Cynthia Ozick Imagines the Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara through a Relative’s Eyes

In December, when Mosaic asked Cynthia Ozick to recommend some of the books she had recently read, she named, among others, David Kertzer’s The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, which tells the story of a six-year-old Bolognese Jew abducted and forcibly converted by papal authorities in 1858. Now, Ozick, in her most recent work of fiction, imagines seeing Mortara through the eyes of his great-nephew:

If you are unfortunate enough to bear a name trailing a history, as I am, you will understand why I have decided to change mine—though not quite yet. I must live with the original until I have squeezed out of it the last syllable of iniquity. A great sin was committed against this name, the name of an honest and peaceful family, and whether the choice of an American commonplace will serve as anodyne, I can hardly predict. It was in 1940 that my own fraction of these relations arrived here from Bologna to escape the racial laws. My widowed father, Isacco Giacobbe Mortara, had already been expelled from the university, where he taught philosophy. And it was in this same year, 1940, that my great-uncle, Pio Edgardo Mortara, died at age eighty-eight, after living out his last years in a monastery in Belgium. The incident that had made a small boy notorious was by then mainly forgotten, except by a handful of scholars, and was regularly attributed to mediaeval ignominy, as if modernity—railway, telegraph, photography—hadn’t at the time already permeated everywhere.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Cynthia Ozick, Edgardo Mortara, Holocaust, Italian Jewry, Jewish literature

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy