Saul Bellow on Kissinger, Sadat, and Writing "To Jerusalem and Back: A Personal Account"

October 26, 1975

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Saul Bellow on Kissinger, Sadat, and Writing "To Jerusalem and Back: A Personal Account"
Autograph Letter Signed
2 pages | SMC 1565

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      Background

      In Jerusalem, and writing the journal which was to become To Jerusalem and Back: A Personal Account, Bellow muses about his experiences in that city: whom he is meeting, what he is thinking, and passing along what he has heard about two of great figures of that time and place – Henry Kissinger and Anwar Sadat.
       
      Mayor Teddy Kollek has taken him to meet the Armenian Archbishop, a “wonderfully interesting” man, who would eventually be featured in Bellow’s book – a work which, as of this letter, he is not even sure he is writing. He is “concentrating” on his journal, he says, but it’s not to be talked about. “Perhaps it will never be printed,” he explains, “I'll have to see what it all looks like.” Still, what he wants is “to convey the situation as much as possible from an American standpoint.” To this end, he asks his correspondent to send him books by an Undersecretary of Defense, the political economist G. Warren Nutter, whose work, Nobel-prize winning economist Milton Friedman told Bellow, proves that Kissinger “is a charlatan.”
       
      Bellow is sending to The New York Times a translation of an article in praise of Hitler written by Sadat in 1954. “Certainly, the Times knows all about Sadat's Nazi record but it will be interesting just the same… But the Times probably has a state - dep't of its own, with a Middle East desk and its own Sadat policy.” He adds that he dearly loves to “put people on the spot in this way” and recounts how, a few months before, he did this to Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger, “asking him to intercede with the S. Korean gov't on behalf of a poet sentenced to death for his poems - no other charges against him. The man hasn't been shot yet, I'm glad to say. I put the thing to Schlesinger very sharply.”
       
      To Jerusalem and Back was published in 1976 and hailed, by The New York Times, as an impassioned and thoughtful book. In it, Bellow reported on Israelis of varying viewpoints — Yitzhak Rabin, Amos Oz, the editor of the largest Arab-language newspaper in Israel, a kibbutznik who had escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto — and added his own thoughts on what it means to be Jewish in the twentieth century.


      Autograph Letter Signed (“Saul”), 2 pages, quarto,Mishkenot Sha'anaim, 
      Jerusalem, October 26, 1975. To Samuel [S. Goldberg] at 8 West 40th Street, New York, New York.
       
      With autograph envelope, missing recto quadrant.

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      Mishkenot Sha'ananim
      POB 8215 
      Jerusalem

      Oct 26 '75

      Dear Friend. The two books arrived, many thanks, and I read them and was depressed to the bone by the human condition as revealed etc. the vengeance of the children on those who neglect them, and the vengeance of the children on themselves -- within. There are times when I feel like a kid who steals under the tent expecting the joys of the circus, free, and who has a nightmare instead -- a 3 ring nightmare.

      So I am concentrating on my journal. Not to be talked about. Perhaps it will never be printed. I'll have to see what it all looks like. Kollek, who knows what I'm planning, takes me to see "interesting people". Most recently the Armenian Archbishop, who actually was wonderfully interesting. Since I want to cover the situation as much as possible from [text is crossed out] an American standpoint [sic] I'm reading a great deal about the conduct of the U. S. since 1948 and before. I've found the Kedourie books -- they're indispensable. But what I'd like you to dig up for me is a new book by a man named NUTTER. He was assistant Sec. of Defense under Laird -- that's all I know about him. No, that's not quite 

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      2

      all. Milton Friedman (U of O) recommends him, says that he proves, or at least strongly argues, that Kissinger is a charlatan.

      This afternoon I'm sending to Sidney Grusan of the N. Y. Times [text is crossed out] the translation of an article in praise of Hitler written by Sadat in 1954. Certainly, the Times knows all about Sadat's Nazi record, but it will be interesting just the same. I dearly love to put people on the spot in this way. A few months ago I did it to Schlesinger (the Defense Sec.), asking him to intercede with the S. Korean gov't on behalf of a poet condemned to death for his poems -- no other charges against him. The man hasn't been shot yet, I'm glad to say. I put the thing to Schlesinger very sharply. No answer. I think Grunan will answer. But the Times probably has a state - dep't of its own, with a Middle East desk and its own Sadat policy.

      I hope your health continues good. If you believe the papers NYC is suffocating in its own garbage. In the hay fever season garbage fumes may neutralize hay weed.

      Please send the Nutter book air mail. I will indemnify you. 

      Yours affectionately

      SAUL

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      BELLOW

      MISHKE[...] משכנות 
      SHA'ANANIM שאננים 
      JERUSALEM ירושלים

      Mr. Samue[...]
      8 W. 40th St.
      New York, N. Y.  U. S. A.

      JERUSALEM P.O.B. 8215  .ירושלים ת.ד TEL. 02-224321 .טל


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      07    07

      G Warren Nutter