Modernity and Negations
Book Review

Finkel, David

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/05/2018
Year Published:  2018  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX23314

Finkel reviews The End of Jewish Modernity and What is Modern Israel? He says they offer complementary perspectives on some of the tragedies confronting today’s world, and their historical backgrounds.




Where Traverso views the Jewish experience as a window, Yakov Rabkin, professor of history at the University of Montreal, writes within a dual framework as both an analyst of geopolitics and a critic of Israel steeped in Jewish history. Rabkin's perspective combines modernist liberal critique with sympathy toward a tradition, rooted in pre-modern conditions, of Jewish religious anti-Zionism.

Jewish modernity arose in what Traverso calls the "long" nineteenth century (1750-1950, from the beginning of European Jewish emancipation to the aftermath of the Nazi holocaust). He believes "has reached the end of its road" in the stunning sequence of upheavals, from the Nazi genocide to post-holocaust events, in which "the striking features of the Jewish diaspora -mobility, urbanity, textuality, extraterritoriality -have extended to the globalized world."

While this development has undercut the traditional social basis for antisemitism, ironically the Israeli state "has reinvented the 'Jewish question' against the grain of Jewish history itself, in a statist and national form." Furthermore, antisemitism itself has been supplanted by Islamophobia as "the dominant form of racism in the early twenty-first century," while "Jews today find themselves, by a kind of paradoxical reversal, at the heart of the mechanisms of domination."
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