Will T.S. Eliot’s Anti-Semitism Diminish His Aura?

June 10 2022

Reviewing the newly released second volume of a biography of T.S. Eliot, Philip Hensher finds himself asking if the dean of modernist poetry really deserved the prominence that he attained in his own lifetime, and has held onto after his death. One of the “cracks” that Hensher finds appearing in Eliot’s “once unassailable reputation” involves his anti-Semitism, which showed up occasionally in his verse.

In [the poet’s] lifetime, challenges were made to some directly anti-Semitic lines in the poetry (“The rats are underneath the piles/ The Jew is underneath the lot”) and the essays: “Reasons of race and religion combine to make any large number of free-thinking Jews undesirable [in society].” Private statements that have since emerged are worse still: “Why is there something diabolic about so many Jews?” “There are enough Jews in the English universities as it is.”

Many similar statements can be found in other writers, but what puts Eliot on another level was his continuing to make them and, even in the face of the Third Reich, commending an article talking of “so-called anti-Semitism,” or expressing a concern about the arrival of refugees: “Jews in the mass are antipathetic.” When one refugee child was adopted by a friend, Eliot was happy to note that “it” was “not at all objectionably Jewish to look at.”

His was the worst kind of anti-Semitism, being elevated to an idiotic sort of principle. Of the Holocaust he suavely observed: “To suggest that the Jewish problem may be simplified because so many will have been killed off is trifling: a few generations of security, and they will be as numerous as ever.” His own view of this was clear: his writing would only seem “anti-Semitic” to “the Semite.”

I don’t see how this horrible accumulation of evidence can do anything but close the long debate. We can accept the mastery of the poetry and the immense good that it and Eliot himself did in the world, but the ugly stain is not going to go away. Wagner, who took care to exclude explicit anti-Semitic statements from his artistic productions, has survived. Eliot, who did not, may in time be downgraded.

Read more at Spectator

More about: Anti-Semitism, Poetry, T.S. Eliot


Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy