An English Power Couple Travel to Israel in 1978; the Non-Jewish Half Identifies with the Country’s Security Concerns

In 1978, the British Jewish playwright Harold Pinter and the English Catholic novelist and biographer Antonia Fraser visited Israel. Recently, Fraser discovered and published the diary she kept during their trip. Robert Nason writes in his review:

[For most of his career], the work of Pinter—arguably the 20th century’s most important Jewish dramatist—had not been concerned with politics, much less Israel or Jewish issues. But he grew up in East London during the 1930s and 1940s, when anti-Semites and self-styled British fascists were a constant threat to bookish Jewish youths like Pinter. The experience left an indelible mark on him. He emerged in the late 1950s as part of the great wave of new British playwrights from working-class or Jewish backgrounds. . . . [T]wo years after his bar mitzvah Pinter had shocked his parents by renouncing Judaism. After his success, Pinter dutifully paid to send his deeply Zionist father and mother on trips to Israel twice before visiting the country himself. . . .

Both [Fraser and Pinter] were enchanted by Israel’s people and landscape, though, unsurprisingly, they saw the Holy Land through quintessentially British lenses. The owner of the American Colony Hotel is “a real Graham Greene character,” and a church in the Old City reminds Fraser of Blackfriars at Oxford. While driving to the northern Galilee, she is simultaneously in awe of the country and reminded of her native England. . . . [She] is clearly in a long line of English Christian Zionists and philo-Semites, going back at least to George Eliot. . . .

Before coming to Israel, Fraser reports, Pinter was “obsessed with Menachem Begin” and “read out his speeches from time to time in tones of angry horror.” . . . Yet Fraser remains more sympathetic to the security concerns of Israelis. She has doubts about a Palestine set up so close to “the busy burgeoning Jerusalem” and wonders, “How can anyone expect the Israelis to welcome a state set up by Arafat and his murderous boys here?,” [even] noting that “The world has decided that really unique among states, Israel must be a moral state . . . something no other state is expected to be!”

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Arts & Culture, British Jewry, English literature, George Eliot, Israel & Zionism, Philo-Semitism

 

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security