Robert Siegel Reviews Deborah Lipstadt’s new book, Antisemitism, and Mark Weitzmann’s Hate: The Rising Tide
of Anti-Semitism in France.
The great French film director Jean-Luc Godard called Ben Hecht a “genius” who “invented 80 percent of what is used in Hollywood today.” Yet most modern American Jews have likely never heard of Hecht, despite his eminence as a playwright, best-selling novelist and screenwriter of a host of Hollywood film classics.
American Jews may not know their way around the Talmud or much about Jewish history, but they sure do excel at soul-searching and have for many, many years. In the late 19th century, in the mid-20th and again in our own day, taking the community’s pulse—and finding it weak and listless—has been a common pursuit and a constant refrain.
“How do you know who you are, if you don’t understand where you come from?” Nora Krug asks toward the beginning of her stunning visual memoir, Belonging: A German Reckons With History And Home.
Reading Beirut Rules takes us back to the unhappy 1980s when American diplomats, spies, and the military would be assigned to the Middle East—a complex and dangerous region that very few of them understood—and became sitting ducks for increasingly sophisticated terrorists who were financed and directed by Iran.