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.”

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Washington Times

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

 

The Palestinian Authority Is Part of the Problem, Not the Solution

Jan. 31 2023

On Thursday, Palestinian Authority (PA) officials announced that they had ceased all security cooperation with Israel; the next two days saw two deadly terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. But the PA has in the past made numerous threats that it will sever its ties with the Israeli government, and has so far never made good on them. Efraim Inbar poses a different set of questions: does cooperation with Palestinian leaders who actively encourage—and provide financial incentives for—the murder of Jews really help Israel protect its citizens? And might there be a better alternative?

The PA leader Mahmoud Abbas seems unable to rule effectively, i.e., to maintain a modicum of law and order in the territories under his control. He lost Gaza to Hamas in 2007, and we now see the “Lebanonization” of the PA taking place in the West Bank: the emergence of myriad armed groups, with some displaying only limited loyalty to the PA, and others, especially the Islamists, trying to undermine the current regime.

[The PA’s] education system and media continue propagating tremendous hostility toward Jews while blaming Israel for all Palestinian problems. Security cooperation with Israel primarily concerns apprehending armed activists of the Islamist opposition, as the PA often turns a blind eye to terrorist activities against Israel. In short, Abbas and his coterie are part of the problem, not of the solution. Jerusalem should thus think twice about promoting efforts to preserve PA rule and prevent a descent into chaos while rejecting the reoccupation of the West Bank.

Chaos is indeed not a pleasant prospect. Chaos in the territories poses a security problem to Israel, but one that will be mitigated if the various Palestinian militias vying for influence compete with each other. A succession struggle following the death of Abbas could divert attention from fighting hated Israel and prevent coordination in the low-intensity conflict against it. In addition, anarchy in the territories may give Israel a freer hand in dealing with the terrorists.

Furthermore, chaos might ultimately yield positive results. The collapse of the PA will weaken the Palestinian national movement, which heretofore has been a source of endemic violence and is a recipe for regional instability in the future.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror