Oriana Fallaci and Teshuva
It is with sadness that we note the passing of Oriana Fallaci, one of the greatest journalists of our times. We will miss her steadfast defense of Israel and Jews, and her trenchant criticism of both Islamofascism and the craven West that refuses to recognize the danger that Islamic extremism poses to its survival.
Daniel Pipes, in a longer appreciation of her work, points out the long list of political and other dignitaries whom she subjected to her signature interviews. “She is the only person to have interviewed the Ayatollah Khomeini, with whom she spent six hours. At one point, she memorably ripped off her chador in indignation and heaved it at his eminence.”
She was not always a friend of Israel. Always outspoken, for a long period of time it was Israel that knew the sharpness of her tongue. She reversed herself, not just a bit, but a full 180 degrees. She became Israel’s bulldog, and such a fierce opponent of Islamic expansionism, that she was charged with incitement, and had to flee her native Italy for New York. Here are her own words, from a larger piece worth reading:
I have often had disagreements with the Israelis, ugly ones, and in the past I have defended the Palestinians a great deal. Maybe more than they deserved. But I stand with Israel, I stand with the Jews. I stand just as I stood as a young girl during the time when I fought with them, and when the Anna Marias were shot. I defend their right to exist, to defend themselves, to not let themselves be exterminated a second time. And disgusted by the antisemitism of many Italians, of many Europeans, I am ashamed of this shame that dishonors my Country and Europe. At best, it is not a community of States, but a pit of Pontius Pilates. And even if all the inhabitants of this planet were to think otherwise, I would continue to think so.
We approach Rosh Hashanah, stooped over under two burdens. We are aware of our failures and indiscretions. They make teshuva urgent, but difficult. The greater obstacle, however, is in remembering the many attempts at change in previous years that did not quite work out. Oriana Fallaci can be an inspiration to us. She dropped a mindset, an entire vocabulary, and the support of much of her public, simply because she faced the facts. She showed how a bright, talented, opinionated adult could change course in midstream, when faced with the clarity of truth.
Rumors are that she called herself an atheist.
By now, she certainly has changed her mind on that issue as well. We wish her an easy adjustment.
When I read of her reversal, I decided that she must be somehow related to Reb Chaim Palagi, the great talmid chacham of Turkey of the previous century. But as it turns out, she was just a person who allowed herself to think honestly, a rare and enviable skill indeed.
When I read Ms. Fallaci’s articles post 9-11 , I thought of the statemet that one can acquire The World to Come in one minute.