Editor’s Wrapup: Shakespeare, the Bomb and the Star
Sarah Shapiro has spent much of her life buffeted between two poles. The daughter of Norman Cousins—the writer and editor known, among other things, for bringing the “Hiroshima Maidens” to America after World War II—she grew up with an ethic of turning enemies into friends and making a permanent enemy of the atomic bomb. But as a woman living in Israel, she has long had her doubts about whether gestures of peace work with all enemies and a secret suspicion that a nuclear deterrent is necessary—perhaps a necessary evil—in keeping Israel alive. Shapiro wrestles, on a personal level, with the contradictory forces of peace and security in “Between Hiroshima and Jerusalem,” beginning on page 12.
Every person and every institution confronts issues of balance, of finding a proper place between extremes. One organization at a crossroads today is the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has long refused to admit Israel as a full member into the movement because of the Jewish state’s use of a Star of David as its emblem. In the next few months, the ICRC will have to choose between letting Israel in or losing its founding and most important constituent, the American Red Cross. Matthew E. Berger reports (page 8) on the struggle for Israel’s inclusion, the ARC’s principled defense of Israeli membership and how it has come to a head.
For 400 years, Jewish theatergoers have been simultaneously fascinated and repelled by Shylock, the central figure in The Merchant of Venice. Today, a new generation of directors, actors and scholars is studying Shakespeare’s Jewish moneylender, a new wave of productions is before the public and the famous, fictional Venetian is still evolving. Liel Leibovitz looks at the phenomenon in Shylock Returns, beginning on page 52. Perhaps Shakespeare’s genius is that he created a character who tapped into the contradictory forces that shape, and shake, all our lives.