75 episodes

On the Nose is a biweekly podcast by Jewish Currents, a magazine of the Jewish left founded in 1946. The editorial staff discusses the politics, culture, and questions that animate today’s Jewish left.

On the Nose Jewish Currents

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    • 4.7 • 146 Ratings

On the Nose is a biweekly podcast by Jewish Currents, a magazine of the Jewish left founded in 1946. The editorial staff discusses the politics, culture, and questions that animate today’s Jewish left.

    The End of "Curb Your Enthusiasm"

    The End of "Curb Your Enthusiasm"

    On April 7th, Larry David’s sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm—which debuted in 2000 and ran on and off for 24 years—concluded its twelfth and final season. For many critics, the finale marked not only the completion of a beloved show that sometimes seemed like it would run forever, but also the end of an era of American Jewish comedy, embodied by David and other comics of his generation. Curb follows the everyday antics of a fictionalized version of David, living a posh life in Los Angeles following the success of the iconic ’90s sitcom Seinfeld, which he co-created with Jerry Seinfeld. David’s avatar is an over-the-top archetype of a Brooklyn Jew raised in the mid-century, and the show is animated by the character’s dry affect and hyperbolic intransigence, which often put him at odds with reigning social mores, fueling absurd interactions with strangers, friends, and foes. Over the course of Curb’s long run, it’s had a profound impact on the shape of modern American comedy, while the caricature at its core has emerged as one of the defining representations of American Jewishness.
    On this episode of On the Nose, managing editor Nathan Goldman, executive editor Nora Caplan-Bricker, contributing editor Ari M. Brostoff, and contributing writer Rebecca Pierce discuss Curb’s depictions of Jewishness, Blackness—and, in one famous episode, Palestinianness—and share their thoughts on the show’s final season and David’s comedic legacy.
    Thanks to Jesse Brenneman for producing and to Nathan Salsburg for the use of his song “VIII (All That Were Calculated Have Passed).” 
    Articles, Episodes, and Films Mentioned:
    “The Ski Lift,” Curb Your Enthusiasm
    “The End,” Curb Your Enthusiasm
    “American Jewish Comedy Sings a Swan Song,” P.E. Moskowitz, Vulture
    “Meet the Blacks,” Curb Your Enthusiasm
    A Serious Man, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
    “Atlanta,” Curb Your Enthusiasm
    “The Lawn Jockey,” Curb Your Enthusiasm
    “The N Word,” Curb Your Enthusiasm
    “Palestinian Chicken,” Curb Your Enthusiasm
    “No Lessons Learned,” Curb Your Enthusiasm
    “The Finale,” Seinfeld
    “Jerry Seinfeld Admits He ‘Sometimes’ Regrets the Seinfeld Finale,” Corinna Burford, Vulture

    • 52 min
    On Zionism and Anti-Zionism

    On Zionism and Anti-Zionism

    The recent wave of anti-Zionist Gaza solidarity protest encampments on college campuses has reignited a longstanding public debate over how to define “Zionist.” On May 8th, a week after the Columbia University encampment was dismantled by the NYPD, more than 500 Jewish students at the school who identify as Zionists published an open letter in which they laid out their perspective. “A large and vocal population of the Columbia community does not understand the meaning of Zionism, and consequently does not understand the essence of the Jewish People,” they argued, positing that Zionism and Judaism are fundamentally intertwined. The claims echoed a common mainstream Jewish talking point, that the student movement’s stance against Zionism and its adherents is a de facto rejection of Jews—a discourse that plays out against the backdrop of a yearslong Israel advocacy effort to redefine Zionism not as a political ideology but as a protected ethnic identity under US civil rights law. Yet anti-Zionists, Jewish and otherwise, maintain that their position is simply a rejection of the political structure of Jewish supremacy that undergirds the State of Israel. 
    On this episode, Jewish Currents staff members discuss how they describe their politics in relation to the term “Zionist” and why. They reflect on the comparative advantages and limits of using the labels “anti-Zionist,” “non-Zionist,” and “cultural Zionist” to articulate opposition to a state project of Jewish supremacy and support of Palestinian liberation and right of return, and consider how those identifications impact relationships within the Jewish community and with the broader solidarity movement. 
    Thanks to Jesse Brenneman for producing and to Nathan Salsburg for the use of his song “VIII (All That Were Calculated Have Passed).” 
    BOOKS AND ARTICLES MENTIONED AND FURTHER READING: 
    Excerpt from “Zionism from the Standpoint of Its Victims,” Edward Said 
    2021 Study of Jewish LA 
    “How ‘Zionist’ became a slur on the US left,” Jonathan Guyer, The Guardian
    “A plan to save Israel — by getting rid of Zionism,” Emily Tamkin, The Forward, on Shaul Magid’s new book exploring a “counter-Zionist” future
    Haifa Republic: A Democratic Future for Israel, Omri Boehm
    Address by Max Nordau at the First Zionist Congress, 1897
    “The Suppressed Lineage of American Jewish Dissent on Zionism,” Emma Saltzberg, Jewish Currents, on the historical evolution of the meaning of the term “Zionism”

    • 50 min
    Controversy at the Contemporary Jewish Museum

    Controversy at the Contemporary Jewish Museum

    Last fall, the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco put out an open call for artists to apply for the California Jewish Open. Some of the artists that were accepted into the show identified themselves openly in the application as anti-Zionist, and submitted work that contained content that straightforwardly advocated for Palestinian liberation. 
    But in April, seven of the artists withdrew from the show. A statement released by a group calling themselves California Artists for Palestine cited an “inability to meet artists’ demands, including transparency around funding and a commitment to BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions].” The artists demanded to be able to have final say on wall text about the works, and to be able to pull or alter their works at any time. They were also concerned about potential “curatorial both-sidesism,” referring to an email they received on March 22nd which asked artists to sign off on the fact that their work would be “presented in proximity to artwork(s) by other Jewish artists which may convey views and beliefs that conflict with [their] own.” The museum has decided to leave blank the wall space designated for this work, “to honor the perspective that would have been shared through these works, and to authentically reflect the struggle for dialogue that is illustrated by the artists’ decisions to withdraw.”
    This week, Jewish Currents editor-in-chief Arielle Angel speaks to two anti-Zionist multidisciplinary artists who made divergent decisions about whether to stay in the group show: Amy Trachtenberg, who opted to remain, and Liat Berdugo, who has pulled out. The trio discuss the perils and possibility of Jewish institutional life—in the art world and beyond—at this moment, the applicability of BDS in this case, and the uses and limitations of “dialogue.”
    Thanks to Jesse Brenneman for producing and to Nathan Salsburg for the use of his song “VIII (All That Were Calculated Have Passed).” 
    ARTICLES MENTIONED AND FURTHER READING: 
    “Jewish Anti-Zionist Artists Withdraw From Contemporary Jewish Museum Show,” Matt Stromberg, Hyperallergic
    “Anti-Zionist Jewish artists pull out of CJM exhibit when demands are not met,” Andrew Esensten, J Weekly
    “CJM visitors wonder: Does the Palestinian flag belong on the museum’s walls?,” Andrew Esensten, J Weekly
    Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) guidelines
    “Campus Politics Takes the Stage in The Ally,” On the Nose, Jewish Currents
    Jewish Voice for Peace/IfNotNow Passover Campaign
    “Biting the Hand,” The Editors, e-flux
    “a href="https://www.liatberdugo.com/work/trees" rel="noopener noreferrer"...

    • 33 min
    Chevruta: Understanding Aaron Bushnell’s Sacrifice

    Chevruta: Understanding Aaron Bushnell’s Sacrifice

    Chevruta is a column named for the traditional method of Jewish study, in which a pair of students analyzes a religious text together. In each installment, Jewish Currents will match leftist thinkers and organizers with a rabbi or Torah scholar. The activists will bring an urgent question that arises in their own work; the Torah scholar will lead them in exploring their question through Jewish text. By routing contemporary political questions through traditional religious sources, we aim to address the most urgent ethical and spiritual problems confronting the left. Each column will include a column, podcast, and study guide.
    On February 25th, Aaron Bushnell, an active-duty member of the US Air Force, self-immolated outside the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC. “I will no longer be complicit in genocide,” Bushnell said in a livestreamed video, broadcasting what he declared an “an extreme act of protest”—though, he added, “compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers, it’s not extreme at all.” Bushnell, who was dressed in his army uniform, then doused himself in gasoline and set himself on fire, shouting “Free Palestine” until he collapsed. He died later that day. While some were quick to dismiss Bushnell’s action as a manifestation of mental illness, many on the left expressed admiration for his sacrifice—which, as intended, drew global attention to US complicity in Israel’s brutal, ongoing assault on Gaza.
    In this chevruta, Rabbi Lexi Botzum and Jewish Currents editor-in-chief Arielle Angel engage with Jewish texts that examine the concepts of martyrdom, sacrifice, and public spectacle, considering how our tradition might help us to engage with Aaron Bushnell’s act, and the question of how much we must sacrifice for justice.
    You can find the column based on this conversation and a study guide here. 
    Thanks to Jesse Brenneman for producing and to Nathan Salsburg for the use of his song “VIII (All That Were Calculated Have Passed).” 
    Articles Mentioned:
    All Jewish sources are cited in the study guide, linked above
    “Aaron Bushnell’s Act of Political Despair,” Masha Gessen, The New Yorker
    “The Work of the Witness,” Sarah Aziza, Jewish Currents
    “The Nature of Mass Demonstrations,” John Berger, International Socialism
    “Burnt Offerings,” Erik Baker, n+1

    • 38 min
    Jewish Organizing at Columbia’s Encampment

    Jewish Organizing at Columbia’s Encampment

    Last week, the NYPD—called in by Columbia University president Minouche Shafik—arrested 108 Columbia and Barnard students, who had set up a Gaza solidarity encampment on a lawn in the center of campus. The group of students was subsequently suspended, and those at Barnard were evicted from campus housing. Over the following days, others reestablished the encampment—continuing the call for the university to disclose their investments and divest from Israeli companies, to boycott Israeli academic institutions, and to keep cops off campus, among other demands.
    In the week since the encampment was established—as the tactic spreads to campuses around the country—the movement has been maligned as a threat to Jewish students, and lawmakers like Sens. Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley as well as Jewish communal leaders like Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt have called for bringing in the National Guard. Jewish Currents editor-in-chief Arielle Angel spoke to three Jewish student organizers arrested at the original encampments—Izzy Lapidus, Sarah Borus, and Lea Salim—about their experiences over the past week and what Palestine solidarity organizing has looked like on their campuses since October 7th.
    Thanks to Jesse Brenneman for producing and to Nathan Salsburg for the use of his song “VIII (All That Were Calculated Have Passed).” 
    Further Reading:
    "Evidence of torture as nearly 400 bodies found in Gaza mass graves," Al Jazeera
    “Statement on Columbia’s Gaza Solidarity Protest Community Values,” Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD)
    “Republican Senators Demand Biden Use National Guard to Suppress Columbia Protests,” Nikki McCann Ramirez, Rolling Stone
    Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL calling for NYPD and the National Guard to be brought onto campus on X
    Passover seder at the Columbia encampment
    "NYPD Investigating 'Skunk' Chemical Attack at Columbia U," Johanna Alonso, Inside Higher Ed
    “Republicans Wanted a Crackdown on Israel’s Critics. Columbia Obliged,” Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times

    • 41 min
    Unpacking the Campus Antisemitism Narrative

    Unpacking the Campus Antisemitism Narrative

    In recent months, a buzzy new pair of articles on the specter of rising “Israel-related” antisemitism have arrived in The Atlantic. One, by Franklin Foer, heralds the end of the “golden age of American Jews,” while another, by Theo Baker, details the current climate on Stanford’s campus. Though similar stories have circulated in Jewish communal outlets for years, these two longform pieces demonstrate how the subject has also taken center-stage in liberal media since October 7th, against a backdrop of increased scrutiny on college campuses. The media handwringing has been accompanied by political and legal crackdowns: The ADL and the Brandeis Center have filed a lawsuit against Ohio State, the House Committee on Education has launched an investigation into Columbia, and Harvard President Claudine Gay and University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill have both been pushed out of their positions due to their handling of tensions around campus antisemitism. But is this really all about antisemitism? What do these narratives leave out of frame?
    In this episode, Jewish Currents editor-in-chief Arielle Angel, editor-at-large Peter Beinart, associate editor Mari Cohen, and publisher Daniel May dissect the common features of these campus antisemitism narratives—and consider what ends they serve. They discuss the difference between antisemitism and political ostracism, the need for more accurate reporting on campus dynamics, the confluence between the anti-antisemitism and the anti-DEI crusade, and the ways that the campus antisemitism panic can result in crackdowns on—rather than protection of—liberal freedoms.
    Thanks to Jesse Brenneman for producing and to Nathan Salsburg for the use of his song “VIII (All That Were Calculated Have Passed).” 
    Articles Mentioned and Further Reading:
    “The Golden Age of American Jews Is Ending,” Franklin Foer, The Atlantic
    “The War at Stanford,” Theo Baker, The Atlantic
    “The New Antisemitism,” Noah Feldman, Time Magazine
    “‘Pro-Israel’ Pundits Don’t Talk About Israel,” Peter Beinart, Jewish Currents
    “Toward a Sober Assessment of Campus Antisemitism,” Ben Lorber, Jewish Currents
    “Homeland Violence and Diaspora Insecurity: An Analysis of Israel and American Jewry,” Ayal Feinberg, Politics and Religion (and similar studies from Belgium and a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01639625.2021.1968283" rel="noopener noreferrer"...

    • 42 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
146 Ratings

146 Ratings

Turtle26mr ,

Intelligent, nuanced and thoughtful

This is a wonderful podcast. I’ve listened to the Naomi Klein interview on her book Doppelgänger and learned new things each time.

Bean Apple ,

Best Left Jewish news and analysis

As a leftist Jew alienated from a lot of Jewish life, Jewish Currents and this podcast are a lifeline. Moreover, I think they do an amazing job framing their stories and analysis in a way that is accessible to non-Jews just trying to understand current issues surrounding American Jewry, Israel, and Palestine. Much love!

hazbarels ,

Much needed intelligent POV

Smart thoughtful discussions that give a hopeful and realistic frame to the dark issues of our time

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