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Book Report: "Jews Against Zionism" by Thomas A. Kolsky (1990)

A few weeks ago, I borrowed this book through interlibrary loan. Many of you asked me to share my findings after I finished the book:

“Jews Against Zionism” is an interesting book. It purports to discuss the American Council for Judaism in its formative years (1942 – 1948). This it does, but rather incompletely. I’d say only forty percent of the book directly covers the ACJ’s activities and statements. This is a waste, because the ACJ said and did a lot of controversial things that would have been interesting to read about.

The book’s excerpts of ACJ articles, debates, letters, and newspaper ads are so small in number as to be nearly nonexistent. There are also no photos (or personal accounts of lay membership) to bring color, life, or press coverage to such a potentially interesting story.

The author is clearly biased against Zionism. Even in his occasional negative assessments of the ACJ, he makes sure to call Zionist viewpoints “unjust” or “wrong”. At no time does he entertain the possibility that the ACJ may have simply been wrong about the idea of Jewish statehood.

Ultimately, the book has not swayed me from my own Zionism. Most of the ACJ’s leaders and influencers – Elmer Berger, Kermit Roosevelt, Lessing Rosenwald, and Arthur Hays Sulzberger – strike me as angry, self-important, and even Judeophobic from time to time. The book has, however, given me pause about a few anti-Zionist arguments (still made today) and their potential merit.

This book is almost as old as I am. I’d like to learn how the author feels about the ACJ – and anti-Zionism in general – during today’s climate of antisemitism frequently cloaked as “mere criticism of Israel”.

I’m glad this book was written, but it is seriously flawed. Three out of five stars.

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