Tough Jews: Political Fantasies and the Moral Dilemma of American Jewry

By Paul Breines | Go to book overview

PREFACE

THE TITLE Tough Jews is the accidental invention of my friend Paul Piccone, to whom I am deeply grateful. Being a wordy person, I am especially pleased to have been given a title that is at once compact and suggestive. At the same time, tough Jews is also a fuzzy and ambiguous couplet, raising as many questions as answers, as many problems as solutions. It appeals to me for that reason, too. Tough Jews, but tough in what sense? Are they good or bad? And why is one discussing them now? The title evokes much but perhaps too much. While I emphatically do not want to wipe away all ambiguity, several matters can at the outset be clarified.

As I use the couplet here, tough Jews refers to Jews who fight, who are violent in the public political sphere. The term has meaning only in relation to its counterparts, which I speak of throughout these pages as weak and/or gentle Jews. With the expression "weak Jews" I refer to the image of the Jew as victim, as the frail and meek object of anti-Semitic initiatives; with gentle Jew, I have in mind those who uphold in theory and practice the conviction that Jews must not be violent. I am interested in the relations between these apparently opposite types: tough Jews on the one hand and the weak or gentle ones

-i-

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