Wednesday, April 18, 2018

David Grossman

Israeli writer David Grossman is not what's technically described as a "Torah sage" by today's ultra-orthodox theocrats, but when it comes to the reality of Israel he seems to me very much a sage. At any rate, he is someone I look to in times of crisis, such as this one — not that Israel, and beyond Israel, Jewry ever lack for crises.

Here is a remark I've chosen from Grossman's "Israel Is a Fortress, but Not Yet a Home," his Memorial Day Speech to Bereaved Israelis and Palestinians:***

When Israeli snipers kill dozens of Palestinian protesters, most of them civilians — Israel is less of a home.


Not much of his talk is dedicated explicitly to the conflict at the Gaza border. Most of it is directed to Israel's existential situation — not existential in the sense usually used, as in "Iran represents an existential threat to the Jewish State" **, but morally existential, in the ways Israel consistently undercuts much of its own meaning.

For example, he says: Israel is painful for us. Because it is not the home we want it to be. We acknowledge the great and wonderful thing that happened to us, by having a state, and we are proud of its accomplishments in many areas, in industry and agriculture, in culture and art, in I.T. and medicine and economics. But we also feel the pain of its distortion.

I'm not Israeli but I care profoundly about the country. From the relative safety of the United States, I acknowledge "the great and wonderful thing that happened to [Jews], by having a state."

Were I Israeli I'd hope to care about that state the way David Grossman does.

** Worth noting is that Grossman does not criticize the Israeli attack on an Iranian outpost in Syria, coterminous with the conflict at the Gaza border. Not to speak for Grossman, but that may be significant. At any rate, I do not challenge Israel's right to neutralize in advance an Iranian or any other threat in advance of it becoming militarily existential.


***The full text of Grossman's speech can be found at https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/full-text-speech-by-david-grossman-at-alternative-memorial-day-event-1.6011820

If a pay wall prevents viewing the whole text, I will supply it on request.



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