Thursday, December 09, 2004

Loving the wrinkles
A reader comments:

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the word "zombified." And I do appreciate the fact that you had not one but two afterthoughts. Nevertheless I think that the word expressed something you really feel. And I'm sorry but I just have to disagree.

Don't judge the Jews by the Holocaust. The Jews of pre-war Europe were a pretty vibrant group. Didn't they think up Zionism? As well as anti-Zionism, and a bunch of other movements.

I totally agree.

He said something about drying the swamps causing ecological problems, as well. I agree with that too. Drying the swamps is this crazy Zionist symbol that people say with half a wink these days. Still it did help in combatting malaria and making the country inhabitable. The big big mistake was drying the Hula Lake. Anyway

Law number one for reading Not a Fish: Always remember that tomorrow I will probably say the direct opposite of what I have said today with much the same conviction.

Law number two for reading Not a Fish: Don't take me too seriously. I don't.

I don't think we should get stuck in ideas. In an argument, fr'instance, most people could (and should) probably argue vehemently for both sides. On this blog I usually make the case for Israel, but in other places, where it is called for, where it is lacking, or in different points in time, I could just as easily be making the case for the Palestinians (They kind of lost me, at some point, when I realized that their leadership was still out to get me in a big way, contrary to public declarations, but I'm still extremely sad that the ordinary people are paying such a high price as a result).

* * * *

I have always tried to steer clear from the subject of Hebrew because it is a divisive one: Israeli Jews speak Hebrew; Disapora Jews, on the whole, do not. But Hebrew is there, it plays a big part in Israeli culture, and ignoring that fact or belittling it won't change it. Actually, this even stresses my point. Israel is not just a place where a large number of Jews live together (That's New York).

Although Israel is very Jewish in spirit, its Jewishness is only part of the picture. Israel is home to a people called The Israelis, a large percentage of whom are Jews.

* * * *

When I started writing yesterday's post about Hebrew, I was thinking about a non-Zionist Jewish friend, who, last time I met him a few years ago, was embarking on a journey to reconnect with his roots. His roots were not Judaism, he said, but, as a Polish-born Jew who fled the Nazis to near-starvation in Siberia, and from there proceeded to Canada, he talked of something elusive that he called Yiddishkeit. This struck a nostalgic chord deep inside me and sent me running, along with a lot of other Israelis, I found, to study Yiddish and immerse myself in Yiddishkeit, and books about Polish Jewry. It was lovely, and warm, and sad, in a way - a path full of insights.

Yesterday's post was a rebellion, as was Zionism itself in its early days, against Yiddishkeit. It's lovely to bathe in the rich waters of nostalgia, and it has its place, but life is here and now. (Even my writing in English is a form of escapism).