A Yiddish Novella of Pre-Statehood Israel

Nov. 20 2014

Avrom Rives left his native Poland for Palestine in the 1920s and made a name for himself as an author of short stories in Yiddish. His 1947 novella Iberflants (“Transplant”) tells the story of a group of young kibbutzniks. An excerpt has recently been translated into English:

Hills and mountains rolling into rough marshy plains unfolded into the distance; behind them, more stretches of land led all the way to the wadi. It was land that rustled with the sounds of galloping wheels and bouncing melodies, sounds that came from the concealed creases and crevices of the barren land.

At the sloping base of the heights, young people hammered stakes and poles into untouched earth that was still covered in wild grasses and peculiar herbs. With every crack of the hammer, grassy roots leaped into the humid air. Men who were hungry after a day’s toil tugged at thick ropes, the palms of their hands splitting and cracking under the strain. They were occupied fastening tarpaulin sheets to tent poles.

“The hammer, Siyomke, pass it over. Can’t you see I’m losing my grip here?”

“That’s how it goes, comrade. Pull on it!”

Kneeling down, young people busied themselves with the poles and the edges of the tarpaulin tents. Struggling against the hostile winds that pulled and slapped hard against the sheets, they tied the stubborn rope to the earth; the wind whistled furiously in protest.

Read more at Pakn Treger

More about: Avrom Rives, Israeli literature, Kibbutz movement, Yiddish


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount