In conjunction with the publication of the Journal of Religious Ethics’ special issue on Shaul Magid’s Meir Khanane: The Public Life and Political Thought of an American Jewish Radical, Contending Modernities has partnered with the Kroc Cast Podcast to bring our audience a conversation on Magid’s book that includes leading scholars in Jewish studies and religious studies. Hosted by CM Co-Director and contributor to the special issue, Atalia Omer, this conversation features a wide-ranging discussion of the impact of Kahane’s life and work on political life in the US and Israel/Palestine. The panel includes Susannah Heschel, Robert Orsi, Yaniv Feller, Emily Filler, and Shaul Magid. Among the topics discussed are the challenges the book poses to how we think about the canon of modern Jewish thought, the critique of liberalism that Kahane posed, the continuing impact of Kahane’s thought on Israeli politics, and the way one’s own positionality is likely to impact the way one approaches the book. On the latter point, Omer draws special attention to the lack of surprise at Kahane’s more extremist and racist claims among Palestinians.
As Magid notes in his comments, the book is not a traditional intellectual biography, but is instead a book that uses the figure of Kahane as a lens through which to address what many would prefer to leave unaddressed, namely the racist and nationalist underside of Zionism. Given the European colonial origins of modern Zionism, Magid’s book and this discussion are in keeping with the Contending Modernities’ aim to draw attention to how coloniality and modernity, especially in their religious elements, continue to perpetuate racism, misogyny, and xenophobia today. We hope that after listening to the podcast, readers will take the time to explore each of the contributors’ response to the book in the Journal of Religious Ethics as well as the book itself.