The Herd of Independent Minds

What does it mean to be “pro-Israel” on campus today? A new novel tells the tale.

A graduation procession at the University of Toronto. © Sampete | Dreamstime.com.

A graduation procession at the University of Toronto. © Sampete | Dreamstime.com.

Observation
Nov. 5 2014
About the author

Ruth R. Wisse is a research professor at Harvard and a distinguished senior fellow at the Tikvah Fund. Her most recent book is No Joke: Making Jewish Humor (2013, paperback 2015).


At a Jewish literary retreat I attended this past summer, at the height of the Gaza war, fault lines opened between those anxiously following news from Israel and others apparently indifferent or professing concern for the “suffering on both sides.” Asked to report on our current writing projects, one of the Israelis in the group admitted to being distracted by worry; he had not been able to write since the crisis began. But others balked at the intrusion of political concerns into a discussion about literature. Were writers obliged to shoulder public responsibilities, or did they serve society best by resisting political engagement?

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More about: Anti-Zionism, Book review, Canadian Jewry, Fiction, Israel on campus