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Jews, Women, History, Politics

I read the newspaper a lot.  I read blogs, I have a news-journal habit I can’t afford, and I listen to my roommate playing NPR in the morning.  I am into politics.  I am a Jewish feminist who is into politics.  They’re vital.  Molly Ivins used to say that people can’t afford not to be interested in politics—they affect every waking moment of our lives.

I’ll be spending my time on this blog going after political issues and figures large and small, but I wanted to take one post to explain what I see as the intersection of my identities with how I view the political playing field—it’s only fair prep.  My view of the world is governed by two defining ideas, and I’m pretty sure they spring from the same places as the Jewish feminist thing.

1) Historical context.  I am obsessed with historical context. I think it goes to the core of pretty much any political—or for that matter, sociological—phenomenon.  I don’t think a Jew can afford to be devoid of a solid understanding of historical context—it’s better than psychiatry for helping you crack the code of why people do like they do.  Jews, particularly, are a people with a long collective memory, and I’ve whetted my historical teeth on the ideas in this extended history.

2) A global context for local action—and for global action as well.  Going well beyond the dictum that all politics are local, this is something I think feminists were quick to grasp onto, owing probably to the fairly universal phenomena of patriarchy and misogyny.  Things going on in one part of the world generally have repercussions in other parts—more now, in our hyper-interactive world.  Think Turkey’s current struggle in balancing Islamism and democracy—much more complicated than it sounds, actually—isn’t going to affect Israel’s regional relations?  Try again.  I want to understand the global ripples for each individual drop into the pond.

These two things deal, temporally and spatially, with the interconnectedness of everything.  Such is the governing concept of how I deal with the politics, and you’ll be able to see how those two things emerge for me in looking at the everyday goings on wheelin-n-dealin’ machinations of political machines of all sizes.

—Mel Weiss