David Solway's Hear, O Israel!: A Feast for the Conservative Mind
By David Solway
Canadian Values Press (Mantua Books)
181 pages; $25
On September 10, 2001, Canadian David Solway was merely an acclaimed poet, educator, and literary critic, warming himself (and his unexamined 1960s-era left-wing views) on a tranquil Greek island.
On September 11, 2001, he became a prophet. Watching the collapse of the twin towers on a television in his local café, Solway experienced a worldview-shattering epiphany that drew him into a singular fellowship of Western liberal intellectuals -- Christopher Hitchens, Alain Finkielkraut, Michael Novak, and Nick Cohen, among them -- who had been shocked by 9/11 into a fearful awareness of Islamist triumphalism’s threat to the West. As if making up for lost time, these ideological converts have brought a special urgency to their newly embraced roles as political Cassandras, perhaps none more apocalyptically than Solway.
Since then, Solway has put his formidable intellect to the service of myth-busting. In 2007, he published The Big Lie: On Terror, Anti-Semitism, and Identity, an indictment of the left’s collusion with Islamo-fascism in demonizing America and delegitimizing Israel.
In a way, Hear, O Israel!, partially adapted from published articles, is a recapitulation and updating of perils that have proliferated since the publication of The Big Lie. But this time Solway dwells at greater length and depth on what the Talmud calls sin’at achim, or brotherly hatred, a dynamic throughout Jewish civilization, currently embodied in the intensifying standoff between fellow-traveling anti-Zionists and Israel’s defenders.
Hear, O Israel!’s chapter titles give a good sense of what preoccupies him: “We Are All Israeli,” “The Darkness of Anti-Semitism,” “A House Divided,” and “The Question” (in a nutshell: why are Jews -- not all, but a disconcerting number -- so prone to turn on themselves and make common cause with those who would delight in their extermination?).