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Rewriting Israeli, and American Jewish, History to Suit New Prejudices

Published in November of 2022, the message of We Are Not One:A History of America’s Fight Over Israel is that American Jews no longer share much in common with their brethren in the Jewish state and shouldn’t want to. Its author, Eric Alterman, a leading leftwing journalist who in the past has defended Israel against some of its fiercest detractors, seems to argue in this book that Jews in the U.S. have never had good reason to sympathize with the country. Allan Arkush writes in his review:

The brief historical account of Zionism with which We Are Not One begins is almost too perfunctory and disorganized to deserve attention, but it is nevertheless revealing. Alterman explains Theodor Herzl’s transformation into a Zionist as a response to the demoralizing “anti-Semitic fury” directed in Paris against the alleged spy Alfred Dreyfus. This is a well-known biographical myth; . . . Herzl was not particularly moved by the anti-Dreyfus outbursts at the beginning of 1895. He was, however, profoundly affected by the pervasive anti-Semitism he witnessed throughout Europe—the racism, the implacable prejudice, the discrimination—especially in Vienna, where he lived. Alterman, for his part, gives his readers very little sense of the true magnitude of “the Jewish problem” in Herzl’s day.


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