Jorge Luis Borges: A Lover of Jews, Judaism, and Israel

June 16, 2015 | Shalom Goldman
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The Argentinian author, a lifelong admirer of Jews and Judaism, drew on a variety of Jewish ideas in his work. He was also deeply supportive of the Jewish state. Shalom Goldman writes:

For Borges, “the Bible was one of the first things I read or heard about. And the Bible is a Jewish book” and the root of all that is valuable in Western culture. This attitude was the legacy of his greatest childhood influences—his father and his maternal grandmother. With the rise of fascism in Europe and Argentina, the Bible assumed even greater importance in his mind. The Bible stood for morality, justice, and the prophetic voice. Fascism, with its hostility toward the religion and the people of the Bible, was the enemy of culture and personal morality. . . .

[W]hen Borges visited Jerusalem in 1969, he had behind him a half-century of engagement with Jewish themes. He was enthusiastic about the state of Israel, but the Judaism that interested him was the culture of the Diaspora. For Borges, the Jew in European culture was an intellectual; he was multilingual; he was an outsider and a persistent critical voice. But despite his initial ambivalence about Zionism, Borges supported the Israeli cause, especially when international opinion began to turn against Israel in the late 1960s.

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