Boris Pasternak, the CIA, and the War of Ideas

Boris Pasternak’s epic masterpiece Dr. Zhivago is above all else a political novel, designed as an attack on Soviet totalitarianism and meant to show the horror of what he called the “inhuman reign of the lie.” A recent book tells the story of how the Kremlin tried to suppress the novel, of Pasternak’s courage in the face of official intimidation, and of the role played by the CIA in getting the book published and distributed in Western Europe. When Pasternak won the Nobel Prize in 1958, the Soviet Union struck back, including by using anti-Semitism as a weapon. Algis Valiunas writes:

Straightaway [after the prize was announced] the Literaturnaya Gazeta ran a novella-length editorial of florid scurrility, headlined “A Provocative Sortie of International Reaction.” The op-ed included the entire rejection letter sent to Pasternak in 1956 that certified the official worthlessness and downright malignancy of the work and its author. The gazette had a circulation of almost 900,000 readers, and this issue sold out in a few hours. The epithet of choice for Pasternak in the Soviet press and in the mouths of the faithful soon became “Judas,” for while propagating belief in Christ might be anti-Soviet slander, everyone understood how aptly the biblical allusion fit the arch-betrayer of the Socialist Motherland, especially when the offender was [of Jewish origin].

Read more at Commentary

More about: Boris Pasternak, CIA, Cold War, Literature, Soviet Jewry, War of Ideas

Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation