H. G. Adler’s Novel of Life after Auschwitz

Dec. 12 2014

H. G. Adler is best known (to the extent that he is known at all) for his sociological studies of the Holocaust. But he also wrote a series of novels based on his own experiences at Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, and his life after the war. The last of these, The Wall, recently made available in English, deals with the burdens of survival. Adam Kirsch writes:

Of all the different genres of Holocaust literature, the survivor’s story is perhaps the most challenging. It is the story of an aftermath, of a life lived in the shadow of events that are so terrible they can never achieve the banality of “closure.” And it is precisely this unresolved quality, this sense that a survivor’s life has broken away from all recognized narrative patterns, that gives The Wall its uneasy power. Its protagonist, Arthur Landau, is given to saying that he does not exist, and the whole book is like a document of what it feels like to live without existing: “I realize I don’t belong to human society. . . . I am not part of any continuum that allows those who are self-evident—so they maintain, at least—to discover something in common or at least assume it.”

Read more at Tablet

More about: Auschwitz, Holocaust fiction, Holocaust survivors, Jewish literature, Theresienstadt


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