two four accounts of the conference on 'Jews and the Left' that took place in New York City earlier this month.
The first is by Eitan Kensky: 'Questioners challenged the speakers' views from both the left and the right, with the audience cheering their rebuttals. The widely divergent attitudes were inseparable from personal and family histories, and audience members repeatedly drew on their autobiographies to explain their political positions.'
The second is by Cathy Young: 'Whither Jews and the left, then? Most conference speakers still strongly identified with left-wing politics. Keynote speaker Michael Walzer, co-editor of Dissent magazine, asserted that such leftist ideals as an expansive welfare state and social justice for downtrodden groups have strong roots in the Jewish experience.'
The third is by Adam Kirsch: 'While a number of speakers at the YIVO conference invoked Isaac Deutscher's concept of the "non-Jewish Jew" - figures like Trotsky or Rosa Luxemburg, who rejected on principle any definition of themselves or their goals in Jewish terms - both [Michael] Walzer and Ezra Mendelsohn warned against the idea that identity could be so abstract and universalized.'
The fourth is by Rick Richman: 'For one who heard the two days of presentations at YIVO... what was most striking was not the old ideals of the utopian left, or Michael Walzer's eloquent call for a leftist engagement with Jewish tradition in the future, but the ugly picture of "actually existing" leftism now.'
(I've posted the paper I presented at the conference here.)