Who Changed F. Scott Fitzgerald's Feelings about the Jews?

The portrait of the Jewish gangster Meyer Wolfsheim in The Great Gatsby, along with other passages and comments in his writings, suggest that F. Scott Fitzgerald was less than well-disposed toward Jews. But in the last year of his life he employed a Jewish secretary—Frances Kroll Ring, who died last month—and was involved with a Jewish woman. Arthur Krystal suggests they might have changed his attitude:

In the summer of 1939 [around the time he hired Ring], Fitzgerald started to work in earnest on his Hollywood novel, the unfinished The Last Tycoon, in which the hero, Monroe Stahr, is based on Irving Thalberg. Although Stahr’s Jewishness is occasionally alluded to, it’s never disparaged. At one point, a director gazes . . . at Stahr and muses, “He had worked with Jews too long to believe legends that they were small with money.” Elsewhere, the narrator describes Stahr enigmatically as “a rationalist who did his own reasoning without benefit of books—and had just managed to climb out of a thousand years of Jewry into the late 18th century.” It’s hard to know what Fitzgerald meant by this. Was Stahr among the few Jews capable of making the transition from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment? In that case, the remark has a distinctly condescending flavor. And why the tail end of the Enlightenment rather than the middle? Every once in a while, you have to wonder if maybe Hemingway was right: Fitzgerald really “couldn’t think.”

That line aside, there’s no trace of anti-Semitism in the novel. Stahr is admirable in almost every respect. . . . It might be that Fitzgerald was now compensating for his distasteful portrayal of Wolfsheim, or maybe he didn’t want to be labeled anti-Semitic in an industry populated by Jews, or maybe he was mindful of what was going on in Europe in 1939. Or just maybe the fact that he spent the greater part of his days and nights with two Jewish women contributed to his portrait of Stahr.

Read more at New Yorker

More about: American Jewish History, Anti-Semitism, Arts & Culture, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jewish gangsters, Literature

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy