In This Review

The Star and the Stripes: A History of the Foreign Policies of American Jews
The Star and the Stripes: A History of the Foreign Policies of American Jews
By Michael N. Barnett
Princeton University Press, 2016, 368 pp

Barnett’s useful, original book puts contemporary American Jewish attitudes toward foreign policy in historical context. Going back to the nineteenth century, The Star and the Stripes notes a continuing oscillation in the American Jewish community, between prioritizing the problems of Jews around the world and pushing for the alleviation of suffering and persecution more generally. Barnett identifies a time of “peak communalism” after the 1967 Six-Day War, which led to an upsurge in Jewish pride and identification with Israel. The communal era continued through the 1970s, encouraged by the plight of Soviet Jews desperate to emigrate. But since 1980, Barnett finds, growing qualms about Israeli policies have led many American Jews to step away from the communal agenda. This, he notes, has led some American Jewish philanthropists to support Palestinian rights groups: by 2005, “American Jewish organizations ranked among the top donors to Palestinian organizations, providing anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of their total grants.” One wishes Barnett had cast his net a little wider: as Henry Kissinger and many others would remind him, humanitarianism is not synonymous with foreign policy for American Jews any more than for anyone else.