Anthony Trollope’s Jewish Preoccupation

The 19th-century English novelist Anthony Trollope created no small number of Jewish characters, many but not all of them portrayed in an unflattering light. Ann Marlow attributes Trollope’s interest in Jews to his own insecurity as a member of a poor but genteel family who spent much of his life struggling to improve his financial situation:

[T]here is nasty anti-Semitism in Trollope’s depictions of Jews, but there is also identification. . . . In Phineas Redux (1873), the gallant Madame Marie Max Goesler (the widow of a Jew, if not definitely Jewish herself) faces off against the evil Dr. Emilius, saving the politician Phineas Finn from the gallows—and ends by becoming his second wife. One critic, Shirley Letwin, has argued that Madame Goesler is actually the most perfect “gentleman” in Trollope. . . .

[F]or Trollope, the profession of writing novels involved at least one stereotypical Jewish trait. In The Prime Minister, . . . the upright old gentleman Mr. Wharton refuses to allow the marriage of his daughter to the evil Ferdinand Lopez, a Jew. Trollope comments editorially that the world no longer cared whether men had “the fair skin and bold eyes and uncertain words of an English gentleman or the swarthy color and false grimace and glib tongue of some inferior Latin race.” Professionally, Trollope certainly is with the people of the glib tongue, not the stammering gentlefolk. There is perhaps no 19th-century English novelist as “glib” as Trollope. . . .

As [his] autobiography makes clear, the young Trollope had come close to falling off the class ladder. . . . For Trollope, Jews stand outside the inherited social order, creating themselves by their work—much as he did, and as he was half-ashamed, half-proud of doing.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Arts & Culture, Britain, British Jewry, Jews in literature, Literature

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7