cover image To Heal the World? How the Jewish Left Corrupts Judaism and Endangers Israel

To Heal the World? How the Jewish Left Corrupts Judaism and Endangers Israel

Jonathan Neumann. All Points, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1250-16087-4

Neumann, a former fellow at Commentary magazine, questions whether the Hebrew Bible supports the political agenda of liberal American Jews in this provocative but flawed assessment of the basis of Jewish social justice movements. Neumann is at his best as he grounds his arguments with close readings of texts. His analysis of Abraham’s argument with God about the fate of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah is particularly well done. Instead of seeing Abraham as an exemplar of the human insistence on justice (even in the face of divine opposition), Neumann persuasively argues that Abraham’s capitulation to God’s decree was an acknowledgment that God was acting justly. But while Neumann offers logical arguments on how the Hebrew Bible has been selectively used by the left, he resorts to ad hominem attacks to make his points—spending, for example, a disproportionate amount of time on Tikkun magazine founder Michael Lerner. Even open-minded readers are likely to find Neumann undermines his case with offensive statements such as his contention that Jews pursuing social justice are looking to rebrand “Marxism as Judaism.” Though the author’s tendency toward inflammatory language and generalizations will turn some readers off, the work nonetheless will spark useful discussions about the intersections of Judaism and politics. (June)