The Jewish Writer Who Made a Name for Himself in Both Yiddish and Hebrew

While most of the great figures of East European Jewish literature of the last century wrote primarily in either Hebrew or Yiddish, or else in one of many Gentile languages, the poet and novelist Zalman Shneour (1887–1959) was a master of both tongues. He was also a disciple of the great Hebrew poet Ḥayyim Naḥman Bilaik and a close friend of the Zionist leader Vladimir Jabotinsky. The Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin was among his many admirers. Reviewing a recent study of Shneour’s work, Mikhail Krutikov writes:

Between the two world wars, Shneour was . . . unusually prolific: his works include two five-volume novels, Ignoramuses, Emperor and Rebbe, and a number of smaller, yet also significant works. The two most famous are the story collections Jews of Shklov and Uncle Zhome, both of which can be read as novels. In the years since his death, however, Shneour has been all but forgotten.

[Early in his career, Shneour] earned a reputation as Bialik’s successor in the field of Hebrew verse. A significant conceptual and aesthetic turn in his work occurred during World War I. Shneour spent those years in Berlin, where the Germans detained him as a Russian citizen. There he wrote his famous Hebrew epic, Vilna, a sort of poetic reconstruction of bygone Jewish life that had already begun to vanish in the . . . war.

Shneour had abandoned [his native town of] Shklov (in modern-day Belarus) when he was thirteen or fourteen years old, when he went off in search of the wider world. He had lived in Odessa, Vilna, Warsaw; later he studied in Switzerland, France, and Germany, and had visited the United States. He took refuge from the Holocaust in New York, and towards the end of his life, settled in Israel. In contrast to . . . other American Yiddish writers, [many of whom were socialists], Shneour never visited the Soviet Union. According to [some scholars], the reason for this was political, although it’s unclear whether Shneour was [overtly] involved in anti-Soviet activities while he was living in Paris in the 1920s and 30s.

Read more at Forward

More about: Hayyim Nahman Bialik, Hebrew literature, Jewish literature, Soviet Union, Vladimir Jabotinsky, Yiddish literature

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy