Saul Bellow’s Politics

Reviewing a recently published collection of essays titled A Political Companion to Saul Bellow, Martin Rubin examines the great writer’s politics:

Bellow, who was born in 1915 and died just short of his 90th birthday in 2005, followed a political trajectory typical of intellectuals—and particularly Jewish ones—of his generation. Starting out as a Trotskyite in the 1930s, he went through predictable adherence to New Deal liberal values and their afterglow, before ending up as a neoconservative in all but name. And in that last clause, “aye, there’s the rub.”

Unlike Edward Shils, his friend and colleague at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, Bellow was shy about identifying himself overtly with the political right. In this he was more like his other friend and colleague Allan Bloom. . . . While Bloom was too genuinely subtle in his politics and general thinking to embrace wholeheartedly any single label, Bellow’s similar skittishness additionally owed quite a bit to his ambition. To put it crudely, he knew that the prevailing intellectual establishment in this country and much of the rest of the West was too doggedly liberal to shower honors on someone who swam against the tide. . . .

Yet where it counted, he wore his political as well as his private heart on his sleeve. To his credit as a consummate artist, his fiction is generally unvarnished in its expression of his true political stance. As far back as his magnum opus, Herzog, 40 years before his death, you see his respect for normative values and the bourgeoisie revealing itself between the cracks. A dozen years later in Mr. Sammler’s Planet you see him unmistakably as neoconservative before [the movement’s] heyday. . . .

Adam Bellow, [the novelist’s second son], . . . stressed certain enduring lodestars in his father’s life, like his commitment to Israel and the influence of the conservative thinker Leo Strauss, with whom “he shared a certain sense of detachment from American society, but also a great sense of gratitude and appreciation for it.”

Read more at Washington Times

More about: Allan Bloom, American Jewish literature, Arts & Culture, Neoconservatism, Saul Bellow

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