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Jews Against Prejudice American Jews and the Fight for Civil Liberties cover
  • ISBN: 9780231106382
  • ISBN10: 0231106386

Jews Against Prejudice American Jews and the Fight for Civil Liberties

by Stuart Svonkin

  • List Price: $105.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Columbia Univ Pr
  • Publish date: 10/01/1997
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Description
America's dark history of anti-Semitism, racism, and ethnic bigotry -- and many of the efforts to combat them -- have received growing attention in recent years. Yet one vital aspect of this history remains little studied: the organized struggle waged by Jews against persistent strains of prejudice and the effort to foster tolerance and diversity in the United States. Indeed, the ideas Jewish groups developed about the roots of bigotry and its antidotes are part of the lingua franca of race relations and cultural identity movements today.

Stuart Svonkin delves into long-concealed archives of America's three major Jewish defense groups -- the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, and the American Jewish Congress -- to offer the first comprehensive account of organized Jewish political activism against bigotry and for human rights since 1945.

Jews Against Prejudice traces the political evolution of these groups from their origins before World War II as organizations concerned primarily with defense against virulent anti-Semitism to a broader mission, fueled by the horrors of the war, to right all forms of prejudice by the mid-1940s. Svonkin considers the far-reaching effects of anticommunism in the 1950s, when Jewish political groups moved to support liberal anticommunism as well as to oppose the demagoguery of such figures as Senator Joseph McCarthy. He details the attempts to reconcile the tensions between American and Jewish identities and shows how the emergence of Israel and the growing awareness of the Holocaust influenced an ideological shift away from universalism and assimilation toward cultural assertion in the 1960s.

This absorbing storyof a courageous campaign for tolerance -- and the shifting conceptions of prejudice that drove it -- is a landmark addition to the literature on Jews in U.S. history. More than that, it is a vital chapter in the story of civil rights and civil liberties in modern America.

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