The one thing about America that always succored and protected Jews - and indeed people of all backgrounds - was our fealty to the rule of law, including equal protection under the law. This was particularly true of the Jews, however, because of their deep love of the rule of law, leading to so many of our greatest lawyers and jurists being Jewish. If you look around the globe, which nations are doing the best ? Those with a reverence for the law. And in America, who is destroying the rule of law? The progressive Democrats. Who refuse to enforce our immigration laws, who concoct plots and coups, who meddle in free elections, who practice two systems of justice in which Hunter Biden is not prosecuted and people such as Fauci, Brennan and Clapper lie to Congress with impunity. A nation where the rule of law is degraded is not a safe place. For Jews or anyone else. Why is this so hard to understand?

Expand full comment

I'm Catholic, and my perspective on humanity was shaped by a Jew.

There are only 2 'races': the decent and the indecent. (Viktor Frankl)

Expand full comment

This is a weird piece. I grant you the "but Hitler said" comment is over the top bizarre, and I don't even know what to say about "go to the gas" - Jesus 'effing Christ - but I see here more a story of children being ignorant, as children often are, than any meaningful lesson about the Jewish experience in America. America is a very big and diverse place and Jewish people are not randomly distributed across it.

I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin in the 70s and knew exactly one Jewish family before I moved to a larger city for college. There was no synagogue in town. They drove 15 miles to a bigger town for services in what was probably the only synagogue for 100 miles around. (I actually know this because the family wasn't just people who's existence we were aware of. They were neighbors and we were friendly with them. They socialized with my parents, their children (quite a bit younger than me) played with my younger siblings.)

But my point is I was still pretty ignorant about their Judaism, and most people in small town America at the time didn't even have the benefit of knowing one Jewish family like I did. So ignorance is to be expected. We all only know what we know, and none of us knows everything. Bottom line, I think expecting those girls not to have some stupid ideas about Jews is unrealistic and probably a little unfair. And I certainly don't think it means they thought all Jews should be dead.

That misconception seems to be a launching point in this piece for the claim that most people have "an affection for dead Jews." The evidence is pretty thin. That's certainly not the world I live in. I don't doubt we have a certain amount of serious anti-semitism in America, and considerably more of the kind of simple ignorance I grew up with. But this piece comes dangerously close to simply pleading for a better position on the intersectional victim status hierarchy org chart. I'm probably gonna skip this book.

Expand full comment

I am not Jewish, and I find Dara's point of view extremely interesting. It is always helpful to hear the other person's perspective.

She says one thing which I think she loses later on: "Those girls were not stupid, and probably not even bigoted. But in their entirely typical and well-intentioned education, they had learned about Jews mainly because people had killed Jews." I'd like to examine that in two parts.

First, I agree that the girls were probably not bigoted, just confounded. They clearly had no idea she was Jewish until she told them. Jewishness had not been part of their (very young) life experience, and they asked the sort of questions we all ask of things that surprise us. This takes nothing from Dara's legitimate consternation at their reaction, but it adds to it: Dara was as surprised by their incomprehension as they were by her different experience. Neither side knew how to react to the other.

It's a shame that conversation abruptly ended: both might have profited from it going further.

Second, and I say this extremely respectfully, there's a reason non-Jews focus on dead Jews: dead Jews are a horrifying sin and a monstrous crime committed by non-Jews.

Non-Jews (although not enough of them today) look upon the Holocaust, and the entire history of Jewish persecution, as something which must never be allowed to happen again, and which must be remembered to be prevented. We are very aware that Jews have been uniquely singled out for persecution throughout history (though they don't always understand why) and thus deserve a special degree of protection. Evangelical Christians tend to be aware that this persecution goes back as far as Egypt, and at times has been the fault of Christians, which is one of the reasons (though not the only one) we tend toward Zionism. We see the protection of Jews as a duty, the righting of grave wrongs, and also in no small degree a measure of civilization.

But Dara is right (though she does not seem to understand the reason why) that we (as a group) are not thereby equally interested in Jewishness. There's a reason, and it's not ugly. Taking an interest in someone's not being wronged is not the same thing as becoming an enthusiast, or a recruit.

In the Cold War, many non-French were interested in defending France from Soviet conquest, and many non-Koreans were interested in defending South Korea from North Korean conquest. But that was not the same thing as wanting to learn French or Korean culture, much less becoming French or Korean: it was simply a desire to prevent injustice. Beyond that, many of us just wanted to live and let live, to provide space for the freedom of those French and Koreans to be French and Korean.

This was not unkind. In some ways, it was actively self-sacrificing. It simply wasn't fully engaged. We had, after all, cultures of our own.

There are countless cultures in the world. No one can deeply understand them all. But I don't consider a Jew or a Bengali "perverse" if they focus their attention on some past injustice against me, or hope to prevent some future injustice against me, rather than taking deep interest in my favorite authors, cuisine or customs. Quite the contrary: they don't owe me any attention at all, and I'm grateful for whatever they give, so long as it is well-intended.

So I come back to my earlier point. It would have been good, I think, had Dara's conversation with those teenage girls gone on. They all misunderstood each other: it was not a one-way street. And had they progressed beyond that, all of them could have avoided hurts that were never intended and possibly weren't even necessary, both in that moment and for the rest of their lives.

That's a lot to ask of teenage girls. But it's something we should all work toward wherever we're able.

Expand full comment

“who helped me see that the fate of Jews and the fate of liberty are intertwined;”


I can’t be the only one who noticed that White Supremacy becoming the greatest threat coincided precisely with Jews being labeled as ‘whites’.

To be clear, Italians and Norwegians are both labeled ‘white’, so Jews being considered white seems reasonable enough to me........unless the people doing the labeling are the shittiest people on the planet (D).

Expand full comment

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by ignorance. -- a slight twist on Harlon's Razor.

Expand full comment

Tim Lyons14 hr ago

Bari, watched your interview with Ben Shapiro today on Daily Wire. As was the case the first time I heard of you on Megyn Kelly’s podcast about a year ago, you blew me away. Your mission and clarion call for “courage” from all who believe in freedom of speech and the right to express our opinions and thoughts respectfully and without fear is inspiring. Just wanted to say how much I admire your courage and passion for this cause. Realize you are working incredibly hard but, as I follow your work and listen to your podcast, I firmly believe you will one day be recognized as a key player in our return as a republic to respectful and fearless discourse. As a 69 year old who loves the United States and the tremendous opportunities it has afforded me and my family, I’m spreading the gospel of Bari Weiss and Common Sense to all willing to listen to an informed and intelligent POV. A sincere thanks for all you are doing. Keeping you in my prayers, friend. Tim Lyons, Dallas

Expand full comment

I’m not sure why non Jews not knowing three Jewish authors would be mystifying or sad. Could the average Jew name three catholic authors? Could a white person name three black authors? Do we need to know the biography of the authors of books we read? And why should we care? This seems overly sensitive to me.

Auschwitz. Terezin. Bergen Belsen.

Some things non Jews know. Some things non Jews don’t.

Expand full comment

I've been researching my wife's Hungarian ancestors in the 19th Century, from a community which 50 odd years later was largely destroyed - turned into Dead Jews - by the Germans and fellow Hungarians (Christians). I've been looking through a decade of records of Marriages in the Neolog (Conservative) Synagogue in Budapest. I've come away elated at the vast number of records of optimistic, aspirant Jewish families joining together. Often many each day. This was and is, the Jewish answer to those who are comfortable only around dead Jews. "Be fruitful and mutiply". My modern day version is seeing my grandchildren being born, thriving, one to marry, closely followed by another, studying and living in Israel where the threats are in full sight, not hidden, as in the USA. The comfort zone of American Jews has shrivelled up. They must quickly change the US or maybe, move to the one place where Jewish - and secular - life is as normal as it used to be in the US.

Expand full comment

On more than one occasion, when I was an undergrad, a Jewish, self-identified "progressive" with whom I was arguing, would play the anti-Semitism card (i.e. attempt to dismiss an argument by falsely portraying it as anti-Semitic). Other Jews I knew wisely called them on it as being cheap and dishonoring the experience of real anti-Semitism. It was a good lesson for me: beware the trap of victimhood. I do not wish to dismiss this writer’s experience or her important work, but if I spent as much time as she apparently does cataloguing all the stupidity, unfairness, bigotry and sheer viciousness directed against me and mine, I fear that at the very least I’d become blind to anything else.

Expand full comment

Like those 2 girls from Mississippi, i too was raised in the bible belt, but in my case west texas oil country - in the 60's it might have made the south seem forward thinking. If i ever met a Jewish person, they didn't advertise it.

Almost everyone i knew was baptist or methodist and i heard much more disparaging remarks about Catholics than Jews (like if JFK gets elected then the Pope will be the president). in fact, the first time i heard anything about Jews other than the Holocaust was in the stupid movie "Porky's" at the age of about 25.

So, how would one expect those 2 girls to know?

big difference in hate and complete ignorance.

Expand full comment

It was a gift to those Mississippi girls to see and hear about somebody unlike themselves. I bet it changed them in some small way. Likely the next time they met a jewish person they were a tad less rude and bewildered. I remember as a southern girl from Oklahoma being enormously curious about my first grade classmate. She wore adorable curly pigtails that were always slightly askew, kneesocks and saddle oxfords. She didn't eat bacon and went to Temple and not church. She said she believed Jesus existed but not that he was a messiah. I was fascinated. I asked countless rude questions when we were 8, 9 and 10. She never took offense. She came from a long line of south carolina jews on her mother's side; her father's people were orthodox Northeasterners. We became best friends. I went to Friday night Temple with her and even Hebrew school and sunday school. I was spending the night and so i just joined in. We didn't get into elaborate discussions about religion--we mostly talked about boys and clothes. But I loved it. The food and all the stories about Rabbi Packman. My mouth still waters when i think about the food after Friday night temple. Exposure is a wonderful thing. My friend's younger sister is blond with blue eyes btw.

Expand full comment

I grew up the daughter of a Catholic mother and a Jewish father in the fifties and sixties. I went to a Catholic school where everyone knew my father was Jewish. Most Gentiles knew nothing about Jewish people but to think of them as “others”. Anti-semitism was alive and well in 1959 and beyond.

Expand full comment

Link to Amazon? Really? There are so many independent book sellers who are struggling why give Bezos the business? Link to Bookshop.org!

Expand full comment

Jewish people have always played an important part in this former Catholic woman's life. I was raised in Brooklyn, New York, and I remember my grandmother taking me to shop where the Jewish merchants sold wares from their pushcarts. On my way to and from Catholic school every day I would pass the local synagogue. I became so fascinated with it and wanted to walk up the never ending steps to open the door and peek in but was too afraid. When we moved to Long Island, I attended public school where I met and had many Jewish friends. Not surprising that I married a Jewish man from Philadelphia and converted to Judaism (of my own choice). I remember working for an art company and one of the secretaries treated me in a cool manner, until one day I mentioned I had attended Catholic school. Her attitude changed and she became more sociable towards me. That was my first encounter with the subtleties in people's minds about what it means to be Jewish. After a few years of marriage, my Nana told me about her first boyfriend, a Jewish boy she met while working one summer in the Catskills. They got engaged and were planning to be married when her Old World uncles threatened him and she never saw him again. I believe the way in which we meet people and interact with them can blow their ideas out of the water about Jewish people, but there will always be those who harbor hate against Jews. What I find intriguing about Dara Horn's excerpt is her thesis about how people are more interested in dead Jews than living ones. It's something I've never thought about, and for this reason, I have to continue to read her compelling story.

Expand full comment

I just requested the new book and the novel "Eternal Life" from the library.

Expand full comment