Words of the Week: Matti Friedman

After a night of tension and aerial booms here in Jerusalem—including family time spent in the safe room as the air-raid siren blared in the street and the Iron Dome worked overhead—the direct consequences of the unprecedented Iranian attack on Israel aren’t clear yet. But like a flash going off in a dark room, the attack has finally given the world something valuable: a glimpse of the real war in the Middle East. 


Jewish Literary Links

an open book (with Hebrew pages visible); subtitle reads "Jewish Literary Links"
Image by Yedidia Klein from Pixabay

Toward the end of each week, the My Machberet blog presents a collection of links, drawn primarily from the world of Jewish books and writing.

  • Jewish writers need some help—and Michelle Cameron has crowd-sourced some suggestions regarding how to provide it.
  • Although it’s geared toward school settings, Liza Wiemer’s expert tips on “how to handle antisemitic incidents” apply to other settings—including literary ones.
  • If I were a member of the UK-based Society of Authors, I’d surely follow the administration’s recommendations to vote against Resolution #3 at this upcoming meeting. And if I hadn’t let my dues lapse at AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs), I’d sign on to this effort from Yetzirah: A Hearth for Jewish Poetry to create “a new caucus for Jewish writers at AWP. After what was for many a challenging experience at AWP’s annual conference in Kansas City, providing a space in which Jewish writers of all genres can come together and be in community at future conferences, as well as share suggestions and concerns with the AWP leadership, feels especially vital. We need signatures to show support for this proposal (you don’t need to be Jewish, of course, just a member of AWP) and I’m hoping you might consider signing. And please feel free to share and help get the word out! ” (Quoted with permission from a post by Yetzirah’s founder/president/executive director Jessica Jacobs in a private Facebook group.)
  • In a similar vein (encompassed within: the aforementioned AWP conference), Maxim Shrayer surveys “Poetry After October 7th.”
  • And icymi: You’ll find some explicitly “Jewish” opportunities in the latest issue of The Practicing Writer 2.0, including upcoming deadlines for the Natan Notable Books program (April 26) and the Rabbi Sacks Book Prize (May 1).

Reminder: 181 days later, I continue to update the “After October 7: Readings, Recordings, and More” document-in-progress. Check also cautionary information (also in-progress), compiled under the title “Writers, Beware.”

Shabbat shalom.

Words of the Week: Benny Morris

“To many on the left, Mr. Morris says, ‘I seem to have turned anti-Palestinian in the year 2000,’ when Prime Minister Ehud Barak and President Bill Clinton offered a two-state solution and Yasser Arafat rejected it. ‘I thought this was a terrible decision by the Palestinians, and I wrote that.’ When the Palestinians, in response to the offer of peace and statehood, then launched a wave of terrorism and suicide bombings unlike any before it, Mr. Morris disapproved of that, too. ‘I began to write journalism against the Palestinians, their decisions and policies,’ he says, ‘and this was considered treachery.’

Mr. Morris was suddenly out of step ‘because people always forgive the Palestinians, who don’t take responsibility,’ he says. ‘It’s accepted that they are the victim and therefore can do whatever they like.’ Mr. Morris doesn’t contest the claim of victimhood but sees it on both sides. ‘Righteous Victims’ is the title of his 1999 history of the conflict.

Source: Benny Morris, quoted in Elliot Kaufman, “History Goes to War in the Holy Land” (Wall Street Journal).