Saul Bellow: “Jewish Writer in America”

While the novelist Saul Bellow once referred to the phrase “Jewish writers in America”—often used to include himself, Bernard Malamud, and Philip Roth—as “a repulsive category,” he remained unwavering in his commitment to the Jewish people. Cynthia Ozick, reviewing a collection of Bellow’s letters, writes about why his work endures, and about his place as a Jewish writer:

[T]here was personal warmth and varying degrees of literary admiration for his confederates in the triumvirate he parodied as “Hart, Schaffner & Marx,” a quip that has survived the decades. What reluctantly united all three—Bellow, Roth, Malamud—was a concept imposed on them by the celebrity-sloganeering of the journalists: “American Jewish writers.” But the link was both superficial and specious: each invented his own mythos and imagined his own republic of letters. It was not the complexity of heritage Bellow was resisting in his tailor-made mockery, but its reduction to a narrowing palliative, nowadays fashionably termed “identity.” . . .

[W]hen, not yet out of their teens, Bellow and Isaac Rosenfeld dissolved the solemn ironies of T.S. Eliot’s “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” into a hilariously lampooning Yiddish ditty, it may have marked the signal moment when writers born Jewish and awakened into America would refuse to be refused by Western history.

Bellow’s capacity for what might (in quick march) be called Jewish intelligence summoned deeps far beyond where the journalists could follow: the literary talent that rose up, in puzzling if impressive flocks, out of what appeared to be a low immigrant culture. Bellow was distinctive in transcending—transgressing against—the archetype of the coarse and unlettered ghetto greenhorn. The greenhorns in their humble trades were aware that they were carriers of a moral civilization. (“You are too intelligent for this,” [the title character of Herzog] protests to his vaporously over-theorizing friend Shapiro. “Your father had rich blood. He peddled apples.”)

Though he had repeatedly declared himself, as an American, free to choose according to will or desire, Bellow also chose not to be disaffected. He was in possession of an inherited literacy that few novelists of Jewish background, writers of or close to his generation, could match, however sophisticated otherwise they might be. His range spanned an inclusive continuum . . . ; Western learning and literature had also to mean Jewish learning and literature. He was at home in biblical Hebrew, was initiated into the liturgy from early childhood, and read and spoke (always with relish) a supple Yiddish.

Read more at Literary Hub

More about: American Jewish literature, Arts & Culture, Cynthia Ozick, Isaac Rosenfled, Saul Bellow, T.S. Eliot


Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security