Friday, January 09, 2009

Annus horribilis: I can get it for you wholesale

David Seaton's News Links
Here are the two leading stories in today's "Jewish Daily Forward", which is probably America's oldest and certainly its most prestigious Jewish community newspaper.
Peace Groups Lose First Major Gaza Challenge On Capitol Hill
As Israel’s military campaign in Gaza entered its second week, Capitol Hill became the latest battleground where Jewish hawks and doves are trying to shape the American response to the ongoing violence. Dovish groups bombarded lawmakers with calls and e-mails in an attempt to influence the wording of pro-Israel resolutions being shaped in the House and Senate. The groups’ line in the sand on those resolutions was straightforward: Unless the House and Senate included a call for an immediate cease-fire, the dovish groups would call on their supporters to actively oppose them. For the Jewish peace camp, the first Middle East crisis of the new Congress and administration was an opportunity to flex its muscles and show presence on the national scene. But in the end, they lost.

AJCongress Crippled by Madoff Scandal
One of the Jewish community’s most storied national organizations revealed that it has been gutted by the financial collapse of investor Bernard Madoff, losing the vast majority of its endowment. Officials at the 90-year-old American Jewish Congress disclosed that apparent fraud at Madoff’s investment firm had cost the organization roughly $21 million of the $24 million in endowments that supported the AJCongress and its programs.(...) It’s ironic that the Madoff scandal, with its tales of exclusive country club life and high-priced international hedge funds, has been so destructive to an organization that was founded to be the voice of the Jewish masses. The AJCongress was founded in 1918 and became a populist counterbalance to the American Jewish Committee, which was dominated by the wealthy and conservative German-Jewish establishment. Under the leadership of its legendary founder, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, the AJCongress was one of the first national organizations to support Zionism and to protest the Nazi regime, and it established a reputation for being politically liberal. After World War II, it made its mark as an active litigant on church-state issues and civil rights.
When these two stories are juxtaposed in The Forward, it seems to me that a certain American-Jewish "golden age" is coming to an end, one whose beginning we might put arbitrarily in World War One, when financier Bernard Baruch became an adviser to president Wilson and the chairman of the War Industries Board, or perhaps in 1932 when Herbert Hoover named Benjamin Cardozo to the US Supreme Court... or maybe even a bit earlier in 1924 when composer George Gershwin premiered his "Rhapsody in Blue".

We are talking about a golden age of the Jewish diaspora that compares favorably with those of Babylon, Al-Andalus or Wilhelmine Germany.

More than a golden age, a love affair.

It is impossible to exaggerate the significance and harmful consequences of this disenchantment and the effects it will have on the fabric of American life, cultural, social and political in years to come. DS

1 comment:

bailey alexander said...

Fin de si├Ęcle, possibilay.

The Jews created Hollywood, a lovely little notion; all could be summed up in a romantic way, white picket fences et al.

I love the old flics as much as anyone, possibly more, but must admit, in my daily life I tend more toward the school of Joseph Campbell; relationships are not a love affair, they are an ordeal. Here, here. And Michael Powell and his international flavor reigns supreme, even under propagandists investments, for me, at least.

It was nice for a while, until the veneer wore off...until we realized that being in thrall with psychoanalysis would eventually become a disease, along with litigiousness, evangelicalism, fanatical, martyr like behavior, etc, would and could spoil the dream, which it has.