A Hebrew Novel of Jewish Alexandria, Now in English

Yitzḥak Gormezano Goren published his novel Alexandrian Summer in 1978, but it has only lately been translated into English. André Aciman reviews the novel, which is based on the author’s own childhood:

The military coup that was to overthrow King Farouk in 1952 and, with his ouster, eventually dissolve all remnants of multi-national life in Egypt, can only confirm the [narrator’s family’s] sense that life as they’d known it in Alexandria was fast coming to an end. Surging anti-Western and anti-Semitic rhetoric on the streets and in radio broadcasts had turned Egypt into a tinderbox that was to explode with the Suez Canal war of 1956, a war that proved disastrous to Egypt’s European community. French and British nationals were instantly expelled, their exodus immediately followed by the expulsion of the majority of Egypt’s 85,000 Jews, most of whose ancestors had been living along the Nile and its Delta for more than a millennium and long before the advent of Islam.

Alexandrian Summer is a nostalgic, farewell portrait of a world that was fast expiring but still refused to see that history had written it off. . . . This, after all, was a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-sexual, multi-everything society where Coptic, Jew, Muslim, Catholic, and Greek Orthodox lived tolerably well together and where multilingualism was the order of the day. Everyone was part Levantine, part European, part Egyptian, and one-hundred-percent hodgepodge, just as everyone’s sentences were spiced with words and expressions lifted from French, Italian, Arabic, Ladino, Turkish, Greek, English, and whatever else came by. Tart-to-toxic bons mots in a mix of six to eight languages could singe you just enough to shake you up but without causing any damage. Similarly, the mix of populations was never perfect, and cultures and creeds jostled one another without scruple. There again, the tussling was amicable enough and never deadly. But no one was fooled for long.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Arab anti-Semitism, Arts & Culture, Egypt, Ladino, Mizrahi Jewry, Suez Crisis

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin