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Men of Mystery

One the eve of the release of his 11th book, spy novelist Alan Furst reflects on his sources of inspiration and his cerebral and wordly—if not always Jewish—protagonists

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  Alan Furst’s bestselling spy novels depict the secret allegiances and betrayals that animated interwar and wartime Europe, but what distinguishes his work from others who’ve toiled in the genre is the attention he pays to the flavor of everyday life. Amid the forged documents and concealed identities, he still manages to conjure things like the meal a well-to-do couple traveling through the Belgian countryside might have eaten in1941: radishes, salted beef tongue, “some kind of white, waxy cheese,” dried winter apples, and a loaf of bread.

In Furst’s latest, Spies of the Balkans, he introduces us to Constantine “Costa” Zannis, a high-level Salonika detective who, somewhat inadvertently, becomes one link in a chain of operatives shepherding Jews out of Germany. Vox Tablet’s Sara Ivry speaks to Furst, in his home in Sag Harbor, Long Island, about how, in 1986, a Django Reinhardt cassette led him to the time and place he’s written about ever since; about his upbringing on Manhattan’s Upper West Side; and about his attraction to unattached, intellectual heroes.

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Furst is right that the Soviet spies he wrote about were born Jewish but that doesn’t make them Jewish. They didn’t act as Jews and they didn’t act for Jews and they were also brutal towards Jews.

It’s wrong to see every person born from Jewish parents as a Jew.

Alexander Diamond says:

Really? How then do you “see” them, as Scientologists maybe?

Relax Diamond, they are what they said they were Bolsheviks.

When a born Jew embraces a different religion of cult he stops being a Jew.

These Bolsheviks treated their fellow Jews with extreme barbarism.

Try reading about what the Bolsheviks did to the Jewish communities (the shtetls) in the 1920 and 30’s.

They tended to be tougher on their own just to prove that they were good Bolsheviks.

Ironically, they were always under suspicion. You know “once a Yid……”

Still in their own eyes they were communists fighting to turn the world communist and not Jews.

Dear Friends:

Traditional Jewish law says that a person cannot forfeit Jewish identity no matter what causes or other religions they adopt or conduct that they engage in. The rule is: “even though a sinner, always a Jew.” A person may become a sinful Jew or a wicked Jew or an apostate Jew, but they are still a Jew.

Now Reform and Recon have tried to change that and treat Jews who convert “out,” etc. as “non-Jews” under their rules for affiliation, but I think it is an unwise decision. As long as a person is regarded as a Jew, there is always the possibility that they may return to the Jewish people.

“Traditional Jewish law says that a person cannot forfeit Jewish identity no matter what causes or other religions they adopt or conduct that they engage in. The rule is: “even though a sinner, always a Jew.” A person may become a sinful Jew or a wicked Jew or an apostate Jew, but they are still a Jew.”

You arw wrong, Jews in Spain who adopted Catholicism during the inquistion were ruled not to be Jews by Rabbis at that time.

What are we talking about here? “Who Is A Jew” or Alan Furst, the masterful novelist?

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Men of Mystery

One the eve of the release of his 11th book, spy novelist Alan Furst reflects on his sources of inspiration and his cerebral and wordly—if not always Jewish—protagonists

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