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146 SHOFAR Summer 1999 Vol. 17, No.4 diamond and ruby buttons. In his left hand he holds a slim ivory cane with a violet bowknot. A white lambkin peeks out ofhis waistcoat pocket." Davison, following some earlier critics, says flatly, "Rudy has become a Jewish 'fairy boy of eleven'" (his emphasis). And he sees in that image a confirmation of Bloom's commitment to Judaism. Not very likely. The Jews ofDublin in 1904, the time ofthe novel, were almost entirely Eastern European immigrants-Orthodox Jews-and their fust generation progeny, refugees from restrictive Russian laws of the 1880s and accompanying pogroms. Reading from right to left and a white lambkin, which could as easily be the agnus dei as the paschal lamb, do not make the image of Rudy "Jewish"-certainly not in a world in which Jews tended to mumble and sway when they prayed and wore somber clothes. The ostentatious continued kissing of the text while reading and the bizarre dress, with echoes in that dress of Christian, classical, and Celtic lore, would be outrageous as a symbol of Judaism to Jews of any persuasion, let alone Eastern European, Orthodox Jews at the turn ofthe century; and most of Joyce's Jewish friends, even though assimilated, would have told him so. I can only read mockery in the image. Davison's book is useful as a discussion ofhow Joyce's concept of Jews probably evolved; but I do not see it as a useful explanation of Leopold Bloom, one of the three central characters in Ulysses. Erwin R. Steinberg Carnegie Mellon University Jews Against Prejudice: American Jews and the Fight for Civil Liberties, by Stuart Svonkin. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997. 364 pp. $32.50. As Nathan Glazer famously lamented, "We are all multiculturalists now." Stuart Svonkin, in his well-researched history, shows that today's seemingly orrmipresent multiculturalism springs in part from the activism ofJewish defense groups ofthe 1930s and 1940s who expanded their campaigns for self-defense to an organized attack on the existence ofprejudice itself. Svonkin shows how Jews during this period developed an ideology centered upon a new "unitary theory ofprejudice." That is, the then radical idea that prejudice itself, no matter what group it was directed at, was a problem that all minority groups needed to be concerned with. This allowed Jewish groups like the Anti Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee to move beyond strictly Jewish issues to work with other minority groups, especially Blacks in the civil rights movement. Svonkin is especially strong in showing how these two Jewish groups were able to successfully mount and maintain a public education--or rather re-education-program Book Reviews 147 that ranged from films to ads on public transportation to the publication of a string of tremendously influential academic studies, the most famous of which was The Authoritarian Personality. The author then shows how these groups worked in tandem with the World Jewish Congress, which was successful in bringing about legal change in the form of anti-discriminatory laws in the areas of housing and employment practices. The major weakness of Svonkin's book is his failure to fully consider the reasons why Jewish activism, which until around 1967 identified itself with a kind of universal liberalism and the fight against the idea of unitary prejudice, once again became telescoped into a more narrow identity group politics that we see today and which men like Glazer lament. Svonkin places a great deal ofemphasis on the Six-Day War of 1967 for the change in Jewish activism. Yet he fails to consider that, at this same time, women, Blacks, Latinos, Chicanos, Gays, American Indians and others were all also abandoning the goals of liberal universalism to focus almost exclusively on the problems of their respective groups. Svonkin points out that the old idea of universal liberal activism had an "inherent contradiction"; that is, it did not make allowance for conflicts between minority groups. This, however, would seem to be begging the question. What we really need to know is why these conflicts arose and why they did so at this particular time and not at another. In a similar vein, Svonkin...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 146-147
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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