MINELRES: Book announcement: The Struggle for Soviet Jewry in American Politics

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed Feb 2 22:21:43 2005

Original sender: Ivana Djuric <djuriciva@hotmail.com>

A New Title from Lexington Books

Israel versus the American Jewish Establishment

By Fred A. Lazin
"Future researchers of the Soviet Jewry movement in America are given
much to build on in this exquisitely researched study that touches all
bases of this complex subject. Researchers in this area cannot afford to
ignore this work."
Henry Feingold, Baruch College, The City University of New York

"This thoughtful, deeply-researched book about the politics that
affected the destination of Soviet Jewish ÈmigrÈs powerfully illuminates
key issues characterizing the relationship between governments,
organizations, and communities in Israel and the United States. Written
by an accomplished scholar at home in both countries, it makes important
contributions to our understanding, among other subjects, of
immigration, ethnicity, advocacy groups, ideological conflict, and
political entrepreneurship."
Ira Katznelson, Columbia University

"This important study focuses on the American Jewish community and the
ways it tried to influence U.S. policy on Soviet Jewry, often in
conflict with the views of the government of Israel. It makes a
significant contribution to understanding the influence of organized
groups generally, and provides particularly fascinating material for
those interested in the complexities of Jewish politics and communal
life in the United States."
Joel D. Aberbach, University of California, Los Angeles

"Fred Lazin's book covers one of the great humanitarian campaigns of our
time. But even beyond the struggle over the fate of Soviet Jewry, it
provides wonderful insight into the ways in which humanitarian impulse,
public policy, and civic society come together in America. Lazin has
provided a valuable account of how the system can work when there is
sufficient good will and dedication to do the right thing."
Princeton N. Lyman, Council on Foreign Relations

Until 1989 most Soviet Jews wanting to immigrate to the United States
left on visas for Israel via Vienna. In Vienna, with the assistance of
American aid organizations, thousands of Soviet Jews transferred to Rome
and applied for refugee entry into the United States. The Struggle for
Soviet Jewry in American Politics examines the conflict between the
Israeli government and the organized American Jewish community over the
final destination of Soviet Jewish ÈmigrÈs between 1967 and 1989. A
generation after the Holocaust, a battle surrounded the thousands of
Soviet Jewish ÈmigrÈs fleeing persecution by choosing to resettle in the
United States instead of Israel. Exploring the changing ethnic identity
and politics of the United States, Fred A. Lazin engages history,
ethical dilemma, and diplomacy to uncover the events surrounding this
conflict. This book is essential reading for students and scholars of
public policy, immigration studies, and Jewish history.

Fred A. Lazin is the Lynn and Lloyd Hurst Family Professor of Local
Government at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel.

2005    382 pages    ISBN 0-7391-0842-5    Cloth $90.00

Order online for a 15% Discount

The Struggle for Soviet Jewry in American Politics: Israel versus the 
American Jewish Establishment

Paul Rich, University of the Americas-Puebla and
Hoover Institution, Stanford University

This major and uncommonly interesting book  by Professor Fred Lazin is a
permanent reference based on  a vast array of documents and sources
about one of the great and somewhat underreported movements of people in
the later part of the twentieth century, the immigration of Jews from
the Soviet Union to Israel and the United States.  Importantly, it is
also about American politics, Jewish pressure groups, friction between
Israel and Jews in the diaspora, and (inevitably) the continuing crisis
in the Middle East. Professor Lazin is unusually successful in trying to
treat the parties involved with fairness, which is not an easy task. All
concerned will probably criticize him for his unflattering objectivity.

Reading the volume will not create optimists about the Middle East,
because it begs the question of how the situation in Israel is ever
going to be straightened out while its leaders must deal not only with
Palestinians but also with an amazing variety of American Jewish
lobbies. While it would be consoling if the changes following on the
death of Yassir Arafat promised some sort of settlement of the Middle
East, examining Professor Lazin's work will convince one that there are
far more interests that must be satisfied than in most international
situations.  It is rather like a tennis match with a dozen players on
each side of the court.

That of course is not the only or main wisdom to be gained from the
following pages. Since many Arab leaders are convinced of hidden
conspiracies, surely this involved story of the American and Israeli
disputes and debates should be convincing evidence that whatever else,
policy in democratic states is made an arena where parties vie in
embarrassingly open contention and public disagreement.

While it is true that Professor Lazin is discussing the not always very
helpful posture of Americans and Israelis towards Soviet Jewish
immigration, he is also discussing how actual policy is made, which is
not in the classroom or by theorists.  His book is thus a doubly welcome
addition to the Policy Studies organization series with Lexington Press,
because he is discussing how politics actually work in democratic
societies.  They can be messy, involved, angry, bitter, and not always
played according to Marquis of Queensberry rules.

What we have here then is a well crafted book that can and should be
read on several levels - certainly as a much needed resource regarding
immigration, surely as a study of power and pressure in American and
Israeli politics, but also, I think, as a clear example of just how
policy wars in democratic cultures are never tidy, pristine, or for the
meek.  The reader with the insights that the volume provides will have
to decide who emerges as principled and high minded, and may instead
conclude that practicality rather than nobility was a prevailing virtue.

rich@udlap.mx -  rich@hoover.stanford.edu  - http://www.paulrich.net
Professor of International Relations, UDLA-Puebla.  Visiting Fellow,
Hoover Institution, Stanford. President, Policy Studies Organization
(ipsonet.org).  Past President, Phi Beta Delta (phibetadelta.org).
Fellow, Potomac Institute.  Chancellor, Phi Sigma Omega.