The (Implicitly) Jewish Character Who Serves as the Moral Anchor in “The Women”

Sept. 22 2022

A sensation when it was first staged in 1936, Clare Boothe Luce’s play The Women was made into a highly successful film of the same name three years later. Its portrayal of a well-to-do-woman facing an unfaithful husband on the one hand and a circle of ungenerous and backstabbing friends on the other provides a fairly dim view of the female condition. In his analysis, Michael Weingrad points to a character who stands out from the rest:

The film offers somewhat more possibility for constructive female cooperation than does the play, and the one character who seems to support other women as women and without much in the way of ulterior motive is Miriam [Aarons]. This is interesting since the character’s name indicates that she is the one Jewish character in the film.

Luce had a long history of close and complicated relationships with Jews. Her mother Ann’s longest and most serious romance with any man was with Joel Jacobs, a wealthy Keystone Tires executive. . . . Luce herself was for many years the mistress of the world-famous Jewish financier Bernard (or “Barney”) Baruch; she always hoped he would leave his wife for her. And one of Luce’s closest female friends was the Jewish writer Laura Z. Hobson, whose bestselling novel about anti-Semitism was made into the Academy Award-winning film Gentleman’s Agreement.

Miriam in both play and film may be the closest thing we have to a good character who is not naïve. She is not one of the upper-class characters; she comes from the world of the theater, introduced in the play as “the musical-comedy star.” She is not a servant, like the maid and cook through whose commentary we learn of Mary’s split with her husband, or a worker like Lucy at the Reno ranch who offers homespun counterpoint to the refined neuroses of her wealthy guests. Yet like these lower-class characters, Miriam is able to offer wisdom that can only come from outside the world of the idle and status-obsessed rich.

Miriam is tough, telling Mary in the film: “I come from a world where a woman’s just gotta come out on top or it’s just too darn bad.” But this other “world” that Miriam comes from—signaling Jewish outsider-ness, theatrical hustle, working-class and immigrant roots—seems to spur her towards a compassion and effectiveness combined in no other character. Miriam gets along with the other society women without becoming one of them, and she is the closest thing to a real friend that Mary, or anyone, has by the end of the film.

Read more at Screen Splits

More about: American Jewry, Film, Theater

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy