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Jews and Conservatism:
Great Thinkers and Debates

Modern American conservatism was born in the aftermath of World War II, shaped by belief in limited government, free market economics, traditional values, and a strong stance against Soviet Communism. At the time, the overwhelming majority of American Jews supported the Democratic Party and President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal liberalism,” and a substantial minority of American Jews advocated for a more radical turn to the Left. But beginning in the 1950s, a small but influential group of American Jews began to think in a new way. They argued that conservatism was good for the Jews and that Jewish ideas could strengthen American conservatism. Their ideas fundamentally reshaped the conservative movement and the policies of Republican administrations from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush. This course will examine the ideas and spirit of the new Jewish conservatives—including Leo Strauss, Frank Meyer, Nathan Glazer, Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, Ruth Wisse, and others. How did these Jewish thinkers help shape modern America, and are their conservative ideas still relevant today? 

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