In a 1971 essay titled “Innovation and Redemption,” the writer and critic Cynthia Ozick attacked literary works that, however notable for their formal experimentation, lack any sort of moral core. Contrasting such literature to rabbinic midrash, Ozick argues that the latter always contains a moral message but, for its part, lacks literature’s imaginative power. Ruth Wisse discusses the essay and puts it in the context of Ozick’s own perception of herself as a Jewish writer. (Interview by Eric Cohen. Audio, 51 minutes.)
Must Literature be Moral? Must Jewish Literature?
Hamas and Fatah Compete by Shedding Jewish Blood
During the past four weeks, there has been a rash of violent attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank. These are not a response to any Israeli actions, nor are they spontaneous outbursts. Rather, as Itamar Marcus and Maurice Hirsch explain, the violence is the result of deliberate incitement by the Palestinian Authority (PA), which began when its president, Mahmoud Abbas, realized he was unlikely to win the upcoming national elections. The violence, write Marcus and Hirsch, was originally a way to win votes, and is now a way to maintain popularity after Abbas’s decision to postpone the elections in definitely: