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September 01, 1989 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-09-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Now Anti-Semitic
Was T.S. Eliot?



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32

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 1989

Special to The Jewish News

I

n the New York Times,
book critic Michiko Kaku
tani urges "a reappraisal
of the relationship between
[artists'] beliefs and their art
— and perhaps, too, a rethink-
ing of our expectations of the
role we want art to play in our
lives!'
Kakutani's advice came at
the end of a column devoted
mostly to the the many ex-
cuses for the anti-Semitism of
poet T.S. Eliot offered by
historians and critics. These
have included:
• Eliot's anti-Semitism was
separate from his art. This
view, states Kakutani, ig-
nores the fact that "Eliot's
prejudices were intimately
related to his conservative
worldview, his espousal of
Christian Orthodoxy, and the
idea of a community held
together by religious
discipline!'
• Anti-Semitism
was
prevalent in the 1920s, when
some of Eliot's more anti-
Semitic work was published.
But Kakutani counters that
this interpretation does not

Kakutani notes that
Christopher Ricks, the author
of the forthcoming book T.S.
Eliot and Prejudice, writes
that the poet had "queasy,
resentful feelings about
Jews," which he transcended
in his later years.
"This impulse to see an ar-
tist in his maturity transcen-
ding the limitations or pre-
judices of his youth is com-
pelling," concedes Kakutani.
"We would like to believe that
age — especially in the case of
an artistic genius — confers
wisdom, acceptance, grace."
But the tendency of some
critics to equate art. with
morality and "to connect
beauty with truth, talent
with - vision appears to
underlie many of the
arguments advanced . . . in
behalf of Eliot . . . . The idea
that great artists might hold
morally repugnant views .. .
is not a congenial proposi-
tion?'
"comes to terms with the fact
that it was just such attitudes
that contributed to Hitler's
rise to power," nor does it ex-
plain Eliot's silence after
revelations about the
Holocaust.

"New Republic" Scolds
Tom Friedman

As Tom Friedman's book,
From Beirut to Jerusalem, is
finding itself a comfortable
spot on the best-seller lists, its
author has been taken to task
by the editor-in-chief of The
New Republic, Martin Peretz.

TRENDS

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Shatzs

ARTHUR J. MAGIDA

In a review of Friedman's
book, Peretz charges that the
New York Times correspon-
dent has mistaken a few
similarities between Israel
and its Arab neighbors for
"essence," is "dead to a good
deal of Israeli life," suffers

from "idealistic goofiness,"
and never should have been a
reporter in the Middle East
because of his obsession with
Zionism since the age of 15.
But Friedman's Zionism,
says Peretz, "didn't prevent
him from : . . [bending] over
backward to be fair to the
PLO . . . Nor did his Zionism
prevent him from giving the
Israeli side. What cannot be
denied, though, is that he
deals with his own people .. .
far more harshly than he does
with their enemies."

Are Israel's
Spies Mediocre?

Israel's intelligence system
may be grossly inferior to its
glowing reputation, according
to a Washington Post article
written by Israeli journalist
David Halevy - and
Georgetown University
teacher Neil Livingstone.
Israel's recent kidnapping
of Hezbollah leader Sheik Ab-
dul Karim Obeid, reflects its
tendency to use its "superb
armed forces" to militarily
solve its problems "without
developing adequate in-

telligence analysis of the
potential political conse-
quences."
The Obeid kidnapping,
claim Halevy and Liv-
ingstone, may have stemmed
from "some serious problems
within Israel's intelligence
community and its relation-
ship with the Israeli cabinet?'
Chief among these problems
is that for more than a decade,
Israel's key intelligence arm,
the Mossad, "has been under-
mined by internal bickering

41

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