Yes, It Was a Genocide

I was really troubled when I read on CNN.com yesterday that the White House was lobbying against a House resolution that would label the murders of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey during World War I a “genocide.” Fortunately, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved the resolution anyway.

Anyone who has any doubts about the relevance of the term “genocide” in this case should read Peter Balakian’s Black Dog of Fate, which I remember buying–and devouring–in Iowa City the summer it was published. It’s a powerful, powerful book. And I certainly thought about it yesterday.

TBR: Exit Ghost (and The Ghost Writer)

If you keep up with new books, you’re probably noticing a wave of critical attention being given to Philip Roth’s latest novel, Exit Ghost. I’m just going to point you to one review, by James Wood in this week’s New Yorker. But I will suggest that you spend additional reading time reading (or re-reading, as the case may be), Roth’s The Ghost Writer, which launched the Zuckerman series and, based on the reviews of the new work that I’ve seen thus far, is very much connected with Exit Ghost in a way that I’m not sure the other Zuckerman novels may be. (I admit I haven’t read them all [yet!].)

Hebrew Literature in Translation

A few years ago, when I had the good fortune to discover the works of Israeli writer Orly Castel-Bloom, I had the corresponding luck to find a terrific resource for information on other Israeli authors, too: the “Hebrew Authors” directory on the Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature Web site. Check it out the next time you want to learn more about books originally published in Hebrew (or if you want to start such an exploration). I use it, for example, to check when I’ll be able to locate Castel-Bloom’s new work in translation, as well as to deepen my acquaintance with other authors I come across.

It’s Not "Censorship" If I Choose Not to Listen (Or Don’t Invite You to Visit). I Have Rights, Too!

I don’t even know how to introduce this. I see unfair treatment of Israel in print and online pretty much every day, and while it always saddens, angers, and frustrates me, I can’t possibly chronicle it all. But here you’ll find one recent example. Read the comments carefully, too.

Do read the article–that’s how you’ll understand that while I haven’t yet resolved my opinion about the actual issues initially presented, which in some ways are more complicated than usual (there’s an appearance of punitive action here that makes me especially uneasy), the comments following the piece in particular reveal how easily this kind of situation unravels/degenerates into anti-Israel/anti-Jewish attacks that cannot be ignored.

I’ll add that one commenter’s statement, that a right to speak “does not entail [a] duty to listen, much less [a] duty to provide…a free hall and microphone,” is an eloquent articulation of something I’ve been struggling to voice when I seek to counter the oft-cited cry of “Censorship!” whenever authors of anti-Israel books and essays aren’t welcomed by a particular audience or to a particular location.

And don’t get me started on the many hypocrisies and double standards at play here, too. At least, not in this post. Maybe another time. Because, unfortunately, there will be another time.

Joshua Henkin’s New Novel, Matrimony

The “Mixed Multitudes” blog on MyJewishLearning.com featured an interview earlier this week with Joshua Henkin, author of the new novel, Matrimony, and participant on the panel I recently wrote about for Poets & Writers. MyJewishLearning.com also posted an excerpt from the novel, highlighting the Jewish background of one of the protagonists. Read and enjoy. (And if you still haven’t had enough of Josh, you can read another interview, one yours truly conducted, albeit one that isn’t focused on the specifically Jewish elements of his work.)