Nadine Gordimer is, at 84 years, still an elegant lady. She is also a Nobel
Laureate in Literature and so some people hope that she does and others
hope that she doesn't come to a writers's conference or not. Especially if
the conference is in Israel and coincides with the 60th anniversary of its
independence.  Frankly, I couldn't care less whether she chose to attend
the conclave. Israel's literary reputation does not hang on her
participation. It has enough moral spirits who write with incandescent
words to do without her. It isn't as if, moreover, that her ethical
credentials are so pristine. Though brave as an opponent of apartheid in
her native South Africa she performed the usual political somersaults
demanded of Communists and communist sympathizers. Nadine Gordimer was on
the wrong side, as for example Helen Suzman was not, of that very real
philosophical struggle that divided the world. Her side also lost but not
before it had shed the blood of tens of millions of innocents.

Gordimer is coming to Jerusalem after all, and presumably those Israelis
who judge the relative justice of their country's cause by the wishy-washy
solidarity of "progressive" allies are happy. As Ha'aretz reports in
Wednesday's edition, Gordimer reminded the comrades who urged her to
boycott the literary assembly that she had signed a statement, "Not in our
name," with other "South Africans of Jewish descent" asserting that "the
root cause" of the troubles was the occupation of the territories.

I know this goes for wisdom in some circles. But it is so ahistorical as
to be laughable. The Palestine Liberation Organization was founded by
Yassir Arafat in 1964, fully three years before the I.D.F. repelled the
invaders from the territories they were to lose in 1967. And Israel lived
with the terrorism of the Palestinian Arabs since before the state was born.