Jews and Human Rights: Dancing at Three Weddings

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9780742552661: Jews and Human Rights: Dancing at Three Weddings

The history of human rights is intricately intertwined with the history of Jews. Drawing inspiration from their tradition and history, Jews have played a role in the human rights drama as victims, advocates, violators, and judges. Whether working to free persecuted Jews, prevent and intervene in genocides, defend Israel in human rights forums, or strengthen Israel's democracy, Jews have stood for―and stood up for―human rights.

In Jews and Human Rights: Dancing at Three Weddings, Michael Galchinsky states that Jews around the world have tried simultaneously to "dance at three weddings," celebrating their commitments to international human rights, Jewish nationalism, and domestic civil rights. After World War II, all three of these commitments seemed to be aligned, but now many Jews perceive them as distinct, or even opposed.

Michael Galchinsky investigates the contributions of Jewish non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the formation of international human rights, analyzing how they responded to the emerging tensions among their political commitments. He explores the cooperation and conflict among elite and grassroots organizations, the relationships among Jewish governmental officials and Jewish human rights activists, and examines the goals, strategies, and scope of Jewish human rights activism.

Making extensive use of previously unknown archival documents and interviews with key activists, Galchinsky recounts how Jews' initial optimism about human rights turned to pessimism and ambivalence―and argues that a reverse process may still be possible. Jews and Human Rights: Dancing at Three Weddings is intended for scholars, students and general readers of: modern Jewish history, Israeli international/transnational studies, human rights activists, diplomats, and international lawyers, history and politics, international law, UN history, cultural sociology, and genocide studies.

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About the Author:

Michael Galchinsky is associate professor of English and director of the Jewish Studies program at Georgia State University. He co-edited (with David Biale and Susannah Heschel) Insider/Outsider: American Jews and Multiculturalism and is the author of The Origin of the Modern Jewish Woman Writer: Romance and Reform in Victorian England.

Review:

This clear-eyed and comprehensive history of the significant Jewish involvement in international human rights breaks new scholarly ground. Galchinsky carefully delineates how external and internal pressures have shaped and transformed Jewish human rights agendas in Israel and on the worldwide stage. (Judith R. Baskin, University of Oregon)

Michael Galchinsky has given us an intricate picture of the personalities, politics, and practices that make up Jewish human rights activities in the contemporary world. He presents a nuanced view of the post-modern struggle to articulate a Jewish approach to human rights that is pulled in a variety of directions by often opposing forces. (Peter J. Haas, Case Western Reserve University)

This book offers an original analysis of the crucial role that Jews have played in the rise of modern international human rights movements. It is strongest in its ability to understand the tensions that Jewish human rights activists face in trying to foster global human rights and human rights in Israel in the face of a pronounced bias against Israel in the so-called 'international human rights community.' A major contribution to the sociology of human rights in the modern worldddd (Thomas Cushman, Wellesley College)

This is an important work. In his meticulous examination of three major instances of Jewish and Israeli human rights advocacy since World War II, Michael Galchinsky has elucidated the political and practical limits of this activism as well as the undoubted accomplishments. Highly recommended for students of contemporary history as well as for the general reader. (Carole Fink, The Ohio State University)

Michael Galchinsky's boundary-shattering analysis in Jews and Human Rights looks at all of the roles in the evolving world of 'human rights' assumed by Jews―Jews as victims and claimants, as organizers and theoreticians, as activists and critics. Galchinsky explores this complex and often contradictory and controversial relationship in a way to merge legal, cultural, and intellectual history into a readable narrative of the history of the Jews in the modern world. A brilliant book! (Sander L. Gilman, Emory University)

This book offers an original analysis of the crucial role that Jews have played in the rise of modern international human rights movements. It is strongest in its ability to understand the tensions that Jewish human rights activists face in trying to foster global human rights and human rights in Israel in the face of a pronounced bias against Israel in the so-called 'international human rights community.' A major contribution to the sociology of human rights in the modern world (Thomas Cushman, Wellesley College)

This is an important, timely and well-researched scholarly work. It presents a unique perspective of looking at the issue of human rights from the particular to the universal in the global age. An essential work for understanding the inter-related issues of human rights, Jewish activists, and Israel. (Fred A. Lazin, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel)

This book is informative and readable. Recommended. (CHOICE)

More studies are needed that take what we know of complex transnational Jewish identities and examine their rich relationships with the state, including intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations. In Dancing at Three Weddings, Michael Galchinsky marries the two. While many traditional histories examine genocide in graphic detail, Galchinsky's contribution is a catalog of the motivations and responses by a diverse community of Jews to deal with postwar tragedies. (American Jewish History)

Since World War II, Jews, working alone or through NGOs, have been active in the international human rights movement. While many books have been written on the biblical and rabbinic context for Jewish involvement in social action, Galchinsky focuses instead on sociological and political motvies. The book includes extensive notes, bibliography, and index. Recommended for academic libraries. (AJL Newsletter, November/December 2009)

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