Although he never wrote in English, Isaac Bashevis Singer, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1978, is one of the most familiar names in modern American fiction. His work, written in Yiddish and dealing with explicitly Jewish motifs and subject matter, strikes universal chords with readers who turn to him for unforgettable insights into the harshness and humor of life, the bitterness and the consolations of love, faith, and history. COMMENTARY published some of the earliest of Singer’s work to appear in English. This weekend we offer a selection of stories and a memorable interview with him conducted by Joel Blocker and Richard Elman.
Three Stories for Children
An Interview with Singer
Taibeleh and Hurmizah
Yentl the Yeshiva Boy
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ)—Britain’s main professional association of journalists and reporters—recently joined an international boycott of Israeli goods.
In the UK, such boycotts have become something of a spring ritual, akin to elaborate animal-mating dances. Much has been said about the questionable motives behind these campaigns and their obsessive targeting of Israel. No other government—no matter how grievous a violator of human rights—is, apparently, worthy of such treatment.
Following the President’s veto of the Iraq spending bill, Democrats have dropped their demands for pullout timetables. They are talking instead about imposing “benchmarks” to force the Iraqi government to pass an oil-sharing law, disarm sectarian militias, hold provincial elections, and take other important steps. The main dispute now centers on whether these benchmarks will be nonbinding or whether they will be tied to mandatory penalties, such as the cut-off of some U.S. funds.
That’s progress, I suppose. But the Democrats are undermining the prospects of achieving the reforms they claim to want by their insistent calls to start withdrawing U.S. troops ASAP.
Put yourself into the mind of a Kurdish, Sunni, or Shiite politician in Baghdad, and ask yourself this question: Would you be more willing to compromise if you think U.S. troops are in Iraq for the long term, or if you think they’re about to leave?
Hmmm. Let’s see. If the U.S. troops leave now, an all-out civil war is likely to erupt. It will be every man for himself. The nascent Iraqi Security Forces will probably splinter along sectarian lines, leaving Iraqis of all stripes to seek safety from extremist militias. It would be the Lebanese civil war on steroids.