Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish conflict over Israel
Princeton University Press (Footprint), $63 hb, 326 pp, 9780691168999
Two Jews, three opinions. Jews nod their heads in agreement when they hear those words, just as they chuckle knowingly at the story of the two Jews stranded on a desert island who build three synagogues – one for each of them and one that neither would visit on principle.
Sometimes those differences of opinion can assume an unpleasant character. Since Trouble in the Tribe was published earlier this year, Dov Waxman, a professor of Political Science, International Affairs, and Israel Studies at Northeastern University and the co-director of its Middle East Center, has been the target of abusive attacks and scathing criticism from right-wing American Jews. Ironically, the hostile reactions to Waxman's book only serve to demonstrate the escalating polarisation over Israel within the American Jewish community that he describes. Waxman was shocked, however, at the Manichaean world view of his critics for whom any perspective or analysis that conflicts with their own is denigrated and dismissed out of hand. Some detractors even resorted to ad hominem attacks, accusing him of being a self-hating Jew, a traitor, or simply an idiot.