In Committing “Heresy,” a Collection of New Hebrew Writing Plays Dumb

July 30 2015

In a recent issue, the magazine World Literature Today featured translations of fourteen pieces of new Hebrew writing. Introducing the collection, the guest editors explain their decision to avoid Israel’s grand political questions and instead to commit the “heresy of normalcy.” For Erika Dreifus, there’s something decidedly “un-heretical” about the entire collection:

Among the prose selections . . . I found that two pieces did, in fact, deal substantively with the matzav [i.e., Israel’s political and security situation]. And I couldn’t help concluding that they were utterly un-heretical in ways that I’m not sure the guest editors fully anticipated. . . .

If you perhaps thought it problematic that the only part of Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land most (non-synagogue/JCC members) would be likely to read was the guilt-infused “Lydda” chapter that ran in the New Yorker, and if you happened to read and find resonance in Matti Friedman’s recent Mosaic article on “Israel and the Moral Striptease,” you may also struggle with Tomer Gardi’s “Rock, Paper.” Suffice it to say that it’s not exactly a tribute to the Jewish state. Another powerful piece, Ayman Sikseck’s “To Jaffa,” depicts the anxiety of living with the anticipation of a Palestinian terror attack; the narrator, however, is an Arab Israeli, not a Jew.

Now, I’m not that naive. I hardly expect to find outright sympathy for, say, the residents of Sderot or the families of [the terror victims] Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach, let alone any remote appreciation for anything about the Jewish state, in the pages of a literary magazine published by an American university. . . .

But if they were, in fact, going to include writing about war and terrorism in their feature after all, would it have been so very difficult to include something to counterbalance Gardi’s “self-flagellation” (to borrow Friedman’s term)? Or to acknowledge that Palestinian terrorists are typically aiming to kill Jews? For that matter, wouldn’t it have been possible, perhaps, to contextualize the references to Jewish emigration from Arab countries between 1948 and the early 1970s, as alluded to in [two of the] pieces? The dismal truth is that for too many readers in the United States today—including, I’m sorry to say, many ostensibly well-educated readers among the American literati—that would be the most heretical reading of all.

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Read more at Erika Dreifus

More about: Ari Shavit, Arts & Culture, Hebrew literature, Israel & Zionism, Israeli literature

 

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy