Early in the Summer of 1970

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


Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University