Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Thinking Jewish Woman's Crumpet Wins the Booker Prize

In honor of Howard Jacobson's Booker Prize 2010 win, here are a few of his notable essays in The Independent. You will note that some of his most lacerating humor is aimed at the type of Israel-hating often exemplified in words and pictures published in The Independent. A funny paradox, but irony is his métier. I also include a recent interview from Tablet from which I've pulled this sample:

Do you find yourself feeling obliged to defend Israel’s right to do all kinds of bad things that other nations do to survive? Oh, non-stop. I write a column in the Independent, which has some journalists who are known throughout the world for their undisguised, and perfectly well-expressed and declared anti-Zionism and worse, and I have to bite my tongue off each week. Do I now become a person who writes about nothing but Israel? Is there or isn’t there something to complain about? Are we going mad by thinking that there is? Does it make sense to shut up? And sometimes, quite simply, can you afford to go on thinking about this? Can you wake up each morning, and go to the computer, and go to the websites, go to the hate sites and then go to the few sites in which the people are calmer and take a more rational approach to these things. When I was writing The Finkler Question, this is what was happening.

And we’re not just talking about those bloody settlements. I’d go out with my own bare hands and pull them down. I want to throttle [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu for not knowing that you’ve got a golden opportunity here: Stop the bloody settlements. It’s not that kind of thing, which is perfectly fair. It’s the other stuff, that goes from that to “Israel is an apartheid country,” which is rubbish, “Israel is a fascist country,” “Israel is a Nazi country,” to “Zionism has always been colonialist in ambition,” to a whole false re-evaluation of the history of Israel, as though what Israel at its very worst now and then is is what Israel was always bound to be and always had to be. And that’s unforgivable.
I remember very vividly in 1967, the Six-Day War. I remember it vividly because I was at sea. I was coming back from Australia from my first job in Australia and the ships were disrupted and we had to go a long way around. I remember reading the newspapers on the boat—could we have gotten newspapers on the boat? Yes, as we landed—and my sense was that the whole world felt that Israel was about to be beaten and about to be destroyed, and everybody was on its side, poor little Israel. And the moment Israel won, you could almost start to see people’s expressions change. Israel winning became a problem. And Israel winning big became a bigger problem. Israel swaggering around—well, Israel swaggering around is a problem for all of us—Israel not in trouble, not under threat has been a problem for people, and you have to ask, Why is that?
It’s one thing to feel, “Those poor Jews, they’re about to be murdered,” and another thing to feel, “Those bastard Jews have just won.”



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