Can We Talk?

Bruce Rosenstock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Universities are places where many students will feel uncomfortably challenged in their cherished identities, if those are identities of privilege. On December 11, 2019, Jewish identity was singled out for special protection against harassment and discrimination under Title VI by President Trump’s executive order, with anti-Jewish harassment defined as including statements such as “the Jewish people do not have a right to self-determination” and “Israel is a racist endeavor.” Singling out Jewish identity for protection by a centralized authority, regardless of what one thinks about the Jewish state, has been a favored tactic of Jewish survival, as Benzion Netanyahu long ago pointed out, and it is dangerous because it makes all Jews the target of resentment by other, lesser protected groups, and because it leaves Jews without political allies if the centralized power abandons them. Furthermore, it runs against the political principles of the pluralistic democracies in which Jews are best able to flourish when they live outside the ethnonational majoritarian Jewish state. Weaponizing Title VI by creating a special protection for Jews, whatever one’s views of the Jewish state, is not a long-term strategy for Jewish communal flourishing in America. The American and Israeli Jewish communities should recognize that there are two kinds of Jewish politics: one that fits Jewish life in a pluralistic democracy, and another that fits life in a ethnonational majoritarian democracy. It is best not to mix these two forms of politics, even if in the Trump era they seemed to have become united.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-145
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • Jewish politics
  • Title VI
  • anti-Zionism
  • antisemitism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies


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