WS 505: Media: Issues of Race, Class and Gender:
Cornerstones of Peace: Jewish Identity Politics and Democratic Theory
by Marla Brettschneider
Rutgers University Press, 1996
excerpt from book cover: Throughout the seventies, the idea of being “pro-Israel” was traditionally equated with support for the Israeli government and was central to an understanding of American Jewish identity. It was so central, argues Marla Brettschneider, that ever committed activists who took issue with such a monolithic stance were silenced by mainstream Jewish organizations. But during the 1980s, a change took place. An explosion of new Jewish groups intent on challenging the dominant definition of the pro-Israel attitude transformed an increasingly closed Jewish community into one more democratic and inclusive.
In Cornerstones of Peace, Marla Brettschneider skillfully combines a lucid review of Liberal political theory and its understanding of the role of groups in the political process, a sophisticated analysis of Hobbesian philosophy, and a rich history of Jewish activist groups like Breira, Americans for Peace Now (APN), and The Jewish Women’s Consultation to ask: What can we learn about identity and democratic theory from the changes that have taken place in the Jewish community? Through an insightful exploration of how small, activist groups have reclaimed pro-Israel identity politics as a collective multilayered process, Brettschneider adds her voice to the growing number of political theorists envisioning a pro-diversity alternative to Liberal political thought. She theorizes about a new democratic process, showing philosophers and activists how to envision and enact a more vibrant and inclusive political life.