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I have read with dismay Jessa Crispin’s interview with Shlomo Sand, the anti-Jewish Jew (he renounced his religion in his book How I Stopped Being a Jew) and the anti-Israel Israeli (as he details in this interview). The animus he bears toward Judaism and Israel vies with that of non-Jewish anti-Semites who seek to deny Israel as a homeland for the Jews. Although Crispin did not intend it this way, the “fever” and “fractured sense of self” she speaks of in her introduction accurately capture the conundrum of Shlomo Sand. Sand’s own roots (renounced or not) do not give him license to make blanket generalizations, outright false accusations, and other specious arguments. I appreciate the opportunity to respond to this piece. More… “On the Question of Shlomo Sand”

Lynn Levin teaches at Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania. Her published works include four collections of poems, the latest of which is Miss Plastique (Ragged Sky Press, 2013). She is co-author of the craft of poetry book, Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets (Texture Press, 2013) and the translator, from the Spanish, of Birds on the Kiswar Tree (2Leaf Press, 2014), a collection of poems by the Peruvian poet Odi Gonzales.
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In his book Varieties of Religious Experience, William James wrote about the power the irrational holds over the rational:

If you have intuitions at all, they come from a deeper level of your nature than the loquacious level which rationalism inhabits. Your whole subconscious life, your impulses, your faiths, your needs, your divinations, have prepared the premises, of which your consciousness now feels the weight of the result; and something in you absolutely knows that that result must be truer than any logic-chopping rationalistic talk, however clever, that may contradict it.

So what do you do as a rational, intellectual person who is fighting a group that is in the grips of their intuition? How do you combat the power that holds? It doesn’t make sense to right the irrational with the rational. You can explain to, say, a Trump supporter very coolly that his economic policy would have disastrous ramifications, or that his foreign policy approach could very well lead us into decades of conflict, but if he’s caught up in a nationalistic fever, especially one that is being used to shore up a fractured sense of self, you will only antagonize and never sway. More… “The Shlomo Sand (Inter)view”

Jessa Crispin is editor and founder of Bookslut.com. She currently resides in Chicago.
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