What Cynthia Ozick Rejects, and Why She Rejects It

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.”

Read more at New York Times

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

As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas