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The State of the Jews: A Critical Appraisal Hardcover – June 14, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1412846141 ISBN-10: 1412846145
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Editorial Reviews


"Alexander's book, in each exquisitely polished entry, identifies what Rabelais used to call 'the essential marrow' of the issue....[He] is a powerful polemicist who possesses a biting sense of humor...In this collection of essays, all of which display Alexander's matchless English prose style, it is difficult to single out favorites."

—Arnold Ages, Chicago Jewish Star

“Edward Alexander is… one of the better informed writers on matters Jewish… Alexander’s decades in front of his classes come through not as direct statements of the one true fact but rather as discussions of the varying experiences and writings of philo- and anti-semites, and as a good professor leaves his students wanting to learn more. Especially in an age in which the study of classics of Western thought is ignored, or chastised as irrelevant or oppressive to current ideological fervors, Alexander’s précis and discussion of many famous authors’ works does a service in awakening the reader’s interest in delving further… [I]n 238-pages the reader can delve into the past few hundred years of culture that shaped today’s anti-semitism.”

—Bruce Kesler, San Diego Jewish World

“In his latest magisterial collection of essays devoted to the Jewish struggle for survival. . . [Edward Alexander] has many lessons to teach us. . . . [An] eloquent and courageous volume. Anyone who believes that anti-Semitism should be exposed and not denied or explained away, that the Holocaust was first and foremost a crime against the Jewish people and not an offense against liberalism, and that Jews are entitled to defend themselves and to preserve their own state in their own homeland, will find in Edward Alexander’s writings a goldmine.”

—Paul Bogdanor, Society

“Alexander’s most scathing analysis focuses on academic anti-Semitism and the collaboration of Jewish liberals in the demotion of Israel to the fetid sewer of illegitimacy until recently reserved for Nazi Germany and South Africa… Edward Alexander’s critical appraisal of “the state of the Jews” reinforces his place of primacy in the continuing war, waged by far too few of our academic or intellectual colleagues, against Israel.”

—Jerold S. Auerbach, Algemeiner

“To open the lid of this much-traveled steamer trunk is to experience Alexander’s perceptive mind, dry humor, and exquisite sense of irony. Alexander is an entertaining dinner guest at your mental dining room table.”

—Robert Wilkes,

"[A] besieged people shows signs of cracking under the pressure as many of its most talented sons and daughters join the attackers, flaunting their cowardice and betrayal in hues of moral grandeur. However appalling much of the subject matter, Edward Alexander’s wit, erudition, and insight make this a desirable and important book to read."

—P. David Hornik, Front Page

“Alexander, a professor emeritus of English at the University of Washington, brings his command of language and broad appreciation of literature to bear on the liberal-left attacks on Israel while celebrating other literati for their laudatory writings on Israel’s founding. Playing on the title of Herzl’s famous Der Judenstaat, the central focus is on the antisemitic and philosemitic ideologies of the Victorian liberals, Dr. Thomas Arnold, his scion Matthew, and John Stuart Mill. The material presented is divided into three parts, history, politics, and literature, with a clear conservative approach, of the sort found in Commentary. Hence, a discussion follows on some of the more well-known English writers who depict Jews in a less than favorable light, Palestinian Arab authors who defame Jews and Judaism, and Holocaust deniers. The section on politics looks at anti-Israeli activities on American campuses, an anti-Obama critique and, probably most importantly, an examination of the concept of criticism. The final grouping on literature finds an evaluation of Lionel Trilling, Cynthia Ozick, and Saul Bellow, among others. This is a marvelous read, informative, and well-written, suitable for a wide range of audiences.”

—Sanford R. Silverburg, Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews

"The reviews and essays in State of the Jews are both controversial and provocative. They are also often insightful, if one takes into account the fact that Alexander is writing as one of America’s leading conservative intellectuals. Not everyone will agree with everything he writes—but almost everyone will enjoy the read.”

—Sarah Schmidt, Jewish Political Studies Review

“Edward Alexander, professor emeritus at the University of Washington, Seattle, is oldfangled enough to write with wit, grace and uncommon vigor. Disdaining the theory-ridden jargon that litters so much literacy criticism, he has authored many articles and books dealing with Jewish literary themes and intracommunal dialects. . . . The motivating force [for this book] is Alexander’s fierce, passionate love for the embattled, increasingly isolated Jewish state. . . . I admire Alexander’s trenchant commitment, his elegant synthesis of literature and politics and his rhetorical skill.”

—Haim Chertok, Hadassah Magazine

“By turns tough-minded and elegant, witty and contentious, Edward Alexander’s essays and reviews engage their subjects in bracing and always illuminating ways. Anyone who wants to learn about ‘the state of the Jews’ will find Alexander a perceptive and provocative guide. A brilliant polemicist, he has few rivals among commentators on contemporary Jewish themes.”

—Alvin H. Rosenfeld, professor of English and Jewish studies, Irving M. Glazer Chair in Jewish Studies, director, Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, Indiana University

“To anyone conscious of the extent to which the higher journalism today, both in America and Europe, trades in willed self-delusion, these essays will come as a decided relief. Witty, pungent, brutally intelligent and wickedly well informed, they demonstrate that the American mind, in spite of everything, is alive and kicking. Alexander’s range is enviably wide. . . . Inevitably, many of these essays touch on the antisemitism once again haunting intellectual discourse. Because antisemitism has killed so many people, we tend to treat it, sometimes grudgingly, with respect. These essays reveal it squarely for what it is: a delusion of the very stupid; a standing offence against the wit, humanity, intelligence, and decency that Alexander’s work so abundantly embodies.”

—Bernard Harrison, Emeritus E. E. Ericksen Professor of Philosophy, University of Utah, emeritus professor in the Faculty of Humanities, University of Sussex, UK

“One reads this book with moral and aesthetic admiration.  Its frightening message is that the so-called ‘new antisemitism’ is really the old antisemitism in a new disguise.  It is a page-turner.  Edward Alexander is battle-toughened in the trenches of intellectual combat.  He knows his Jews, his Judaism, his history, and he sees through the disguises of their enemies with the accuracy of a veteran marksman.  You could not find a better guide through the underworld of latter-day Jew-hatred.  On top of this, Edward Alexander never wrote a dead sentence in his life.  Here is an object lesson in the congruence of character and style, moral courage, and intellectual clarity.”

—Abigail L. Rosenthal, professor of philosophy emerita, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, author of A Good Look at Evil and Conversions: A Philosophic Memoir

About the Author

Edward Alexander is professor emeritus of English at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is the author of The Jewish Idea and Its Enemies, The Holocaust and the War of Ideas, Irving Howe: Socialist, Critic, Jew, and Lionel Trilling and Irving Howe.



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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers (June 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1412846145
  • ISBN-13: 978-1412846141
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,965,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAME on June 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Edward Alexander has long been one of the most insightful voices on Jewish matters. He has written for 'Commentary Magazine' for many years. As Irving Howe once did he writes intelligently and elegantly on on political, literary and cultural matters.He does so from the point- of- view of a strong supporter Israel who has not been misled by the propaganda war waged in the university world against the Jewish state for the past four decades. Alexander cares about Literature deeply and so has written insightfuly here about Cynthia Ozick,Abba Kovner, Hillel Halkin, Ruth Wisse all of whom are strong supporters of the Jewish state. Alexander is especially good at confronting Israel's intellectual enemies.
Anyone who cares about the Jewish people and the Jewish state will not only enjoy this book, but as importantly learn much from it about the situation of the Jewish people and Israel, today.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Philip Collier on September 16, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This author apparently believes that Israel is a perfect state and that Jews or Israelis who disagree are self--hating or deranged. Mr Alexander also assumes that the United States a country on the the other side of the world which is 98 percent non--Jewish should send billions of dollar to Israel
and give diplomatic support for all Israeli policies.
In the beginning of his book Alexander includes a quote from the great German Jewish scholar Hanah Arendt. Others
can quote Arendt. For example in her thought provoking book
" Israel's Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood " (Cambridge University Press 2005 ) Idith Zertal quotes Hannah
Arendt from an essay published in 1944. (page 160) :

" Nationalism is bad enough when it trusts in
nothing but the rude force of the nation. A nationalism
that necessarily and admittedly depends upon the force
of a foreign nation is certainly worse. This is the
threatened fate of Jewish nationalism and the proposed
Jewish State, surrounded inevitably by Arab peoples.
Even a Jewish majority in Palestine--nay, even a transfer
of all Palestine Arabs, which is openly demanded by
( Zionist ) Revisionists--would not substantially change a
situation change in which Jews must either ask protection
from an ouside power against their neighbors or effect a
working agreement with their neighbors… The Zionists, if
they continue to ignore the Mediterranean people and
watch out only for the big faraway powers, will appear
only as their tools, the agents of foreign and hostile
Read more ›
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