Three years after stepping down as prime minister, Ehud Olmert is cleared of the most serious graft charges against him, reports the Times of Israel.
The former prime minister was cleared in the Rishon Tours double billing case and on charges of illegally taking money from American businessman Morris Talansky. Olmert was found guilty on a third lesser charge of a conflict of interest in a real estate investment when he was industry minister. He still faces charges taking bribes in a different matter, the Holyland real estate scandal. That trial is ongoing.
Adam Kirsch of the New Republic critiques Christian novelist John Updike’s series about his Jewish character, Henry Bech.
Often Updike’s attempts to mark Bech as a Jewish writer feel mechanical, and slightly off. Bech grows up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and goes to a public school in the East 70s, but Jewish writers of his generation were more likely to come from the Bronx or Brooklyn; it wasn’t until rather later that the West Side became a bourgeois Jewish neighborhood. At one point Bech’s father is said to have been a diamond merchant from Amsterdam—again, not an impossible background, but statistically quite unlikely for an Ashkenazi Jew such as Bech. Even Bech’s name is a little off. More true to life is the way that, when Bech’s mother died, “He had scarcely mourned. No one sat shivah. No Kaddish had been said. Six thousand years of observance had been overturned in Bech.” Both the lack of piety and the guilt over breaking with tradition feel authentic.
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