The Jewish Cold War: Anxiety and Identity in the Aftermath of the Holocaust
24th Annual Belin Lecture in American Jewish Public Affairs
Although scholars of the American Jewish experience have characterized the mid-century as a “time for healing,” a “golden age” for Jews, and a period characterized by “the emergence of a collective self-confidence and sense of well-being,” Susan Glenn’s lecture will show that this description distorts as much as it explains. Her topic is the “Jewish Cold War”—a contentious Jewish war of words over questions of intra-group loyalty, the meaning of Jewish identity in the aftermath of the holocaust, and the prospects for Jewish group “survival” in the U.S. This intra-Jewish war of words, which paralleled and drew rhetorical energy from America’s Cold War era preoccupations with the evils of Communism and “totalitarianism” in the late 1940s and early 1950s, pitted liberal Jewish intellectuals against Jewish ethnic particularists and nationalists, and forced the liberals to defend their principles in the face of charges of disloyalty to the Jewish collectivity.