel sentiment – like many universities – Wes has always been controversial, often labeled a “racist” for her unabashed Zionist views. She made no apologies, even enjoying the distinction. It is not bound by current political norms among academics; No, she is free as a Jew.

Throughout my journalistic career, I have covered politics and dealings with Republicans, Democrats, independents, third-party advocates, and idealists of all faiths in both the United States and Israel (though not in Canada). I am used to accepting most people as my fellow human beings, each with lessons to teach me, regardless of their political affiliations.

For all of Wis’s resolutely relentless attitudes, there’s a surprise in her memoir. You might expect someone with such clear opinions to be arrogant, perhaps even intolerable. Not wise. There is a charming stream of personal humility flowing through the book. Although I found myself struggling with some of her notions, I found Wisse very likable.

Donald H. Harrison is an editor at jewish world san diego. He can be contacted at donald.harrison@sdjewishworld.com

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