Sunday, June 20, 2010

Death of an Evil Man

Jose Saramago has died of old age in his bed. The Guardian has two items about his passing, neither of which manage to mention or even allude to the fact that he was an antisemite. The New York Times noted his passing here, and offered an obituary here, noting that he once compared Rammallah to Auschwitz but missing the antisemitism. Ditto the Washington Post. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung, one of Germany's most important papers, titles their piece on his passing "The Moral Attacker", no less, with no mention at all of his antisemitism: you sort of hope Germans will notice that sort of thing.

Yet another case where Jews see one reality, and most non-Jews see an alternate one.

(Updated the final sentence following David Siget's comment)

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

IMO readers of the Süddeutsche Zeitung will praise it for keeping it "cultured"

the only serious paper where I have hope that it may mention the fact is late and reviled by 68ers Axel Springer's Welt, even its sister the tabloid BILD mentions only that he was a communist ...

we are Germans remember, the people of the poets and thinkers (Dichter und Denker) and true to that unshakeable belief/tradition poets, authors, philosophers are untouchables way above the mundane not mere mortals like you or me

Silke

http://www.bild.de/BILD/unterhaltung/kultur/2010/06/18/literatur-nobelpreistraeger-jose-saramago/tot-gestorben-mit-87-auf-lanzarote.html

Anonymous said...

@ Silke

Seems that poets and thinker never returned after world war II.
So there only is left over the "country of"...
Not amusing when I think of Germany's future.
We had 2 evil dictator ships and the communism is going to celebrate a big come back.
So, still no room left for poets and thinker I dare would say.

Strongly agree to your opinion of welt.de about the only serious paper - it's a shame.
Only one - Zeit gone, FAZ gone and the list seems endless.

@ Yaacov

There was a short reflex to object that SZ is one of the most important papers in Germany.
But considering German reactions and lately behaviour.
You're right.
This news paper is a mirror for the major German society.

BR

Carl

eamonnmcdonagh said...

not all the non-Jews
http://bit.ly/abGfY6

Anonymous said...

please take note of this and try to chip away at this German idiot's "poetry"

Silke

http://yaacovlozowick.blogspot.com/2010/06/music-you-can-hear-at-wedding.html?showComment=1277033319319#c3755292136817727680

NormanF said...

People's evil is rarely mentioned. Many on the American Right found time to praise Robert Novak after he died, despite the fact he was he a virulent anti-Semite, Hamas champion and Israel hater. The only one who took a stand in the face of all the nauseating hosannas to him was Debbie Schlussel. We need to remember that some people are so bad, they are unworthy of being remembered for good in this world.

Anonymous said...

Yaacov,

I realize that "Jews see one reality, and everyone else sees an alternate one" is a memorable phrase but, as Eeamonn Mcdonagh exemplifies in his work at the Z-Word blog and Silke in her comments here and elsewhere on the web, there are gentiles who are true champions of Jewish rights and who can spot antisemitism as well as any Jew. Also, of course, some of our worst enemies have been various kinds of renegade Jews.

David E. Sigeti

Anonymous said...

Can anyone provide links to longer discussions of Saramago's antisemitism? The two articles on the Z-Word blog are very brief.

David E. Sigeti

Morey Altman said...

David Frum manages to be intellectually honest: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/06/19/david-frum-death-of-a-jew-hater/

Yaacov said...

David Siget is right. I fixed the text.

Anonymous said...

Morey,

Thanks for the link -- it gives a much fuller picture. I do not know if you read the comments to the article to which you linked. They are educational in a terrifying way -- much of the worst kind of antisemitism short of Nazism.

Yaacov,

Glad you fixed the text. And you did it in a way that did not really diminish the impact of the language. I wish that I could write as well.

David E. Sigeti

Anonymous said...

Obituaries in the London Times are prepared for over the decades by a team I was told in a podcast by them - so no single writer didn't know excuse there
Another proof that when it comes to promote book sales the mercenary mind wins more often than not.

Silke

"Saramago’s ideas, born of a blend of lifelong communist ideology, atheism and indelible humanism, never failed to connect with both critics and readers."

"He never resigned his membership of the Communist Party, and, in 2002, vehemently denounced Israeli incursions into the West Bank. But, as even The Notebook, a book of blog posts he wrote for a year starting on the eve of the 2008 US presidential election, illustrates, José Saramago was, at heart, the most profound, humane and empathetic of writers."

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/obituaries/article2564639.ece

Barry Meislin said...

Which makes sense, of course, if "profound, humane and empathetic" is consistent with hatred of Jews.

As seems to be the case in this benighted era.

To quote a genuinely profound man, "It's deja vu all over again"....

Alas.

Sergio said...

I'm not sure whether Saramago's antisemitism derived from Stalinism or vice-versa. The fact is that he was both a stalinist and a rabid antisemite, while posing as a humanist. In other words, intellectual bankruptcy incarnate.

Good riddance.

PS: one can find his heinous article in El País on the net.

Anonymous said...

Sergio
only to say that I understand the pain

I have never read Saramago but I cared very much for Gore Vidal's Julian and read a bit else and then ...

Doris Lessing's 5 Children of Violence remain an important experience for me but ...

my admiration for Thomas Mann turned sour since "Herr und Hund"

Silke

Anonymous said...

Silke,

What about Lessing and Mann disappointed you? (I am guessing that Vidal's extreme hostility to Israel was what put him on your list.)

David E. Sigeti

Anonymous said...

David
If I remember correctly disappointment with Lessing came at the latest with the Nobel interviews but it must have been building up quite a while before that - such a smart woman who taught me so much - I would have to google what was the final hurt but it had something to do with her going for the utopian while she had for so long seemed so much in synch with reality. It is likely that it was something about the IP situation or the Americans - both are so much the canaries in the coal mines.

Mann is another story - that "Herr und Hund" is a short story/novella thing and I never want to go near it again - maybe it has something to do with my personal story that it resonates so much to this day - the best I can do to describe it is that I remember it as having encountered an unsavoury pleasure in dominating

Both Lessing and Mann and Vidal also remain important for me but they've lost the kind of trust that I still have for Austen or Robert Graves or Schiller or or or i.e. when I glimpse with any of them a piece of their not so pleasant sides it fits in with the rest i.e. they don't become ugly from it.

I am a total gut reader with no formal education. I don't revere an author (never wrote a letter to anyone to this day and don't feel like I want to) they are more like remote friends or mentors for me to whose judgment or advice or experience I turn when in need of sanity.

Silke

Anonymous said...

David

I forgot - Vidal had an interview in the Atlantic where he explained the Polanski drama in the typical Vidal style kind of in Polanski's favour

I don't care much for men who go for very young girl (but the 70s are not now, no matter how illegal it was then it was also the time when men still believed they did us a favour if they would consent to "awaken" us - Wilhelm Reich was all the rage;) but the Polanski case frightens me more generally because all the time I read everywhere that he had "raped a child", once Ghost came out it was all of a sudden something like unlawful sex with a minor.

Mobbing wherever it occurs makes me want to run as fast and as far as possible.

Silke

Anonymous said...

Silke,

Thanks for the substantial reply. I have a much better idea what you were talking about. I like your description of your relationship with your favorite authors. I will try to remember it the next time I encounter someone who questions the value of literature.

David E. Sigeti

Anonymous said...

David
fiction is a life line
Ruth Klüger tells that she recited the poems she knew by heart
A guy in films (Arthur Maria Rabenalt?) once told on TV the story that while he was on the run he was accosted on a river bank by guards (SS) and saw in a flash a scene from a movie which made him slip out of his shoe with the money in it kick it to the guard and jump with that same movement into the river ...

... and I pity all lonely children who these days get their images ready made from the TV screen

Silke