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Searching for Jewish Identity In A Free and Open Society

Allan C. Brownfeld
Spring 1997

In recent days there has been something of a media frenzy about the alleged "vanishing" of American Jews.  

Discussing growing rates of intermarriage, low Jewish birth rates, and increasing disaffiliation with the organized Jewish community, historian Norman Cantor declared that, "Saving an unforeseen reversal of current trends, it appears . . . that the history of the Jews as we have known it and them is probably approaching an end." Ben Wattenberg, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, states that, "There are now an estimated 5.4 million Jews in America, about 2 percent of the population. (Compared to 4 percent in 1930). There are arguments about projections. Some Jews fear that American Judaism will fade away. In any event, it is likely there will be fewer American Jews in the future than now."  

At the same time, various groups of Jews are busy declaring that others are not really Jews at all. Thus, the Union of Orthodox Rabbis in the United States recently announced that adherents of Reform or Conservative Judaism may be Jews by birth but that their "religion is not Judaism."  

In this provocative new book, Alan Dershowitz, professor at Harvard Law School and, on many levels, an increasingly controversial figure, examines the entire question of the "vanishing Jew" and sheds much light on the challenges now being confronted.  

External Threats  

In previous times, the threats to Jewish survival were external — the virulent consequences of anti-Semitism. Now, however, in late 20th century America, the problems are quite different. American Jews are secure, accepted, and more successful than ever before. They have entered the American melting pot and have achieved the American Dream. This has produced a situation in which more than 50 percent of Jews will marry non-Jews, and their children will, in most cases, be raised as non-Jews. Following this scenario, American Jews may vanish as a distinct cultural group sometime in the next century unless, Dershowitz argues, "they act now."  

Alan Dershowitz is particularly critical of those Jews, both today and in the past, who have resisted freedom and, in effect, welcomed a degree of anti-Semitism as necessary to keep the group together. He recalls that in 1812, Napoleon was battling the czar for control of the Pale of Settlement (the western part of czarist Russia), where millions of Jews were forced to live in crowded poverty and under discrimination as second-class subjects: "A victory for Napoleon held the promise of prosperity, first-class citizenship, freedom of movement, and an end to discrimination and persecution. A victory for the czar would keep the Jews impoverished and miserable. The great Hasidic rabbi Shneur Zalman — the founder of the Lubavitch dynasty — stood up in his synagogue on the first day of Rosh Hashanah to offer a prayer to God asking help for the leader whose victory would be good for the Jews. Everyone expected him to pray for Napoleon. But he prayed for the czar to defeat Napoleon. In explaining his counterintuitive choice, he said: ‘Should Bonaparte win, the wealth of the Jews will be increased and their (civic) position will be raised. At the same time their hearts will be estranged from our Heavenly Father. Should however our Czar Alexander win, the Jewish hearts will draw nearer to our Heavenly Father, though the poverty of Israel may well become greater and his position lower."  

Fear of Freedom  

The fear of freedom has been a continuing theme of Jewish history. On the eve of the Holocaust, another great Eastern European rabbi, Elchanan Wasserman, the dean of the Rabbinical College in Baranowitz, Poland, was invited to bring his entire student body and faculty to Yeshiva College in New York, or the Beis Medrish Letorah in Chicago. He declined the invitation because "they are both places of spiritual danger, for they are run in a spirit of free-thinking." The rabbi reasoned, "What would one gain to escape physical danger in order to then confront spiritual danger?" Rabbi Wasserman, his family, his students, and their teachers remained in Poland, where they were murdered by the Nazis. Under such a theory, Dershowitz notes, "the Jews need external troubles to stay Jewish."  

Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, was also an advocate of this theory. He believed that "our enemies have made us one . . . It is only pressure that forces us back to the parent stem." In a prediction that Dershowitz calls "an approach to the survival of Judaism strikingly similar to that of the founder of the Lubavitch Hasidim," Herzl warned that if "our Christian hosts were to leave us in peace . . . for two generations, the Jewish people would merge entirely into surrounding races." Jean Paul Sartre, who was not Jewish, went even further, arguing that the "sole tie that binds (the Jewish people together) is the hostility and disdain of the societies which surround them." He believed that it "is the anti-Semite who makes the Jew."  

Now, however, particularly in the U.S. and other democratic Western countries, Dershowitz points out, "after two millennia of persecution and victimization, we may well be moving into a new era of Jewish life during which we will not be persecuted or victimized . . . We will need to refocus our attention on defining the positive qualities of Jewish life that ought to make us want to remain Jews without ‘help’ from our enemies. We must become positively Jewish instead of merely reacting to our enemies."  

Indeed, he declares, "If Herzl’s and Sartre’s entirely negative view of the reason for Jewish survival were to persist even as we enter this new era of equality and acceptance, then Judaism would not deserve to endure. If Jewish life cannot thrive in an open environment of opportunity, choice, freethinking, affluence, success and first-class status — if we really do need . . . czars, pogroms, poverty, insularity, closed minds and anti-Semitism to keep us Jewish — then Jewish life as we know it will not, and should not, survive the first half of the 21st century. We have been persecuted long enough. The time has come to welcome the end of our victimization without fear that it will mean the end of our existence . . ."  

Victims No More  

Despite the fact that American Jews "are part of the American mainstream, we are truly victims no more," American Jewish organizations continue to raise funds through the specter of growing anti-Semitism, charges Dershowitz. He notes that, ". . . in November 1996 I saw a fund-raising letter from a Jewish organization which claimed that ‘anti-Semitism . . . appears to be growing more robust, more strident, more vicious — and more ‘respectable.’ Well intentioned as this organization is, it seeks support by exaggerating the threats we currently face and by comparing them to . . . the Holocaust."  

The reality, he shows, is that anti-Semitism exists only on the extremist fringes of the American society and has more negative consequences for its perpetrators than its targets. A 1988 poll of Jewish students at Dartmouth College, for example, showed that when asked whether they believed their Jewishness would in any way hamper their future success, not a single student answered in the affirmative. "This," Dershowitz writes, "is the current reality . . . The coming generation of Jewish adults will not remain Jews because of our enemies or because of our perceived status as victims. They crave a more positive, affirmative, contemporary and relevant Jewish identity. Unless we move beyond victimization and toward a new Jewish state of mind, many of them will abandon Judaism as not relevant to their concerns."  

Those who lament rising rates of intermarriage, Dershowitz argues, fail to understand the positive forces which are at work: "We must recognize that many of the factors which have fueled current assimilation and intermarriage are positive developments for individual Jews: acceptance, wealth, opportunity. Most Jews do not want to impede these developments. Indeed, they want to encourage them. For that reason, we must accept the reality that many Jews will continue to marry non-Jews, but we should not regard it as inevitable that these marriages will necessarily lead to total assimilation. We can take positive steps to stem that tide — but it will take a change in attitude toward mixed marriages, and indeed toward the tribalism that has . . . characterized Jewish attitudes toward outsiders for so much of our history."  

Survival For What?  

Many discussions of Jewish "survival" ignore the larger question of "survival for what?" Alan Dershowitz makes this point: "I do not believe in survival merely for survival’s sake. Judaism should not be seen as a patient about to die a natural death, who is kept artificially alive on a respirator for as long as possible without regard to the quality of life. Our goal should be a self-sustaining Judaism that can thrive in the kind of open society in which most Jews want to spend their lives. I strongly believe that it is essential — both for Jews and for America — that the mainstream American Jewish community flourish. It would be a tragedy if the only forms of Judaism that made it past the 21st century were insular, ultra-Orthodox Judaism and Israeli Zionism."  

For such a future, he states, "We will have to educate our children differently, allocate our charitable giving differently, select our leaders differently — even define our very Jewishness differently. Jewish life will have to become less tribal, more open, more accepting of outsiders, less defensive . . . At the end of the last century, Theodor Herzl called for a new Jewish state. As we approach the close of this cataclysmic century, I believe we need a new Jewish state of mind if we are to define and ensure the Jewish future . . ."  

There is something unseemly, Dershowitz believes, in reacting to America’s free and open society as being a "crisis" for the Jewish future. He points out, however, that predictions of the disappearance of Judaism and the Jews have a long history. In his essay titled "Israel: The Ever-Dying People," the historian Simon Rawidowicz rejects the self-imposed image of the Jewish people as "being constantly on the verge of . . . disappearing." He points out that "there was hardly a generation in the Diaspora that did not consider itself the final link in Israel’s chain." After reviewing the long history of Jewish fears of disappearing, he concludes his essay on an optimistic note: "There is no people more dying than Israel, yet none better equipped to resist disaster, to fight alone . . . Let us prepare the ground for the last Jews who will come after us, and for the last Jews who will come after them, and so on until the end of days."  

While "Judaism has proved its adaptability to external enmity, poverty and political exclusion," Dershowitz writes, "Now it must prove its adaptability to external friendship, affluence, political power and inclusion."  

Victimization Stories  

In a chapter entitled "Why So Many Jews Are Drifting Away," Dershowitz points to the constant barrage of victimization stories which are inflicted upon American Jews, but which bear no relationship to the reality of their lives. "If a Martian were to come down to Earth," he writes, "and read only the publications of the Anti-Defamation League, he might conclude that anti-Semitism over the past few years was at an all-time high and that it was unsafe for any Jews to go near a synagogue . . . The anger over anti-Semitism will simply not keep the current generation of students Jewish because they simply do not see themselves as victims of contemporary persecution, despite efforts by some Jewish organizations to persuade them that they are . . . We are no longer second-class citizens . . . and we must stop behaving as if we were . . . Young people . . . will not be frightened into remaining Jews by exaggerated accounts of our current victimization. They will doubt claims, such as those recently made by the Simon Weisenthal Center in a fund-raising letter, that anti-Semitism is growing ‘more respectable,’ more ‘mainstream,’ and more attributable to ‘haters whose positions in society lend authority to their messages of hate.’ Young Jews do not experience this kind of ‘respectable’ anti-Semitism. They will not be recruited into the Jewish army that has forever manned the barricades against our powerful enemies, because they don’t see any. The will remain Jews not to defend against persecution they have not experienced, but because and only because they choose to be part of a tradition and civilization with positive values that are meaningful to them and to their children. That is the Jewish challenge of the 21st century."  

The widespread concern expressed in organized Jewish quarters about the decision of the Southern Baptist Convention to launch a campaign of evangelization aimed at Jews is criticized by Dershowitz who notes that, "We can just say no. If a Baptist can persuade a Jew that his salvation is in Jesus, so be it. If a Jew can persuade a Baptist to convert to Judaism, so be it. That is the American way. Are we, as Jews, so insecure about the power of our ideas, our faith and our God that we are afraid of a little healthy competition?"  

To those who express the view that the way to preserve a Jewish future is to turn to religious Orthodoxy or to emigrate to Israel, Dershowitz is properly critical.  

With regard to Orthodoxy, particularly its more extreme fringe, he asks: "How many Jews are prepared to live that kind of life? Very few indeed — and not only because it is too difficult, but also because, for many of us, it is wrong. Perhaps, in a sense, it is even un-Jewish to remove oneself from the outside world in which we are obliged to have a positive impact. One cannot repair the world by living outside it. Jews are not supposed to be monks, we are supposed to be messengers. We are supposed to be a light unto the world. It is no challenge to remain Jewish when there are no other options. The real challenge, and one from which we must not shrink, is to perpetuate a kind of Jewish life that will be chosen by our children and grandchildren from among the wide array of options they will be offered in the rich and diverse American lives they deserve to enjoy."  

Who Is A Jew?  

All of the discussion of "who is a Jew" and the debate over "matrilineal" or "patrilineal" descent and the religious objections to intermarriage are, Dershowitz shows, increasingly narrow, not really based on Jewish tradition at all, and off-putting to young American Jews.  

Matrilineal descent, for example, is shown to be "not a biblical principle of Judaism. In fact, the Torah dictates patrilineal descent in all instances, and it was the practice during biblical times for the children’s status to be determined by the father." One reason was that intermarriage, so opposed today by many Jewish religious thinkers, was so widespread. Professor Shaye Cohen, an historian at the Jewish Theological Seminary and now at Brown University, summarized the situation: "Numerous Israelite heroes and kings married a Canaanite, Joseph an Egyptian, Moses a Midianite and an Ethiopian, David a Philistine, and Solomon women of every description. By her marriage with an Israelite man a foreign woman joined the clan, people and religion of her husband. It never occurred to anyone in pre-exilic times to argue that such marriages were null and void, that the foreign women must ‘convert’ to Judaism or that the offspring of the marriage were not Israelite if the women did not convert."  

Indeed, both Professor Cohen and other historians have difficulty explaining or even dating, the adoption of matrilineal descent as a principle of Judaism. "We are now saddled," Dershowitz declares, "with a rule that is neither based on the Torah nor supported by persuasive Talmudic reasoning."  

With regard to intermarriage, he writes: "The dictates of the Torah were expressly changed in numerous ways by the rabbis . . . First, the Torah does not prohibit all intermarriage. It is very specific in prohibiting only intermarriage with the seven nations of Canaan. As if to prove that this was not meant metaphorically, the Torah specifically set a time limit on the prohibition against intermarriage with the Egyptians and Edomites: three generations. But as Rabbi Philip Sigal puts it, ‘Ezra acted contrary to the Torah’ when in the 5th century B.C. he prohibited marriage with all non-Jews, even after the specific three-generation prohibition had long expired."  

Change Is Dominant  

Jewish "law," Dershowitz shows, has been an ever-changing phenomenon and hardly written in stone: "The point is that change has been a dominant theme running through the history of Judaism. Ultra-Orthodox Jews, like common-law judges of the old school have created a myth for themselves that change never happens, that all the current rules were given by God to Moses at Sinai, and that only certain rabbis (the ones who wrote the rule!) are able to decode Halakah by employing certain traditionally acceptable tools of interpretation. The ultra-Orthodox may well be right — for them. But their way is not the only authentically Jewish way, as evidenced by the many changes they have made from biblical Judaism, and by the flourishing of so many new flowers on the various branches of the tree called Judaism."  

The idea that either emigration to Israel or identification with Israel as "central" to Judaism is an answer to maintaining Jewish identity in the future is sharply criticized by Dershowitz, who describes himself as "a committed Zionist" but declares that, "I am an American and I love America and believe in its future."  

He is increasingly troubled by the kind of Judaism which is emerging in Israel, particularly the refusal to provide legitimacy to non-Orthodox religious bodies and the rise of extremist Orthodoxy. If separation of church and state is a legitimate standard for the U.S., as Jewish groups insist it is, then, Dershowitz believes, it is equally legitimate as a goal for Israel.  

Concerning the growth of religious extremism, he notes that, "The murder of a Jewish prime minister by an Israeli zealot has become an awful symbol of the change that is occurring in Jewish life, not only in Israel but in America and in many parts of the world today. The greatest dangers to Jewish survival come today from Jews themselves. We have become our own worst enemies, certainly our own most dangerous friends. With Jewish friends like Yigal Amir, and those who encouraged and supported his murderous act, who needs anti-Semitic enemies?"  

Death Threats  

One of Dershowitz’s Israeli friends is Aharon Barak, the president of the Israeli Supreme Court. Not long ago, Dershowitz, Barak and their wives met for dinner at an Arab restaurant in Jerusalem. "But this time," he writes, "there was a fifth person: his bodyguard. I asked Aharon whether he had received death threats from Arab extremists, many of whom he had put in prison both as attorney general and as a justice. ‘No,’ he replied, ‘My life has been threatened by ultra-Orthodox Jewish extremists ever since I made a ruling in favor of Reform Jews.’ The threat was serious and the security services insisted that he be guarded wherever he went. I was shocked that my friend — one of the most scholarly and proud Jewish people I know — felt entirely comfortable in an Arab restaurant but needed to be protected from extremist and violent Jews . . . The great irony is that our worst internal enemies have so much in common with our remaining external enemies: Islamic fundamentalists. The both claim to hear God’s voice, which always — quite conveniently — tells them that their politics are divinely correct. They both eschew compromise and are suspicious of peace."  

Some Jewish extremists in Israel, Dershowitz reports, go so far as to call for the extermination of Arabs living in the occupied West Bank territories. This view found expression in an essay by Rabbi Israel Hess published in the official magazine of Bar-Ilan University students under the title "Genocide: A Commandment of Torah." Hess likened the Arabs to the biblical Amalekites, who were annihilated. The Amalekites, according to Hess, were both socially and militarily treacherous and cruel. Their relation to the Jews was like the relation of darkness to light — one of total contradiction. The Arabs, who live today in the land of Israel, are said to be direct descendants of the Amalekites, and "the correct solution to the problem is extermination."  

Theodor Herzl was, Dershowitz shows, not much of a prophet: "What Herzl believed could never happen — namely, the acquisition by Jews of sufficient economic power ‘to overcome the old social prejudices against them’ — has . . . come to pass in many parts of the world. Contemporary American Jews have the full range of choices open to them . . . The Jews of the 21st century, except for those insular Hasidim who deliberately deny themselves and their children the opportunity to interact with others, will be Jews by choice. They may be the first generation of Jews entirely free to accept or reject their Jewishness, without stigma, without sanction, and even without guilt. Twenty first century American Jews will truly be a ‘chosen people.’ They will have chosen to remain Jewish."  

Denigration of American Jews  

Israel’s leaders are sharply criticized for their denigration of Jewish life in America and other Western societies and for their implicit hope that it will fail. One hundred years after Herzl published his reactive theory of Zionism — that endemic anti-Semitism is "the propelling force for the creation of the Jewish state" — Dershowitz charges that "some of Israel’s leaders persist in the use of negative scare tactics to try to attract American Jews and the Jews of other nations to Zion. This may be understandable in light of the reality of Israel’s demography. The fact is that the vast majority of Israel’s Jewish population, and their forbears, emigrated to Israel for largely negative reasons . . . Only a small percentage of Jews who have made aliyah to Israel have ‘chosen’ the Jewish state for entirely positive or ideological reasons . . . Moreover, the number of Israelis who have . . . left Israel far exceeds those who have made aliyah."  

In June 1994 a conference was held in Jerusalem in which several dozen Jewish leaders were invited by the president of Israel, Ezer Weizman. At this conference, which Dershowitz attended, President Weizman "proceeded to berate the Jewish leaders from around the world for their naive belief that Jewish communities outside of Israel have any real future . . . Virtually any time a Jewish leader from outside Israel talked optimistically during the conference about the continuing success of his or her . . . community, Weizman interjected his negative vision of the inevitability of Jewish failure outside of Israel . . . Simply put, Israel wants us to fail so that we will have no choice but to make aliyah, whereas we want to succeed . . ."  

In the future, Dershowitz declares, "Israel’s leaders can no longer frighten the Jews of the modern-day Diaspora into abandoning large and successful Jewish communities by predicting pogroms and Holocausts. Indeed, there is a danger to Israel in attracting only those Jews who are frightened to live in contemporary America, Canada, Australia, England, France and other hospitable countries. Those olim — Jews who make aliyah - - often display a paranoid streak that makes them among the most radical and sometimes violent opponents of any compromise in the admittedly difficult search for peace."  

Conflict of Interest  

There is, in reality, a "conflict of interest" between Israeli leaders who "are committed to the failure of world Jewry outside Israel — and Jews in Western countries who seek to perpetuate their religion as full members of their own societies," writes Dershowitz. Therefore, identification with Israel is hardly the way to ensure Jewish survival and continuity in America.  

To succeed in the future, Dershowitz believes, American Jewish education must be revolutionized. Judaism must stress its humane ethical tradition and become "less tribal" and exclusive and more open to others. It must welcome non-Jewish spouses in intermarriages and recognize the validity of all forms of Judaism including the secular. He states that, "Judaism must become less ethnocentric, less exclusive, less closed off, less defensive, less xenophobic, less clannish . . . Tribalism may be easy to justify when others treat us as a tribe . . . But it becomes anachronistic — and antagonistic — to behave like a tribe when others treat us like part of the mainstream."  

In Dershowitz’s view, there are "several essences" to Judaism which are worthy of transmission and which would have widespread appeal to young Americans. One of these is the search for justice: "Historically, Jews have been on the forefront of the struggle to achieve justice. They have agreed on the goal of a just world, but they have never agreed on the means toward reaching that goal. Indeed, the Jewish dialogue — between man and God and among men (and women) — has been largely about how to pursue justice in an inherently unjust world . . . Neither God nor man speaks with one voice about the content of justice, though they do speak consistently about the quest for this elusive quality. Job is treated unjustly, as are his children. Ecclesiastes sees injustice as part of the natural order. David, on the other hand, sees justice as essential to God’s order . . . ‘The fundamental principle of the Hebraic Commonwealth was that there are great moral laws,’ observed Lyman Abbott in 1901. And Lord Acton credited the Hebrew nation with having laid down the basis for ‘all freedom’ through its doctrine of ‘higher law.’"  

Quaker Example  

Dershowitz cites the example of the Quakers as one which Jews might do well to emulate: "We have two basic options for the future. If we keep to ourselves, the way the ultra-Orthodox do, we will become like the Amish of Pennsylvania — a quaint sect whom tourists come to gape at and who have no influence on the outside world. If we open our minds and our schools, we will become more like the Quakers, whose schools are among the best in the world and whose message has enormous influence beyond their small numbers. We will never be exactly like any other group, but I would prefer to see the future of mainstream American Jews modeled more closely after the Quakers than the Amish. The Quakers are less tribal than the Jews, less concerned with mixed marriages, more willing to share their message without conditions or conversions, more confident that they have something positive to offer in the marketplace of ideas. Though their community is small in number, and rife with intermarriage, their influence is pervasive and generally positive . . ."  

Opposition to intermarriage, Dershowitz points out, "has failed as a deterrent mechanism. We must try another way. If a non-Jew wants to marry a Jew and is prepared to have a rabbi participate in the ceremony, a rabbi should be willing to lend his or her Jewish participation to so important an event . . . The unwillingness of most rabbis to sanctify a mixed marriage simply drives both parties further away from Jewish life. In every way, Jews must become more welcoming of anyone who wants to be part of our heritage."  

The "all or nothing" approach to Judaism, "under which a person is either all Jewish, in which case we accept him or her, or not Jewish at all, in which case we reject that person as an outsider," should, Dershowitz argues, come to an end: "In America, and other nations that separate church and state, one’s Jewishness is a matter of self-definition, and anyone who wants to be considered a Jew or a half-Jew or a partial Jew, or a person of Jewish heritage has a right to be so considered . . . Such an open-ended approach to Judaism will not create conflict; it will recognize — in a positive, constructive, and inclusive way — our current reality and our future situation."  

Belief in God  

Exactly what Alan Dershowitz means by "Judaism," however, is open to some question. He admits that he does not believe in God in any traditional way. When Rabbi Alexander Schindler, the Reform Jewish leader, declared that "the concept of God" is essential to Reform Judaism, he was, in Dershowitz’s view, incorrect. "He is wrong," Dershowitz writes, "when he claims that the concept of God is the very foundation of all Judaism. Judaism encompasses more than God, as evidenced by the centrality of political Zionism to Jewish life over the past century, the importance of the secular Yiddish culture to Judaism for a century and a half, and the continuing contribution to Jewish life of many Jews for whom God is not central to Judaism . . . If God is important to Judaism, so is skepticism, argumentation, disagreement, dissent and diversity. The Jewish tent must be open to all who wish to participate in the Jewish dialogue without litmus tests about belief in the supernatural."  

What Dershowitz overlooks is the fact that the corruption of Judaism, as a religion of universal values, through its politicization by Zionism and by the replacement of dedication to Israel for dedication to God and the moral law, is what has alienated so many young Americans who, searching for spiritual meaning in life, have found little in the organized Jewish community. It is because there has been a spiritual vacuum in American Jewish life that so many young people have sought spiritual sustenance elsewhere.  

If one is not attempting to perpetuate a Jewish religious worldview as revealed particularly through the Prophets, it is not clear what "essence" of Judaism Alan Dershowitz seeks to prevent from "vanishing." Still, his rejection of Jewish victimization, fear or freedom, tribalism and xenophobia represents a much needed critique of the negative directions taken in recent years by the organized Jewish community. His critique of Israel’s desire for Judaism in the U.S. and other Western countries to fail is an important contribution, as is his examination of the dangerous trends toward fundamentalism among certain Jewish groups both in the U.S. and Israel. A shortcoming of this book remains in the fact that we know very well what Alan Dershowitz is against, and in most cases his opposition is well founded. What, however, is he for? One need not be Jewish, after all, to support "diversity," "argumentation" or "justice."  

Judaism’s Real Problems  

Yet, if there are shortcomings in Dershowitz’s program for the future and in his vision of what Judaism involves, he does an excellent job of setting forth the real problems which the American Jewish community now confronts and in highlighting the narrowness and irrelevance of much of the organized Jewish community which insists on presenting itself as a victimized community and on pointing to Israel as an answer to uniquely American problems.  

"Judaism is embarking on a new phase in its history as an evolving civilization," Dershowitz concludes. "It is no longer a civilization characterized by persecution, ghettoization, and anti-Semitism. It must now define itself anew, develop a new state of mind more adaptive to its contemporary condition, and move beyond its long history of victimization and into its post- persecution era of Jewish life. It must recognize its newfound acceptance, power and success . . . It must write new literature, create new philosophies, sing new songs, and paint new pictures reflective of its changing outlook . . . It must prove to itself and to the world that it can survive, indeed thrive, without external enemies; that it can compete in the open market of ideas and ideologies; that it is as adaptive to acceptance as it was to rejection . . . Like enslaved Jews of ancient Egypt, we must make an exodus — from the Judaism of victimization to a new Judaism of freedom, of success, and of acceptance."  

For the first time, Dershowitz tells us, Jewish survival is in Jewish hands: "We owe it to our children, our grandchildren, our parents, our grandparents, ourselves, and the world at large, to do everything in our power to prove once and for all that Jews can thrive without persecution in an open, welcoming, pluralistic society."

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