What Cynthia Ozick Rejects, and Why She Rejects It

June 27 2016

In a profile of the novelist, critic, and essayist Cynthia Ozick, who has just published a new volume entitled Critics, Monsters, Fanatics, and Other Literary Essays, Giles Harvey comments on her Jewish commitments:

Jewishness, her work also insists, depends upon the principle of havdalah, or distinction-making. Jew and Gentile, God and man, or . . . God and idol: these are categories that should not be muddled. The same goes for literature, and for the judgment of literature. According to Ozick, literature is different from all other human activities, and its singularity consists in its recognizing and honoring human difference. Its purpose, she has said, is “to light up the least grain of being, to show how it is concretely individual, particularized from any other.”

Ozick the channeler of the literary past may seem remote from our present literary debates, dominated as they are by issues of representation, but her work offers a liberating model of engagement with identity. Her commitment to Judaism sharpens her powers of discrimination and inoculates her against the dubious allure of the universal. In a marvelously indignant essay on Anne Frank, she protests the diarist’s assimilation by mainstream culture, the way in which she has been “infantilized, Americanized, homogenized, sentimentalized; falsified, kitschified and, in fact, blatantly and arrogantly denied.” Sapped of quiddity, she has become “an all-American girl.”

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Read more at New York Times

More about: Anne Frank, Arts & Cultural, Cynthia Ozick, Literary criticism, Literature

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela