The Happy Philo-Semitic Gentile and the Angry, Uncomfortable, and Anti-Israel Jew

Reflecting on the proximity between the deaths of two towering figures in, respectively, literature and the arts, Howard Jacobson sees a certain symmetry between the philo-Semitic Gentile and the uncomfortable Jew:

On November 24, 2019, Clive James, the Australian writer, critic, poet, and novelist, died aged eighty. Three days later, Sir Jonathan Miller, theater and opera director, doctor, comedian, sculptor, and much else besides, died aged eighty-five. To my generation this was like an evisceration of our culture in a single week. . . . Both were inexhaustibly curious and lavishly talented. Both were accused of spreading those talents too thinly. One seemed to possess the gift of happiness, one didn’t. One was a friend of the Jews, one wasn’t. Miller was Jewish—ish being the operative word. “I’m not really a Jew; just Jew-ish,” he famously declared in the 1960s revue, Beyond the Fringe. James wasn’t. James was the one who liked Jews.

I am not about to argue that Miller would have been happy had he made peace with his Jewishness. Being a Jew isn’t a panacea for anything. But his vexed relations with his Jewishness strike me as of a kind with the discordancy of his emotions in general. He seemed unable to like anything unreservedly or to connect the pieces of his own nature, especially, by his own admission, the Jewish pieces. “Although my family were Jewish and I am genetically Jewish, I have absolutely no subscription to the creed, and no interest in the race,” he told Dick Cavett in 1980.

Israel displeased [Miller] in the usual, unthinking ways. [James, by contrast], was a staunch supporter of Israel and saw through the fashionable denunciations of Zionism made by people “dedicated to knowing as little as possible about the history of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

Read more at Tablet

More about: Howard Jacobson, Philo-Semitism

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy