Sunday, February 16, 2014

Why Anti-Zionist Jews Are a Minority. By Jonathan S. Tobin.

Why Anti-Zionist Jews Are a Minority. By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, February 16, 2014.

A Conflict of Faith: Devoted to Jewish Observance, but at Odds With Israel. By Mark Oppenheimer. New York Times, February 14, 2014.

The Magnes Zionist in the New York Times. By Charles H. Manekin. The Magnes Zionist, February 10, 2014.

Hell freezes over (NYT publishes glowing profiles of anti-Zionists). By Philip Weiss. Mondoweiss, February 15, 2014.

Orthodox Jew? Hate Israel? The New York Times Wants to Interview You. By Yarden Frankl. HonestReporting, February 16, 2014.

Glorifying Fringe Jewish Extremists at the NY Times. By Ronn Torossian. FrontPage Magazine, February 18, 2014.

The Quirkiness of the Israel-Free Jews. By Shmuel Rosner. Jewish Journal, February 18, 2014.

Why Religious Judaism Is Tied to Nationalism. By Liel Leibovitz. Tablet, February 18, 2014.

Replies to Shmuel Rosner and Liel Leibovitz. By Charles H. Manekin. The Magnes Zionist, February 18, 2014.

Zionism without a Jewish state. By Charles H. Manekin. The Magnes Zionist, August 12, 2007.


It is a principle of journalism that news consists of those events that are out of the ordinary. The old cliché is that when man bites dog, it’s news. A dog biting a man is not. Thus, the conceit of the New York Times Beliefs column feature on Friday met that basic standard for newsworthiness. A story about religious Jews who actively oppose the existence of the State of Israel is one in which it must be conceded that the subjects are unusual.
The Pew Research Center of U.S. Jews published in October reported that 91 percent of Orthodox Jews, 88 percent of Conservative Jews, and even 70 percent of those who identified themselves as Reform Jews are either very or somewhat emotionally attached to Israel. That means any discussion about observant Jews who are anti-Zionists is, by definition, one about a very tiny minority. But considering that three of the five Jews whose views are featured in the piece seem to fall into the category of Modern Orthodox, of whom 99 percent told Pew they were very or somewhat attached to Israel with one percent saying “not very attached” and zero percent “not at all attached,” the trio constitute a sample of a group that is not merely a minority but one so small that it is statistically insignificant.
Once that is understood, it becomes clear that one of the main failings of the article is not only the fact that its author has no interest in challenging their views but that it fails to put that fact in proper perspective. The Orthodox trio and the one Conservative Jew and one Reconstructionist movement rabbi (whose views may not be all that out of the ordinary among that small left-leaning demographic) highlighted are a peculiar minority. But the willingness of the paper to give them such favorable attention illustrates once again the falsity of the notion that it takes courage for Jews to oppose Israel. To the contrary, as was made clear last week by the controversy over two Manhattan rabbis who defied many of the congregants by signing a letter denouncing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), those Jews who publicly denounce Israel can always look forward to the applause of the mainstream media.
While this quintet are entitled to their views about Israel and appear to be none the worse for wear for being so determined to flout the views of their co-religionists, two aspects of the article are particularly objectionable. One is the article’s assumption that there is something remarkable about the fact that they are able to go about their business while living in a Jewish community and attending synagogue without much trouble. The second is the failure of the piece to acknowledge that the views their subjects express are inherently bigoted.
It should be acknowledged that the article is correct when it states that prior to 1948, support for Zionism was not universal among American Jews. Many Jews, especially those affiliated with “classic” Reform temples, viewed it as a threat to the rights of American Jews to be treated as equal citizens in the United States. The reason the adherents of that view declined from minority status to statistical insignificance is that Israel’s creation did no such thing. To the contrary, the creation of a Jewish state only a few years after the Nazis and their collaborators had killed nearly one third of the Jews on the planet engendered the respect of other Americans as well as enhancing the self-esteem of every Jew in the world whether he or she was religious or a Zionist.
Israel gained its independence because the Jews had a right to sovereignty in their ancient homeland and not as compensation for the Holocaust. The sweat and the blood of the Jews who built Israel and fought to defend it earned that independence. But the Holocaust made it abundantly clear, even to those who had never previously given the idea their support, that without a Jewish state to defend them, Diaspora Jews who had not been lucky enough to make it the United States or the other English-speaking countries that had not succumbed to the Nazis would always be at the mercy of violent anti-Semitism. That was just as true of Jews who lived in Muslim and Arab countries (who were forced to flee their homes after 1948) as it was of the Jews of Europe. Theodor Herzl’s understanding of the inevitable fate of a homeless Jewry—a thesis that he adopted after seeing Alfred Dreyfus being degraded in Paris as a mob shouted, “Death to the Jews”—was sadly vindicated by the events of the first half of the 20th century.
Though their neighbors and fellow congregants treat them with the toleration that Israel’s foes do not extend to the Jewish state, the common failing of the five anti-Zionist Jews in the Times story is their failure to account for this basic historical lesson that the rest of their community understands. One need not support every action of the government of the State of Israel or have no sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians to understand that not only does Israel have a right to exist but that its fall would endanger the lives of its people and, by extension, Jews everywhere. The notion put forward by one of the subjects that “non-statist Zionism” would succeed was exploded several decades ago by the refusal of Arab opponents of the Jewish presence in Israel/Palestine to accept Jews on any terms.
Nor does the article ask its subjects why the Jews, of all peoples, should be asked to forgo the right to their own country when no other nation is required to do so. Cynthia Ozick famously wrote that universalism is the parochialism of the Jews. But it takes a particularly perverse kind of universalism to say that Jews should have fewer rights than other peoples.
But what is particularly disingenuous about the Times article is the unwillingness to hold its subjects accountable for the thinly veiled anti-Semitism that often masquerades as anti-Zionism in contemporary debates. Groups like Jewish Voices for Peace—which is supported by one of the quintet—aren’t content to support liberal Israelis or to criticize Israel’s government. Instead it seeks to wage economic warfare on Israel in order to destroy it. If the only imperfect state that is seen as worthy of such a fate is the one Jewish one—rather than the many others founded on national or religious principles—then it is clear that the driving force behind anti-Zionism is prejudice and not concern about human rights. Websites like Mondoweiss, to which one of the five contributes, similarly trades in anti-Jewish stereotypes in its campaign against Zionism.
What the overwhelming majority of Jews know that these five people and their adoring audience at the Times don’t is that opposition to Israel’s existence—as opposed to criticism of it—is taking a stand against the right of the Jewish people to life. While there is a portion of the ultra-Orthodox community that also holds to anti-Zionism because of their own bizarre interpretation of Judaism (which strangely goes unmentioned in the article), non-Haredim who do so are fighting common sense, history, and the basic principles of fairness. If those who adopt such positions are a minority, it is not due to any resistance on the part of the majority to ethics or concern for others but because of the implausibility of their beliefs.


There is no question that Charles H. Manekin is a rarity. Not because he is an Orthodox Jew who keeps the Sabbath, refraining from driving, turning on lights, even riding in elevators on Saturdays. Rather, this philosophy professor at the University of Maryland is rare because he believes that his Orthodox faith calls him to take stands against Israel.
Professor Manekin, 61, became Orthodox in college and became an Israeli citizen in the 1980s. Yet in an interview this week, he denounced Israel’s “excessive reliance” on military force, its treatment of Arab citizens and its occupation of the West Bank. Although not a member of the American Studies Association, he was pleased when the group voted in December not to collaborate with Israeli academic institutions — the “academic boycott.” He is “sympathetic” to B.D.S., as the global movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel is known.
“As a religious Jew,” he said, “I am especially disturbed by the daily injustices perpetrated against the Palestinians.”
The vast majority of Jews consider themselves supportive of Israel. They may quarrel with various Israeli policies, but since the state’s founding in 1948, and especially since the 1967 war, Zionism has been a common denominator of world Jewry.
And while there have always been anti- or non-Zionist Jews, today they cluster on the less observant end of Judaism, among secular or religiously liberal Jews. In such a world, Professor Manekin — a modern Orthodox Jew in a skullcap whose religion moves him to oppose Israel — is exceedingly rare.
Zionism was not always the norm among American Jews. Nevertheless, those committed to Jewish practice but openly at odds with Israel are now likely to find themselves at odds with their friends and family. In the past couple of months, events like the American Studies vote and the endorsement by the actress Scarlett Johansson of a seltzer-maker in the occupied West Bank have multiplied the opportunities for tense family dinners.
Professor Manekin spends about half the year in Israel, where his children and grandchildren live, so he is hardly boycotting the country with his own dollars (or shekels). But since 2007 he has regularly offered criticisms of Israel on his blog, The Magnes Zionist. It is named for Judah L. Magnes, an American rabbi who, until his death in 1948, argued that a Jewish return to the Middle East did not require a nation-state.
“People look at ‘non-statist Zionism’ as the type that lost,” Professor Manekin said this week, referring to Rabbi Magnes’s philosophy. “But I found a lot of what they were saying resonated today, and a lot of their predictions about endless war had come to pass.”

Manekin [The Magnes Zionist in the NYT]:

The piece says my religion leads me “to  oppose Israel.” That’s ambiguous; it could mean “oppose Israel’s policies” (yes) or “oppose  how the Jewish state was envisioned and came into being” (yes), or “oppose the very idea of a Jewish state” (that depends). No, I am not opposed to any Jewish state. As my colleague, Jerome Slater, has said, I don’t have a problem with a Jewish state – it’s this Jewish state I have a problem with. I can imagine Israel  evolving into a liberal state of all its citizens, a state that fosters both Hebrew culture and a connection with the Jewish people, and a state that sees its non-Jewish citizens as belonging with the Jews to the Israeli nation – a Hebrew (and Arabic) Republic, to use Bernard Avishai’s phrase. I can also see Israel/Palestine evolving into a binational state or a federation, or whatever. What I insist upon is that both peoples – the Israeli and the Palestinian – have maximum self-determination, maximum security, and maximum opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  And that cannot be done, in my opinion, within the framework of the current ethnically-exclusivist state that is mired in nineteenth religio-ethnic nationalism. Rightly called by Oren Yiftachel an “ethnocracy,” Israel presents itself to the world and to itself as a liberal democracy.  In fact, it is marching backward and not forward.
My idea of a Jewish state is a state that Jews and Palestinians can be proud of, and that incorporates in its public space and public support elements of the Jewish and Palestinian cultural past.  With over five million Israeli Jews, I am not looking to de-Judaize the culture of the state of Israel. But I would separate religion and state, and when the Palestinian Israeli writer Sayed Kashua writes a column in Hebrew in Haaretz,  I, as an Israeli, celebrate my fellow Israeli as an Israeli writer, a member of the Israeli people. But the  phrase the Israeli people is one you will never hear in Israel – it’s only Am Yisrael, the Jewish people. And I don’t want a nation-state of the Jewish people in that sense.
But don’t the Jews have a right, like other peoples, to a state of their own? No they don’t, and neither do other peoples. Self-determination, yes; statehood, that depends – and never at the expense of other people’s rights, in this case, the natives of Palestine.

Anti-Semitic Play on Egyptian TV: Mossad Agents Behind the Arab Spring.

Anti-Semitic Play on Egyptian TV: Mossad Agents Behind the Arab Spring. MEMRI. Video Clip No. 4153, February 16, 2014. YouTube. Also at Elder of Ziyon.

The U.S. Middle Class Is Turning Proletarian. By Joel Kotkin.

The U.S. Middle Class Is Turning Proletarian. By Joel Kotkin. Forbes, February 16, 2014. Also at New

Our Proletarian Middle Class. By Walter Russell Mead and Staff. The American Interest, February 19, 2014.


The biggest issue facing the American economy, and our political system, is the gradual descent of the middle class into proletarian status. This process, which has been going on intermittently since the 1970s, has worsened considerably over the past five years, and threatens to turn this century into one marked by downward mobility.
The decline has less to do with the power of the “one percent” per se than with the drying up of opportunity amid what is seen on Wall Street and in the White House as a sustained recovery. Despite President Obama’s rhetorical devotion to reducing inequality, it has widened significantly under his watch. Not only did the income of the middle 60% of households drop between 2010 and 2012 while that of the top 20% rose, the income of the middle 60% declined by a greater percentage than the poorest quintile. The middle 60% of earners’ share of the national pie has fallen from 53% in 1970 to 45% in 2012.
This group, what I call the yeoman class — the small business owners, the suburban homeowners , the family farmers or skilled construction tradespeople– is increasingly endangered. Once the dominant class in America, it is clearly shrinking: In the four decades since 1971 the percentage of Americans earning between two-thirds and twice the national median income has dropped from 61% to 51% of the population, according to Pew.
Roughly one in three people born into middle class-households , those between the 30th and 70th percentiles of income, now fall out of that status as adults.
Neither party has a reasonable program to halt the decline of the middle class. Previous generations of liberals — say Walter Reuther, Hubert Humphrey, Harry Truman, Pat Brown — recognized broad-based economic growth was a necessary precursor to upward mobility and social justice. However, many in the new wave of progressives engage in fantastical economics built around such things as “urban density” and “green jobs,” while adopting policies that restrict growth in manufacturing, energy and housing. When all else fails, some, like Oregon’s John Kitzhaber, try to change the topic by advocating shifting emphasis from measures of economic growth to “happiness.”
Other more ideologically robust liberals, like New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, call for a strong policy of redistribution, something with particular appeal in a city with one of the highest levels of income inequality in the country. Over time a primarily redistributionist approach may improve some material conditions, but is likely to help create a permanent underclass of dependents, including part-time workers, perpetual students, and service employees living hand to mouth, who can make ends meet only if taxpayers subsidize their housing, transportation and other necessities.
Given the challenge being mounted by de Blasio and hard left Democrats, one would imagine that business and conservative leaders would try to concoct a response. But for the most part, particularly at the national level, they offer little more than bromides about low taxes, particularly for the well-heeled investor and rentier classes, while some still bank on largely irrelevant positions on key social issues to divert the middle class from their worsening economic plight.
The country’s rise to world preeminence and admiration stemmed from the fact that its prosperity was widely shared. In the first decades after the Second World War, when the percentage of households earning middle incomes doubled to 60%, it was no mirage, but a fundamental accomplishment of enlightened capitalism.
In contrast, the current downgrading of the middle class undermines the appeal of the “democratic capitalism” that so many conservative intellectuals espouse. In reality, capitalism is becoming less democratic: stock ownership has become more concentrated, with the percentage of adult Americans owning stock the lowest since 1999 and a full 13 points less than 2007. The fact that poverty — reflected in such things as an expansion of food stamp use — has now spread beyond the cities to the suburbs, something much celebrated among urban-centric pundits, is further confirmation of the yeomanry’s stark decline.
How our political leaders respond to this challenge of downward mobility will define the future of our Republic. Some see a future shaped by automation that would “permanently end” what one author calls “the age of mass human labor,” allowing productivity to rise without significant increases in wages. In this world, the current American middle and working class would be economically passé.
One would hope business would have a better option that would restart upward mobility. Lower taxes on the investor class, less regulation of Wall Street, and the mass immigration of cheap workers — all the rage among investment bankers, tech oligarchs and those with inherited wealth — does not constitute a compelling program of middle-class uplift. Nor does resistance, particularly among the Tea Party, to make the human and physical infrastructure investment that could help restore strong economic growth.
Fortunately history gives us hope that this decline can be turned around. The early decades of the Industrial Revolution saw a similar societal decline, as once independent artisans and farmers became fodder for the factory lines. Divorce and drunkenness grew as religious attendance failed. But a pattern of reform, in Britain, America and even Germany, helped restore labor’s place in the economy, and rapid growth provided the basis not only for the expansion of the middle class, but remarkably improvements in its well-being.
A pro-growth program today could take several forms that defy the narrow logic of both left and right. We can encourage the growth of high-wage, blue-collar industries such as construction, energy and manufacturing. We can also reform taxes so that the burdens fall less on employers and employees, as opposed to those who simply profit from asset inflation. And rather than impose huge tuitions on students who might not finish with a degree that offers employment opportunities, let’s place new emphasis on practical skills training for both the new generation and those being left behind in this “recovery.” Most importantly, the benefits of capitalism need be more widely shared if business hopes to gain support from the middle class for their agenda.

Gideon Levy: Baron of the Israel Falsehood Industry. By Ben Dror Yemini.

Gideon Levy: Baron of the Falsehood Industry. By Ben Dror Yemini. CAMERA. Originally published in Maariv in Hebrew, October 15, 2010. Also here.

Haaretz, Gideon Levy, and the Israel apartheid canard. By Ben Dror Yemini. The Times of Israel, October 26, 2012.

Gideon Levy: The Most Hated Man in Israel – and the Most Heroic. By Johann Hari. The Huffington Post, September 23, 2010. Also at The Independent.

Gideon Levi: I Hate “Settlers,” and I’m Proud of It. By David Lev. Arutz Sheva 7, November 8, 2012.

Israelis’ ideal state: A country without criticism. By Gideon Levy. Haaretz, May 23, 2010.

Racism has reared its head and the public is apathetic. By Gideon Levy. Haaretz, December 23, 2010. Also here.

When Did It Become Illegal to Be a Leftist in Israel? By Gideon Levy. Haaretz, January 6, 2011.

Israel is the most naïve and racist country in the West. By Gideon Levy. Haaretz, May 31, 2012.

Survey: Most Israeli Jews Wouldn’t Give Palestinians Vote if West Bank Was Annexed. By Gideon Levy. Haaretz, October 23, 2012.

Apartheid without shame or guilt. By Gideon Levy. Haaretz, October 23, 2012.

Israel’s Apartheid reality: Gideon Levy’s “In Praise of Superland.” By Kim Bullimore. Live From Occupied Palestine, June 9, 2013. Translation by Sol Salbe of Levy’s article in the Hebrew edition of Haaretz, June 4, 2013. This is a vicious anti-Israel, pro-BDS website.

The migrants aren’t the problem – Israel’s racism is. By Gideon Levy. Haaretz, December 22, 2013.

Blood, crime, Russian immigrants and racism; an apology. By Gideon Levy. Haaretz, December 26, 2013.

The life-threatening obsession with the Jewish state. By Gideon Levy. Haaretz, January 19, 2014.

Haaretz Calls Idea of Jewish State Obsession. By Yori Yanover. The Jewish Press, January 19, 2014.

Who’s afraid of a binational state? By Gideon Levy. Haaretz, February 2, 2014.

John Kerry’s Mideast peace deal is a disaster. By Gideon Levy. Haaretz, February 13, 2014.

Eradicate the Jewish state. By Gideon Levy. Haaretz, February 16, 2014.

The World Is Sick of Israel and Its Insanities. By Gideon Levy. Haaretz, June 26, 2014.

Is Gideon Levy a liar or does he just ignore the news he doesn’t want to see? Elder of Ziyon, June 26, 2014.

“United States of Israel” has compromised U.S. “sovereignty” on Iran policy — Gideon Levy in D.C. By Philip Weiss. Mondoweiss, April 12, 2015.

Israeli Propaganda Isn't Fooling Anyone Except Israelis. By Gideon Levy. Haaretz, June 4, 2015.

Levy says BDS may undo Israeli denial and propaganda– even as Lapid calls it Hamas’s “puppet.” By Philip Weiss. Mondoweiss, June 7, 2015.

Israel’s “Jewish Majority” Obsession. By Gideon Levy. Haaretz, September 13, 2015.

Ari Shavit called Gideon Levy an “enemy of the Jewish people” for wanting secular, democratic state. By Ira Glunts. Mondoweiss, November 22, 2013. Video at YouTube.

Video transcript:

Dan Margalit (host): If two peoples seriously intend to live in peace, the Palestinians shouldn’t have a problem with Ofra or Ariel staying where they are. Let’s say that we stole the land. Let’s say that we’ll pay for the land. We’re a people that pays for land – ever since the days of the Cave of Machpelah [i.e. the time of Abraham -trans.]…. That’s not the point. The point is your rejection of the very idea – not yours, maybe, Abu Mazen’s, Yasser Arafat’s – of the very idea that a Jewish community [Heb. “yishuv”] can exist in the heart of Palestine.
Gideon Levy: Why? Would you allow the Arabs of Nablus to live in Tel Aviv?
Margalit: What’s the connection?
Levy: Ah, suddenly. What’s the connection?
Shavit: You’re a total demagogue. They don’t recognise the state of the Jewish people. They don’t recognize the Jewish people and its right. That’s the issue. That’s what you’re ignoring. You always take this extreme part.
Levy: You are the extreme right. I have nothing to discuss with you. You are a spokesman of the extreme right, masquerading.
Shavit: Gideon, You want a secular, democratic state. You’re worse than the extremists among the Palestinians.
Levy: Terrific. OK. Perfect. Anti-Semite.
Shavit: And this is a kind of anti-Semitism, an unwillingness to recognize the right of the Jewish people to self-determination.
Levy: [Just] say Nazi.
Shavit: No, this is an extreme anti-Israeli approach that you spread like poison around the world. And then you call it demagoguery. This is demagoguery of the worst kind, your demagoguery.
Levy: I’m a little tired of Ari Shavit. Who tries to have it all. It is . . . I want to refresh people’s memory, once and for all. We came to a country inhabited by another people.
Margalit: Oh, delegitimizing of Israel. We understand.
Shavit: Then let’s leave. That’s why you’re not worried about Iran, because you agree with Ahmedinejad. You think we should go back to Austria. That’s what you’re saying.
Levy: [Just say] Adolf Hitler.
Shavit: When you talk like this, when you don’t recognize the right of the Jewish people, when you don’t want a national home for the Jewish people, you are a partner of the enemies of Israel [also “the Jewish people” - trans.].

Professors, We Need You! By Nicholas Kristof.

Professors, We Need You! By Nicholas Kristof. New York Times, February 15, 2014.

Look Who Nick Kristof’s Saving Now. By Corey Robin., February 16, 2014.


SOME of the smartest thinkers on problems at home and around the world are university professors, but most of them just don’t matter in today’s great debates.
The most stinging dismissal of a point is to say: “That’s academic.” In other words, to be a scholar is, often, to be irrelevant.
One reason is the anti-intellectualism in American life, the kind that led Rick Santorum to scold President Obama as “a snob” for wanting more kids to go to college, or that led congressional Republicans to denounce spending on social science research. Yet it’s not just that America has marginalized some of its sharpest minds. They have also marginalized themselves.
“All the disciplines have become more and more specialized and more and more quantitative, making them less and less accessible to the general public,” notes Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton and now the president of the New America Foundation.
There are plenty of exceptions, of course, including in economics, history and some sciences, in professional schools like law and business, and, above all, in schools of public policy; for that matter, we have a law professor in the White House. But, over all, there are, I think, fewer public intellectuals on American university campuses today than a generation ago.
A basic challenge is that Ph.D. programs have fostered a culture that glorifies arcane unintelligibility while disdaining impact and audience. This culture of exclusivity is then transmitted to the next generation through the publish-or-perish tenure process. Rebels are too often crushed or driven away.
“Many academics frown on public pontificating as a frivolous distraction from real research,” said Will McCants, a Middle East specialist at the Brookings Institution. “This attitude affects tenure decisions. If the sine qua non for academic success is peer-reviewed publications, then academics who ‘waste their time’ writing for the masses will be penalized.”
The latest attempt by academia to wall itself off from the world came when the executive council of the prestigious International Studies Association proposed that its publication editors be barred from having personal blogs. The association might as well scream: We want our scholars to be less influential!
A related problem is that academics seeking tenure must encode their insights into turgid prose. As a double protection against public consumption, this gobbledygook is then sometimes hidden in obscure journals — or published by university presses whose reputations for soporifics keep readers at a distance.
Jill Lepore, a Harvard historian who writes for The New Yorker and is an exception to everything said here, noted the result: “a great, heaping mountain of exquisite knowledge surrounded by a vast moat of dreadful prose.”
As experiments, scholars have periodically submitted meaningless gibberish to scholarly journals — only to have the nonsense respectfully published.
My onetime love, political science, is a particular offender and seems to be trying, in terms of practical impact, to commit suicide.
“Political science Ph.D.’s often aren’t prepared to do real-world analysis,” says Ian Bremmer, a Stanford political science Ph.D. who runs the Eurasia Group, a consulting firm. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, one-fifth of articles in The American Political Science Review focused on policy prescriptions; at last count, the share was down to 0.3 percent.
Universities have retreated from area studies, so we have specialists in international theory who know little that is practical about the world. After the Arab Spring, a study by the Stimson Center looked back at whether various sectors had foreseen the possibility of upheavals. It found that scholars were among the most oblivious — partly because they relied upon quantitative models or theoretical constructs that had been useless in predicting unrest.
Many academic disciplines also reduce their influence by neglecting political diversity. Sociology, for example, should be central to so many national issues, but it is so dominated by the left that it is instinctively dismissed by the right.
In contrast, economics is a rare academic field with a significant Republican presence, and that helps tether economic debates to real-world debates. That may be one reason, along with empiricism and rigor, why economists (including my colleague in columny, Paul Krugman) shape debates on issues from health care to education.
Professors today have a growing number of tools available to educate the public, from online courses to blogs to social media. Yet academics have been slow to cast pearls through Twitter and Facebook. Likewise, it was TED Talks by nonscholars that made lectures fun to watch (but I owe a shout-out to the Teaching Company’s lectures, which have enlivened our family’s car rides).
I write this in sorrow, for I considered an academic career and deeply admire the wisdom found on university campuses. So, professors, don’t cloister yourselves like medieval monks — we need you!