The Palestinian people should have been federated with Jordan in 1948. Arabs need to maintain the Jews as their enemy. The intersectionality movement has consolidated around the Palestinian cause and that’s just preposterous.
These are just some of the notions shared by Harvard Professor Ruth Wisse, who will speak at the Tikvah Fund’s upcoming Jewish Leadership Conference. REGISTER NOW >> (Use code JPOST for a $50 discount)“The life of women in the 20th century has been miraculously transformed,” Wisse said, noting that women have been granted the freedom to choose in all aspects of their lives, from family planning to career.She said that in the United States there are “movements of grievance and blame,” such as the feminist, African American and LGBTQ movements.Ruth Wisse is one of an expert lineup of speakers at this year's Tikvah Fund Jewish Leadership Conference. Other speakers include Ambassadors David Friedman and Ron Dermer, Senator Tom Cotton and Rabbi Meir Soloveichik.
“Women should create a new prayer book of gratitude to thank those who invented all of these things,” she said. Instead, they blame the “patriarchy” for keeping them down.
She admitted that African Americans have more cause to be aggrieved, but “there is no formal ideology of racism in the US anymore.” And as for LGBTQ people: “There is no stigma anymore, they can marry each other - look how far they have come.”
Yet, “instead of all these groups blessing the freedoms they have gained, they have formed through intersectionality a movement of grievance and blame that has consolidated around the Palestinian cause,” Wisse stressed. “It is so preposterous. But it is our daily reality.”
The Jewish Leadership Conference is an elite event. Buy a ticket and hear from the greatest names in modern Jewish and Israeli life. $50 discount with code JPOST.She said that the intersectionality has no reason to be against Israel or to fight for the Israeli-Palestinian cause and that the focus is unfounded.
However, the focus on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the views of Israel as the aggressor, is rooted in antisemitism that has been festering in the United States since the 1970s through the media and the universities.
“The idea was pumped into the US the same way fascism pumped into the US in the 1920s and 1930s,” she said.
Wisse said that she defines antisemitism as “the organization of politics against the Jews.”
“One has to think about [antisemitism] in terms of its function for those who are organizing the politics against the Jews,” she said. “What purpose does it serve for the antisemites?”
In the case of the Arabs, she said that it started back in 1945 when the Arab League formed around the same time that the Second World War ended.
"The League originated around opposition to the emergence of Israel, which was the glue that united its otherwise warring elements,” Wisse explained. ”Though some of this has changed, and one is thankful when Arab and Muslim leaders accept the principle of peaceful coexistence, common enmity to Israel remains far too important in Arab and Muslim politics."
“The Palestinians should have federated with Jordan from the beginning and ended the story,” Wisse added. “But no. Why? They needed to organize against the Jews and that war will continue as long as they need it.”
Now, as antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment is on the rise, American Jews have to avoid the same mistakes she said they made in the 1930s, when “they saw increasing danger to the Jews and the leadership was very lackadaisical in its response. They did not apply much pressure as it could on the administration, and did not seek to mobilize public opinion in the US.
“The record of American Jewry in the 1930s, especially among the intellectuals, is very sad,” she said.
“American Jews simply don’t want to live with that reality, don’t want to say that Israel has to stay on a war footing, be powerful enough so no one dares to go to war against it, and to the same degree, they have to fight the war of ideas with the same degree of commitment and dedication,” Wisse said.
She added that American Jews cannot pretend this assault against them and Israel does not exist. Rather, they have to go out and fight these ideas.
Wisse is being honored with the 2021 Herzl Prize by the Tikvah Fund. The elite online conference at which she will be honored is also named “the inaugural 2021 online conference on Jewishness and Conservatism.”
“Democracy is not biologically transmitted,” Wisse said. “The US is forgetting that. The schools are not teaching basic text anymore, not thinking you have to conserve the best in order to ward off the worst.
“Conservatism is conserving liberal democracy - this great and complicated civilization” she concluded. Ruth Wisse will be honored with the Herzl Prize on March 14, which was previously awarded to Natan Sharansky and Norman Podhoretz. Please join her in celebrating >> ($50 discount with code JPOST)This article was written in cooperation with Tikvah Fund.