Does the Latest Israeli Science Fiction Tell Us Anything about the Israeli Psyche?

April 3 2018

Reviewing several recent works of Israeli science fiction and fantasy—from tales of body-switching to zombies to teen fantasy romance—Michael Weingrad focuses on a biblically informed novel as one of the better specimens:

Dror Bernstein’s novel Teet (“Mud”) retells in detail the story of the prophet Jeremiah. He does so, however, in an unsettling way. The setting is contemporary in that the events take place in a world much like that of today, with smartphones and airplanes, yet different in that prophets are as common as public-relations specialists, and Israel’s neighbors are Babylonians, Assyrians, and pharaonic Egyptians. . . . [It] may be fairly asked whether this absurdist novel, despite a few fantastic elements such as a talking dog, is what we conventionally recognize as science fiction. In that the story and actors are biblical yet the technology and mentality modern, we might call Teet a science-fiction novel for Iron Age readers. . . .

What is ultimately most striking about Teet’s take on Jeremiah, and where it falls entirely on the side of the modern, is the near-total absence of any experience of the divine. Prophets in this novel are poets, inspired less by the word of God than by the possibility of a good review.

Weingrad concludes with some general comments on the genre:

As an American reader, one is tempted to mine these novels for insight into the Israeli national psyche. Common themes exist among some if not all of these books: the fluidity of identity in our social-media worlds, the nature of Israeli identity more specifically and whether it is something to be sought in the ancient past or the far future, escape from the body whether by technology or death, the power of imagination, and, of course, private detectives. Yet what we see here is mostly a varied and steady stream of speculation and play, and this is not a bad thing. Not every work of Israeli fantasy has to deal with specifically Israeli issues.

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Arts & Culture, Israeli literature, Jeremiah, Science fiction

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy