Page 34 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 35

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Bellow does convey, persuasively and often passionately, his
attachment to Israel, Jews and the traditions of Judaism, al­
though he honestly proclaims his strong Americanism, which is
deftly stressed in the final two words of the book’s title. Bellow
is suffused by love for Jerusalem and, looking out o f his door,
thinks, “I . . . feel that the light of Jerusalem has purifying
powers and filters the blood and the thoughts.” He allows him­
self a touch of mysticism, “Letting down the barriers o f ration­
ality, I feel that I can hear Mount Zion as well as see i t .”
Throughout, Bellow expresses both his admiration for the
Israelis (although he calls attention to his “American even-
handedness”) , and his despair over “the nightmare of annihila­
tion.” He writes that “these people [the Israelis, from whom he
somehow detaches himself] are actively, ind ividually involved
in universal history. I don’t see how they can bear it.”
He reads incessantly and omniverously about the Middle East
and the Jews and Israelis. He spends time with Israeli novelists
and poets, politicians and social scientists. The faces of the Jews
are familiar to him, like members of his family in Canada and
Chicago. He is a Jew among Jews. And he is here, as elsewhere,
clearly and even lovingly, a Jewish writer.