Jewish Political Intrigue
Item #: S420
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Since medieval times, Jewish politicians, forced to choose between God and king, usually served their own political expedience. Noted Jewish historian Berel Wein takes you through 500 years of Diaspora intrigue in Spain, France, England, and the United States. Learn what became of Jewish politicians, what the Gentile world thought of them, and how they impacted the Jewish community - then and now.
Spain - Four Jews rose to high places in Spanish political history: Chisdai ibn Shaprut and Shmuel Ha Nagid in Moslem Spain and Don Isaac Abarbanel and Abraham Senor under the Christian rule of Ferdinand and Isabella. Rabbi Wein follows the careers and accomplishments of each, their attempts to use their influence to benefit and protect the Jewish people, and their personal struggles with the tests of wealth and power.
France - France may have been the birthplace of Ashkenazic Jewry, but it has been one of the worst centers of assimilation in Jewish history. Rabbi Wein focuses on the career of one Jewish Frenchman, Leon Blum, who served as Prime Minister concomitantly with the rise of Hitler. Despite his position, he suffered the fate of the Jews and was interred in a concentration camp. Yet he miraculously survived and went on to resume office though as a changed man. His life story and the subsequent relations between France and Israel make for a picture of extremes in diplomatic history.
England - If there is a word that characterizes Britain's relationship with the Jewish people, it is "contradictory." Disraeli, a born Jew who lived as an Anglican, was able to rise to a high position but was nonetheless scorned by his colleagues in the House of Commons. The British Mandate over Palestine seemed to favor the Jews and the Arabs by turns. And though Britain ultimately fought the Nazis, its initial policy toward Hitler was one of appeasement. Rabbi Wein examines each of these periods of history in depth and describes the paradoxical position of Anglo-Jewry.
United States - The familiar lessons of American history come to life as Rabbi Wein discusses notable American Jews and their influence on politics. Some advanced Jewish causes and will be sung as heroes in Jewish history, while others refused to help their brethren so that they might appear "unbiased." But for good and for ill, every case makes for a spell-binding story in its own right.