BETWEEN RIGHT AND RIGHT by A. B. Yehoshua

BETWEEN RIGHT AND RIGHT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Israeli novelist Yehoshua (Early in the Summer of 1970, The Haven) here tackles the perennial problems of Jewish/Israeli identity, Zionism, and the Holocaust. Writing from a nationalist secular point of view, Yehoshua sees the ""phenomenom of the Galut""--of exile and diaspora--as the key to understanding the Jewish people. This ""neurotic,"" ""existential schizophrenia""--this condition of self-imposed exile--was the only solution, he maintains, to the conflict between a normal national existence and ""a spiritual system making the people's existence subject to religious spiritual demands."" The Galut was endured because it was easier for the Jewish people, despite the economic hardship and physical insecurity, to live religiously in an alien society than to have to prove to itself and to the rest of the world that the Jews in their own country are ""a kingdom of priests and a holy people""--Israel's unachievable part of the Biblical contract. The Holocaust, Yehoshua asserts, was the outcome of this abnormal existence--not the commencement of a new Jewish existence--for which the Jews bear partial responsibility. This, of course, is a view from which many will dissent--strongly. And its analogues are equally controversial. Rejecting the religious claim to the Land of Israel (God-given) and the historical claim (there were always Jews living there), Yehoshua opts for a moral justification: the right of the endangered to a part of the land. Thus the solution to the Jewish problem is for anyone who identifies as a Jew to become Israeli and live a ""total Jewish existence"" (which may or may not include religion) the ""signs of which are a land, a language, and an independent social framework."" A succinct and reasoned modernist approach--likely to be debated here as vociferously, if not as widely, as in Israel.

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 1981
Publisher: Doubleday