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 Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude
Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:
These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.
In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.