The Sewing Poet Who Thought He Could Break through the Limits of Mortality

While the Yiddish writer and World War II partisan Avraham Sutzkever (1913-2010) is known primarily as poet, he also wrote numerous stories in prose. One such work—translated into English by Zackary Sholem Berger under the title “A Black Angel with a Pin in His Hand”—describes a fellow poet Sutzkever knew in Vilnius before the Holocaust. It begins thus:

His whole life he had been called Moyshe-Itzke, a familiar name, like you’d call a boy. The only people in whose memory he’s still barely alive remember him by that name.

Moyshe-Itzke was born because he wanted to be born. That’s what he told me. He then added confidentially that an entire collection of dark forces didn’t want to let him shine, but his will was stronger. The anointed writer Moyshe-Itzke was born in order to live eternally.

“I’m going to stay the way I am,” he said, assessing me superciliously, with the sort of face that would well up out of a shattered mirror. “Death isn’t relevant to me; we belong to two different worlds. It’s a pity that you won’t be walking these streets in a thousand years. You’d recognize me in throngs of people. I won’t change. Like a rock doesn’t change.”

He burst into hysterics, laughter like a dispersed mold, and kept going on like one possessed. “You say a rock can be overgrown with moss? Yes, my great soul will be overgrown with a beard. And you say that sparks sleep in the rock? They sing in my veins! The storm that can extinguish my sparks has not yet been born.”

Read more at Tablet

More about: Holocaust, Jewish literature, Vilna, Yiddish literature

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict