The Tikvah Podcast
About This Show
The Tikvah Fund is a philanthropic foundation and ideas institution committed to supporting the intellectual, religious, and political leaders of the Jewish people and the Jewish State. Tikvah runs and invests in a wide range of initiatives in Israel, the United States, and around the world, including educational programs, publications, and fellowships. We invite you to explore some of these initiatives through the links on this page.
Our animating mission and guiding spirit is to advance Jewish excellence and Jewish flourishing in the modern age. Tikvah is politically Zionist, economically free-market oriented, culturally traditional, and theologically open-minded. Yet in all issues and subjects, we welcome vigorous debate and big arguments. Our institutes, programs, and publications all reflect this spirit of bringing forward the serious alternatives for what the Jewish future should look like, and bringing Jewish thinking and leaders into conversation with Western political, moral, and economic thought.
Most Recent Episode
Ruth Wisse on the Perversity of Brilliance
7 days ago
“Murderers with the power to murder descended upon a defenseless people and murdered a large part of it. What else is there to say?” So wrote Norman Podhoretz in his scathing 1963 essay on Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Arendt, a German Jewish refugee and the world’s foremost theorist of totalitarianism, had travelled to Israel to witness the historic trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. But rather than writing a fair-minded report on the Jewish people’s first opportunity in millennia to try one of their oppressors, Arendt used the occasion to offer her own theory of Eichmann’s character, Jewish complicity in their own slaughter, and what she called the “banality of evil.” Arendt’s coverage of the trial sent shockwaves through the coterie of New York Jewish intellectuals of which she had been an admired member. Writing in Commentary magazine, Podhoretz showed himself to be among her harshest critics. His essay is a clarion call for moral clarity that seeks to expose how Arendt’s brilliance distorts her ability to see Nazis for what they were and evil for what it is. In this podcast, Tikvah Distinguished Senior Fellow Ruth Wisse joins Eric Cohen to discuss Eichmann’s trial, Arendt’s theory of it, and Podhoretz’s piercing critique. They discuss what motivated Arendt to write as she did and analyze why this moment proved to be so momentous in the intellectual evolution of many so American Jewish thinkers. Wisse and Cohen show that while the Eichmann trial may be behind us, the perversity of brilliance against which Podhoretz inveighed is still very much alive today. Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as Ich Grolle Nicht, by Ron Meixsell and Wahneta Meixsell.