Early in the Summer of 1970

June 15 2022

A.B. Yehoshua, widely regarded as one of the leading Hebrew authors of his generation, died yesterday at the age of eighty-five. A fifth-generation Jerusalemite, and the grandson and great-grandson of Sephardi rabbis, Yehoshua wrote eleven novels as well as numerous essays, plays, and short stories. His novella “Early in the Summer of 1970” appeared in English translation in Commentary magazine in 1973. Told in Yehoshua’s characteristic dreamlike style, it has as its narrator and protagonist an aging Bible teacher, whose son returns to Israel—along with his American wife and child—during the War of Attrition, after several years of living outside of the country.

My son fell asleep at once, enfolding his sleeping son, but my daughter-in-law was surprisingly wakeful. She did not look at the road or at this land she had never seen before, or at the stars or the new sky. Instead, her whole body turned toward me, sitting in the back; her hair tumbling over my face, she fired questions at me, asking about the war: what do people here say, and what do they really want, as though accusing me of something, as though in some furtive way I enjoyed this war, as though there existed some other possibility.

That, or at least something like it, for I had great difficulty understanding her, I who never learned English, but picked up what I knew from the air—literally from the air, from English lessons wafting in from adjacent classrooms while the hush of an examination lay on my own, or while pacing empty corridors waiting my turn to enter the classroom.

And I strained to understand her, exhausted as I was from the long night’s vigil. My son sleeping on the front seat, a heavy mass, his head nodding, and I alone with her, observing the delicate features, the thin eyeglasses she had suddenly donned, such an intellectual, maybe this New Left thing, and for all that a trace of perfume, a faint scent of wilted flowers coming off her.

In the end I opened my mouth to answer. In an impossible English, an astounding mixture which I myself concocted, laced with Hebrew, obeying no rules, and she momentarily taken aback, trying to understand, falling silent at last. Then, softly, she began to sing.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Hebrew literature, Israeli literature, War of Attrition

Strengthening the Abraham Accords at Sea

In an age of jet planes, high-speed trains, electric cars, and instant communication, it’s easy to forget that maritime trade is, according to Yuval Eylon, more important than ever. As a result, maritime security is also more important than ever. Eylon examines the threats, and opportunities, these realities present to Israel:

Freedom of navigation in the Middle East is challenged by Iran and its proxies, which operate in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf, and recently in the Mediterranean Sea as well. . . . A bill submitted to the U.S. Congress calls for the formulation of a naval strategy that includes an alliance to combat naval terrorism in the Middle East. This proposal suggests the formation of a regional alliance in the Middle East in which the member states will support the realization of U.S. interests—even while the United States focuses its attention on other regions of the world, mainly the Far East.

Israel could play a significant role in the execution of this strategy. The Abraham Accords, along with the transition of U.S.-Israeli military cooperation from the European Command (EUCOM) to Central Command (CENTCOM), position Israel to be a key player in the establishment of a naval alliance, led by the U.S. Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.

Collaborative maritime diplomacy and coalition building will convey a message of unity among the members of the alliance, while strengthening state commitments. The advantage of naval operations is that they enable collaboration without actually threatening the territory of any sovereign state, but rather using international waters, enhancing trust among all members.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Abraham Accords, Iran, Israeli Security, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy