S.Y. Agnon’s History of His Hometown, Told in Short Stories

July 29 2016

In the posthumously published collection of short stories titled A City and Its Fullness, the Nobel prize-winning Israeli author takes the reader through 300 years of the history of his birthplace, Buczacz. To mark the publication of a partial English-language translation of this work, Ariel Hirschfeld, Alan Mintz, and Jeffrey Saks discuss Agnon’s overall project, his use of the Jewish legal tradition as a source of humor, and some of the individual stories—including one where fish “miraculously” turn into frogs and another where a pious Jew must care for the body of a dead count. The session includes a reflection by the author A.B. Yehoshua, written especially for the occasion, on Agnon’s inventive use of language. (Audio, 76 minutes.)

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Read more at Toby Press

More about: A B Yehoshua, Arts & Culture, East European Jewry, Israeli literature, Modern Hebrew literature, S. Y. Agnon

How the Death of Mahsa Amini Changed Iran—and Its Western Apologists

Sept. 28 2022

On September 16, a twenty-two-year-old named Mahsa Amini was arrested by the Iranian morality police for improperly wearing a hijab. Her death in custody three days later, evidently after being severely beaten, sparked waves of intense protests throughout the country. Since then, the Iranian authorities have killed dozens more in trying to quell the unrest. Nervana Mahmoud comments on how Amini’s death has been felt inside and outside of the Islamic Republic:

[I]n Western countries, the glamorizing of the hijab has been going on for decades. Even Playboy magazine published an article about the first “hijabi” news anchor in American TV history. Meanwhile, questioning the hijab’s authenticity and enforcement has been framed as “Islamophobia.” . . . But the death of Mahsa Amini has changed everything.

Commentators who downplayed the impact of enforced hijab have changed their tune. [Last week], CNN’s Christiane Amanpour declined an interview with the Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, and the Biden administration imposed sanctions on Iran’s notorious morality police and senior officials for the violence carried out against protesters and for the death of Mahsa Amini.

The visual impact of the scenes in Iran has extended to the Arab world too. Arabic media outlets have felt the winds of change. The death of Mahsa Amini and the resulting protests in Iran are now top headlines, with Arab audiences watching daily as Iranian women from all age groups remove their hijabs and challenge the regime policy.

Iranian women are making history. They are teaching the world—including the Muslim world—about the glaring difference between opting to wear the hijab and being forced to wear it, whether by law or due to social pressure and mental bullying. Finally, non-hijabi women are not afraid to defy, proudly, their Islamist oppressors.

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Read more at Nervana

More about: Arab World, Iran, Women in Islam