Quite interesting and maybe the names should have given it away, but then why should they have? Anyway, there was me reading an article in the ‘Jewish Journal” on the author J.D. Salinger who has just died at the age of 91, and for the paper a close second in importance to the author’s death appears to be the question of his Jewishness. The ‘Jewish Virtual Library‘ explained his “complicated background” for us: “J.D. (Jerome David) Salinger was born on January 1, 1919, in Manhattan,New York. He was born to a Jewish father and an Irish Catholic mother.His mother changed her name to Miriam and passed as Jewish when she married; J.D. did not find out that his mother was not Jewish until just after his bar mitzvah.” Well maybe if I skimmed and scanned the ‘National Catholic Reporter’ and other newspapers from that section of the ‘God Squad’ I might find an article on J.D.Salinger under the heading: “Was he really Catholic?” For my part I don’t really care one way or another and I only know that the author of that marvelous little ditty, “Catcher in the Rye” has died.
Of course, when you start skimming and scanning you begin to discover all sorts of things and right under the news of J.D Salinger’s death I read “Howard Zinn, historian and political activist dies” and lo and behold on clicking on the link to the full article in the ‘Boston Globe’s’ online site, I read that, “Dr. Zinn was born in New York City on Aug. 24, 1922, the son of Jewish immigrants, Edward Zinn, a waiter, and Jennie (Rabinowitz) Zinn, ahousewife.”Would sort of make him Jewish too and do you know something, I couldn’t really care less whether Dr Zinn had been born a Jew, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist or whatever. No, I am just sorry to see Dr Zinn, who only recently said; “I think people are dazzled by Obama’s rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president– which means, in our time, a dangerous president — unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction,” is dead.
Finally, that brings me to the issue of Palestine and as it happens the people being occupied and oppressed are Arabs, mostly Sunni Muslims but also some Shia, various Christian sects and some Druze, and the people doing the oppressing are Jewish. Now, my views on religion have been expressed time and time again in this blog and any reader who has read any of those posts will quickly come to the conclusion that my opinion of religion is that it is pathetic piffle, platitudes and poppycock, disgusting drivel and ghastly gobblydegook. However, the moral issues surrounding this conflict are determined as much by religion as Salinger’s ‘Catcher in the Rye’ and Zinn’s ‘A People’s History of the United State’s’ are determined by the religion of both of those authors. On the one hand, in Palestine we have the ongoing oppression and dispossession of a people by a foreign intruder and on the other hand, we have two very good authors and two wonderful books.