Coming to grips with authors whose values you don’t share

My February 15, 2022 book culture column for the San Francisco Chronicle:

A few months ago, I read an article in the New York Times that floored me. It describes how Refaat Alareer, a Palestinian professor at Islamic University of Gaza and a harsh critic of Israeli policies toward Palestinians, nevertheless teaches Israeli poets Yehuda Amichai and Tuvia Ruebner, extolling their work. ¶ Alareer also teaches “The Merchant of Venice” and “Oliver Twist,” encouraging his students to empathize with the Jewish characters Shylock and Fagin, widely considered antisemitic caricatures.

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