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Bellow Says Israel Government Helped Spark Anti-Semitism in U.S. for Its Involvement in the Pollard Case

May 5, 1987
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Saul Bellow, the American Nobel Laureate in Literature, holds the Israel government responsible for stoking anti-Semitism in the United States by its involvement in the Jonathan Pollard spy case.

He described Israel’s use of Pollard, an American-Jewish civilian employe of the Navy serving a life sentence for spying for Israel, as “a piece of foolishness and recklessness” which did not take into consideration the impact on American Jews.

“If the Israel government had a natural interest in the American Jewish community, it should protect it from such pitfalls,” Bellow told reporters in Haifa, where he attended a three-day international conference last week at Haifa University devoted to his literary work.

Anti-Semitism has been on the rise for some time in the U.S. and the Pollard affair is the kind of thing anti-Semites seize upon, Bellow said. “I think the American Jews are very sensitive to the question of dual allegiance, and it is probably wrong of Israel to press this question because it is one which is very often used by anti-Semites,” he said.

Bellow, who was raised in an Orthodox home in the U.S., explained why he prefers to live there rather than in Israel. “I resent the rules of Orthodoxy and like to live in a land where I can’t be reached by its long and fossilized arm,” he said. He added that he discerned a danger of Israel becoming a theocratic state, “which is very objectionable.”

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