Friday, January 25, 2019

Loeffler on Jewish cosmopolitans and human rights

James Loeffler, University of Virginia, has published Rooted Cosmopolitans: Jews and human rights in the twentieth century with Yale University Press. From the publisher: 
The year 2018 marks the seventieth anniversary of two momentous events in twentieth-century history: the birth of the State of Israel and the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Both remain tied together in the ongoing debates about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, global antisemitism, and American foreign policy. Yet the surprising connections between Zionism and the origins of international human rights are completely unknown today. In this riveting account, James Loeffler explores this controversial history through the stories of five remarkable Jewish founders of international human rights, following them from the prewar shtetls of eastern Europe to the postwar United Nations, a journey that includes the Nuremberg and Eichmann trials, the founding of Amnesty International, and the UN resolution of 1975 labeling Zionism as racism. The result is a book that challenges long-held assumptions about the history of human rights and offers a startlingly new perspective on the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Praise for the book: 

“This absorbingly narrated and brilliantly researched masterpiece reshapes Jewish and human rights history alike.”—Samuel Moyn

“James Loeffler’s pathbreaking research reconstructs the forgotten role of Jewish leaders in creating the architecture of human rights. Loeffler offers a nuanced account of the common origin of Zionism and human rights organizations—and of their increasingly tortured relationship. His story is an intellectually arresting but intensely human drama.”—William A. Galston

"Building on a trove of archival material, this extraordinary book challenges orthodoxies both on the right and on the left.  It has the potential to transform popular understandings of this critical period of history and is a must-read for anyone involved in Jewish communal life or human rights work."—Rabbi Jill Jacobs

"Rooted Cosmopolitans is intellectual history at its most admirable. It's daring in its ambitions to rewrite our received narratives about human rights and Zionism. Loeffler presses his arguments with unfamiliar characters and tells their fascinating stories with nuance, humanity, and verve."—Franklin Foer

Further information is available here.