Move over Talmud: there’s a new Jewish commentary in town. This week, the Posen Foundation and Yale University Press announced the publication date for the first in a 10-volume series anthologizing 3,000 years of Jewish culture and civilization.
How will the death of Benzion Netanyahu, the father of Israel’s prime minister who died in Jerusalem on Monday, at 102, affect his powerful son? I don’t have a clue, though some, like Jeffrey Goldberg, have posited that it might—might—make the prime minister a little bit more willing to compromise with Israel's Arab neighbors. Rather than play Nostr
For years, German scholars and the country’s most prominent Jewish organizations have argued that Germany should allow “Mein Kampf” to be published in Germany before the copyright expires, in 2015. It is not illegal to publish the book in Germany, but the state of Bavaria, which holds the copyright, had adamantly refused for decades, saying that the longer the book was out of print, the better.
Gertrude Stein’s collaboration with the fascist Vichy government was never a secret. But, until now, many have simply ignored it; or, to use the critic Frederic Jameson’s phrase, given over to the “innocence of intellectuals.” Stein’s avid support for Petain, the Nazi collaborator who headed the Vichy government, has often been written off as merely the tragic consequence of many a brilliant artists. What mattered was her prose, not her politics.
Over the weekend, you may have caught the engrossing New York Times profile of a New York society don—one Alan Z. Feuer—who had a mysterious past. I didn’t bother reading it when I first picked up my Sunday print copy—it was buried in the paper, in the scrappy Metropolitan section. But then I got one email after another, from family members, friends, recommending it, all with that guilt-inducing epigram: “must read.”
Dave Eggers, the literary wunderkind, almost mustered some courage. This week he refused to go to Germany to accept the prestigious, $50,000 literary award created by Gunter Grass—the Nobel laureate who recently caused on international uproar over his poem chastising Israel for threatening global stability. But Eggers’ seeming act of courage was more apparent than real. Essentially, he declined the award because he didn’t wan
Remember Julian Assange, the guy behind WikiLeaks? Well, he’s back. Despite facing rape charges in his native country of Sweden, he’s started a new internet T.V. show, which Russia Today is hosting online. RT.com, a Kremlin-controlled station, may be a strange choice for Assange’s new show, given his quasi-anarchic ethos, but stranger still is his first interviewee—Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader.
When the Ron Rosenbaum was researching his upcoming biography of Bob Dylan—to be published as part of Yale University Press’s Jewish Lives Series—he came across an obscure quote. In the mid-‘60s Dylan had written an experimental novel almost impossible to read. But being a diligent journalist, Rosenbaum muscled through the novel (“Tarantula”) and found a poem that included these lines: “hitler did not change / history. hitler WAS history.”
That was all he needed to stake a provocative new interpretation of Dylan.
In the warwaging over Gunter Grass—the Nobel Prize winning German author, teenage Nazi soldier, and author of a poem denouncing Israel’s threats on Iran—it’s hard to tell whose national psyche is more scarred. In Germany, where Grass, 84, published the poem, translated into English as “What Must Be Said,” the intellectual landscape has been virtual