Monday, October 10, 2011

Harold Pinter (October 10, 1930)

Pinter, an English playwright and Nobel laureate, had Jewish parents, but like many English Jews, did not retain a public Jewish identity. According to Jewish Virtual Library, Joshua Cohen of Forward said, “Pinter is too much of a Modern to define himself as a Jew,” and that he “has downplayed his Judaism many times in conversation, and has consciously ignored it in his characterizations.” In what I see as an excess of pride, some Jewish critics have tried to assign Jewish sensibilities or motives to Pinter's writings. I am not convinced.

Pinter, sad to say, was not the only successful English Jewish intellectual to attack Israel and to assume as his own the left-wing attacks on Zionism and the defense of all Palestinians no matter what they did. I can only think about the caricature of this type of person in Howard Jacobson's book The Finkler Question.

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