Can Liberals Confront Anti-Semitism?
Monday, March 16, 2020
The Tikvah Center
165 East 56th St, 4th Floor, New York, NY
Doors at 6:00 PM | Lecture at 6:30 PM

For centuries, Jews have put their faith in liberal ideas of progress, toleration, and secular democracy. But what if this liberal faith has failed? Ruth Wisse, recently retired from Harvard and now a distinguished senior fellow at the Tikvah Fund, will diagnose the state of Jewish politics in the modern age.

We invite you to join us for “The Liberal Betrayal of the Jews,” a new series of lectures—generously sponsored by Zach Fasman and Andrea Udoff—taking place at the Tikvah Center in Manhattan, located at 165 East 56th Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY. In our opening lecture, Prof. Wisse will examine the extent to which anti-Jewish politics are currently gaining strength among certain political and cultural groups in the United States.

Unfortunately, we are at capacity for the first lecture in the series and can no longer accept additional registrations at this time. Interested parties can sign up to join our waitlist below, and should more seats become available we will contact you to let you know.

Save the Dates!
Subsequent lectures will take place according to the schedule below and each meeting will have its own, separate registration that will be announced and posted in the weeks leading up to the lecture.

    The U.S. Memorial Museum to the Holocaust and educational programs like “Facing History” were intended to act as a deterrent against anti-Jewish aggression: “Never Again.” Was this a realistic expectation? Was retelling the Nazi annihilation of one-third of the Jewish people expected to inspire confidence in the Jews or in Judaism? With anti-Semitism on the rise—and with Jewish identity and commitment among many diaspora Jews in decline—we need to ask whether the emphasis on Holocaust education bears any responsibility. And with so much Holocaust education now focusing on treating every form of national pride or particularism as the seed of hatred—all in the name of liberal pluralism—we need to ask: Has Holocaust education been turned against the Jews?
    When Asian students sued Harvard University over an admissions policy that discriminated against them, many compared this to the anti-Jewish quotas of the 1920s and 1930s. Not quite. Whereas the earlier bigotry against Jews (and others) was driven by prejudice against certain minorities, the present bias is the result of affirmative action that tries to benefit the allegedly disadvantaged. Whatever the intentions, the result is a new form of discrimination against high-achieving sub-cultures and a corresponding devaluing of human excellence as a civilizational standard and ideal. Jews are often treated as the new emblems of “white privilege,” and successful Jews often feel guilty about the very success in America that their own liberal children now take all too easily for granted.
    The ultimate judge of Jewish exceptionalism—and of the enduring value of Jewish civilization—is the Divine Source that inspired it. But for Jewish civilization to continue—and to flourish—every generation has to reinforce Jewish ideas and Jewish values in its own language, rituals, schools, and books. The imperative for Jewish cultural self-confidence is only more powerful when the Jewish people is denigrated by its adversaries and unjustly targeted for blame. Having come to play an outsized role in the international arena, Jews should embrace their exceptional role in human history and courageously accept what this requires of them. The actions of American Jews and Jewish Israelis matter beyond their borders. The world seems to get this, for better and for worse. So should the Jews themselves.