In a Debut Novel Set in Israel, the Personal and the Political Intertwine

Jessamyn Hope’s Safekeeping tells the story of a young man who, trying to escape his troubled life, sets off to live at a kibbutz once inhabited by his grandfather. Writes Liel Leibovitz:

Suicide bombings and peace talks, socialism and its decline, pogroms and the Holocaust—all vibrate beneath the surface, violent reminders of just how fragile and fleeting our time on the planet truly is. People perish, sometimes by their own design, sometimes at the hands of others; the only thing that is indestructible is [an heirloom brooch bequeathed to the main character by his grandfather], an elegant stand-in for all of Jewish history, beautiful and built to last even when the humans who pin it to their chests are not.

Not that the humans aren’t trying. Even in their darkest moments, Hope’s characters still appeal to higher powers, begging for the strength to persevere. Some look to politics, some to family lore, some to dogma. But Judaism being a religion of a thousand stubborn inquiries, a faith shaped by skeptics, the men and women of Hope’s kibbutz all discover that their convictions can only take them so far, and that none, even the steeliest, can survive the jolt we get when we finally overcome our most selfish urges and open up to others. In a climate like ours, with communal conversations too often governed by the censorious and the shrill, we’ll take all the empathy and warmth we can get.

Read more at Tablet

More about: American Jewish literature, Arts & Culture, Israel, Jewish literature, Kibbutz movement

 

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy