Jewish Intellectuals – Then and Now

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6 Responses

  1. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Isn’t it interesting that even the most irreligious Jews hold Jews, at least in the aggregate, to a higher standard than everybody else? Arguably their standard is higher in a way than Halacha, since it is impossible to follow.

  2. Bob Miller says:

    I do see a modest counter-trend to the nonsense described above, in the many outstanding pro-Israel articles by writers like Melanie Phillips ( ), Caroline Glick ( ), and David Horowitz ( ), who seem to have the enemy surrounded.

  3. NLG says:

    It is characteristic of the so-called “progressive” mindset to cast all arguments in hypberbolic moralistic language, thereby enabling them to advocate for intolerance of anyone who does not adhere to their viewpoint. By empowering themselves to ascribe immorality to all divergent views, they excuse themselves from the very values of tolerance and understanding they so ardently preach. This secular, fundamentalist, binary logic divorces good and evil from any objective basis. When all is black and white, nuances may be denied, and reason may be invalidated by simple edict.

    This is, of course, the modus arguendum of the yetzer hara. First, one denies the objective basis for determining good and evil, by denying the truth of revelation and thus the validity religious tradition. Then, one simply redeploys language to suit one’s desired ends. At this point, it is no longer required to engage in any sort of mental gymnastics — good can become evil and vice versa, intolerance can be the “new tolerance.” Once the dominant paradigm has been subverted (to borrow a phrase of the progressive movement), there is no need to erect a new paradigm; standards may shift, or be rejected altogether, to suit the convenience of the progressive advocate in the moment. Thus, truth becomes but one more subjective value, and history may be rewritten on the fly.

    Sadly, there can be no rational discourse with these folks, since irrationality is the very foundation of their philosophical framework. Where the prophets of TaNaKh adhered to an understanding that human conduct can and should be measured against objective verities, the new prophets are content to declare — and undeclare — truths in accordance with no more than whims. They literally find their answers blowing in the winds of whatever moment they happen to be caught up in at any given point in time.

  4. Bob Miller says:

    Left academics, thought by themselves to be our greatest minds, often believe simultaneously that:

    1. People have no free will whatsoever.
    2. People labeled as oppressors are totally responsible for all their actions.
    3. Thoughts and actions can only be sinful if the thinkers or actors belong to the labeled oppressor class.

    (an offshoot of 3. is the idea that no member of a minority can be a racist)

    Go figure!

  5. shmuel says:

    What can we do to encourage training a cadre of committed frum intellectuals to respond today (and in the next generation) to our intellectual brethren who are so lost and mired in self-doubt and/or self-loathing? Even if many of the left academics will not listen, as seems adequately clear, others on the sidelines will.

    I have long felt this is something vital. Where is the “training school” so to speak for such an effort. Lack of a strong offensive that vigorously supports Israel and exposes the moral hypocrisy of the left with reasoned arguments and examples could come back to haunt us, r”l. Yes, there are writers such as those mentioned earlier. But few and far in between are those like Jonathan.

    We need the next generation of Jonathan Rosenblums, especially as the frum community becomes ever more conspicuous in America and the world at large; as being “Jewish” increasingly becomes identified with being “Orthodox,” as the future (as far as anyone can predict anything) seems to portend (i.e. earlier articles here about this topic).

    I recently heard a frum AIPAC activist speak about young leadership training in some MO high schools. Can we identify youngsters to be schooled and encouraged to be spokesmen on behalf of Am Yisrael, either in such a forum or otherwise more to our liking?

  6. David Farkas says:

    I always wonder, when I read an article like this – does anyone really care? I mean, anyone who reads the Forward, the Times, etc., usually has his mind made up already. In Europe they consistenly label Jews as the worst threat to peace, but just as consistently in America, the people identify with Jews. ( And really, why should anyone trust the polls to begin with? According to “the polls”, Jews are still voting 80% democrat, which hasn’t been true for two decades). So when writers like JR worry and hand-wring over anti-semitic rants from academics most people have never heard of, does it not help to create a self-fulfilling prophecy? Better to ignore it, I say. it’s much maligned these days, but sometimes ignorng someting is truly the best policy.

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