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Ruth R. Wisse

The Cost of Kindness to the Cruel in Gaza

The most important of my mother’s Yiddish sayings was: “A rakhman oyf gazlonim iz a gazlen oyf rakhmonim.” It roughly translates to “kindness to the cruel is cruelty to the kind.” Gazlen ranges from an armed robber to a murderer, while rakhman is…

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The Many Faces of Jew-Hatred

In the wake of the shooting in Pittsburgh, a volley of voices called for more of this or that—armed guards or gun control, barring the doors of synagogues, policing of fringe web platforms or resources for mental health. While President…

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The Functions of Anti-Semitism

This summer, Nazi symbols and the slogan “Jews will not replace us” at a rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, generated a rare clarifying moment in an otherwise politically scrambled time. Since the United States led the Allies to…

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Free Speech and Anti-Semitism

December began with the passage by the Senate of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act and ended with President Obama’s betrayal of the Jewish state. In a reversal of policy, the U.S. failed to block a United Nations Security Council measure that…

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March Madness, the Anti-Semite Bracket

March madness is no longer limited to the basketball court. This month, American campuses are being invaded by the latest form of college hazing: Israeli Apartheid Week. Jewish students are made to walk past displays that distort their history, defame…

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The Problem Starts at the Top

As an image for countering anti-Semitism, I once used to keep tacked over my desk the Polish proverb, “It’s lousy to swim upstream in a filthy river.” Happily, upstream swimmers who now overtake me seem better shielded from the pollution.…

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The Herd of Independent Minds

At a Jewish literary retreat I attended this past summer, at the height of the Gaza war, fault lines opened between those anxiously following news from Israel and others apparently indifferent or professing concern for the “suffering on both sides.”…

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The Closing of the Collegiate Mind

There was a time when people looking for intellectual debate turned away from politics to the university. Political backrooms bred slogans and bagmen; universities fostered educated discussion. But when students in the 1960s began occupying university property like the thugs…

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The Dark Side of the War on ‘the One Percent’

Two phenomena: anti-Semitism and American class conflict. Is there any connection between them? In a letter to this newspaper, the noted venture capitalist Tom Perkins called attention to certain parallels, as he saw them, between Nazi Germany’s war against the Jews…

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