Tuesday, December 03, 2019

How to Fight Anti-Semitism by Bari Weiss

(hb; 2019: nonfiction)

From the inside flap

“On October 27, 2018, eleven Jews were gunned down as they prayed at their synagogue in Pittsburgh. It was the deadliest attack on Jews in American history.

“For most Americans, the massacre at Tree of Life, the synagogue where Bari Weiss became a bar mitzvah, came as a shock. Yet anti-Semitism is the oldest hatred, commonplace across the Middle East and on the rise for years in Europe. So that terrible morning in Pittsburgh raised a question Americans can no longer avoid. Can it happen here?

“This book is Weiss’s answer.

“Like many, Weiss long believed this country could escape the risingtide of anti-Semitism. With its promise of free speech and religion, its insistence that all people are created equal, its tolerance for difference, and its emphasis on shared ideals rather than bloodlines, America has been, even with all its flaws, a new Jerusalem for the Jewish people. But now the luckiest Jews in history are beginning to face a three-headed dragon known all to well to Jews of other times and place: the physical fear of violent assault, the moral fear of ideological vilification, and the political fear or resurgent fascism and populism.

“No longer the exclusive province of the far right, the far left, and assorted religious bigots, anti-Semitism now finds a home in identity politics as well as the reaction against identity politics, in the renewal of America First isolationism and the rise of one-world fascism, and in the spread of Islamist ideas into unlikely places.”


Fight is one of the best and most intense nonfiction books I’ve read this year. It is informative, disturbing, angry, pro-active─and life-changing, at least for this reader. Weiss, with her measured use of the above elements and logic, lays out how the hatred of Jews is a distinctive, constantly morphing horror, not rooted in a few main reasons but many. If you are interested in confronting racism or interested in the subject for other reasons, this is a should-read, one worth owning.

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