Absolutely sparkling essay by @b_judah on something I've thought about so much while reading modern Jewish American fiction. Ben puts it into words so perfectly: American Jewish writers are bored by their lives and experiences unherd.com/2021/06/how-am…
I'll add one thought to @b_judah's phenomenal piece, which is that the obsession with Israel by the *characters* in these books takes the form of pilgrimage and redemption. Israel is the escape, Israel is the answer. And yet, this is from Zionism-agnostics in many cases!
For example: Nathan Englander's protagonist in KADDISH DOT COM. Both protagonists follow that route in Nicole Krauss's FOREST DARK, leaving their very successful emptiness for Israel. Same with Cherise Wolas's THE FAMILY TABOR (a better version of Krauss's book). plus--
arguably same for Bethany Ball's WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE SOLOMONS, and definitely the same for Jonathan Safran Foer's book HERE I AM, which was terrible but makes this point about soggy American Jews' (often secular) admiration for Israel, for which they hate themselves even more.
There's also a bit of mussar in this. Is this why I'm so obsessed with uncovering every detail about the Jewish Legion, in which my great-grandfather served alongside the great dramatic characters of Jewish history that Ben refers to--Ben-Gurion, Jabotinsky, Ben Tzvi, Margolin?
The personal connection I feel to that story is stronger than anything else the American Jewish experience can offer, though it is an American Jewish story: my ggf's door that Ben-Gurion knocked on was in Ohio, not Palestine or the Pale.
And yet it's also a good example of the way all roads lead to Zion. It's an American Jewish story in the service of the longer story of the unfading hope. It all comes back to a David Bezmozgis quote, which I think also attests to the issue @b_judah is addressing:
“The Jewish future is to be found in Israel. The Jewish past in Europe. Where in this equation is North America? Neither the future nor the past. Which begs the question: What kind of literature can be made of a place that, for Jews, represents neither the future nor the past?”

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More from @SethAMandel

13 Jun
Israel's first Orthodox prime minister and (I believe) first Islamist minister will be sworn in today.
Correction: he's not a minister. His significance to the coalition is just hard to put a title on.
Read 5 tweets
11 Jun
I'm usually against reboots but this one looks intriguing ImageImage
Bibi's Bunch. All the former Bibi aides have grown up and are on their own. Looking forward to the episode where they all come home to the Netanyahus for seder. Image
In episode 3 Bibi and Mansour Abbas find out they're related.
Read 5 tweets
11 Jun
Gonna take this opportunity to briefly explain that the Squad's coordinated talking point--talk to us privately not publicly--is disingenuous and false. Ron notes the hypocrisy of Cori Bush but it's been true of Omar as well, and it's important
Omar's antisemitic tweet about Israeli hypnosis was in 2012. As her local political career took off, Jewish community members tried talking to her about this stuff. She ignored (obviously) and then eventually won her Congress seat in 2018.
She defended both the tweet and BDS, and then after joining Congress arranged a trip to Israel and the territories with a group that had spread the famous blood libel and republished a white supremacist screed against Jews. Here's where things got rocky.
Read 13 tweets
9 Jun
are we witnessing the formation of the very first Democratic spine? Historic moment.
The question at hand is: Is there one single person in the Democratic Party who supports Jews' right to live in safety more than he or she fears a mean tweet from AOC.
btw the fact that they're even discussing it like this is yet more proof that the official position of the leadership is on AOC and Omar and Tlaib's side, as it has long been. This is the official party position, and there are a few dissenters who are scared to even go public.
Read 9 tweets
2 Jun
Been watching the first season of Startup on netflix and holy cow Martin Freeman is a phenomenal actor.
Edi Gathegi is really great too.
I feel like you maybe don't quite understand the purpose of subtitles? Image
Read 4 tweets
1 Jun
History in the making. Likely means a chunk of the interior ministry, yes? The news on coexistence is not all bad!
Jabotinsky said of a future Israel: if the prime minister is Jewish his deputy PM should be Arab, and vice versa. This is the closest the political system has come so far to Jabo's vision of coalitional coexistence.
Virtually everything that's happening in world affairs relates to some or other of Jabotinsky's writing, and I hope some of this results in a revival of the work of one of the 20th century's most important political thinkers and literary translators.
Read 4 tweets

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