Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Israele Siamo Noi (Israel is Us)is a new book by Fiamma Nirenstein, an Italian journalist who grew up in a communist Zionist household and now has become a version of the American neo-con:

So I turned to the students and asked them, “If you were threatened, like Israel is, would you go into the army?” And they all said no. Then I asked them if their brother or sister were being threatened, would they go into the army, and they said no.

Then I thought about what I wrote in the book about Israeli youth. And I thought of the stupid saying by Bertolt Brecht, “Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes.”

Well, I think, “Happy the land that is in need of heroes,” because it gives the people the possibility of loving and being committed to something. Of course, I’m not referring to warriors against democracy and for conquering the world, like the Islamists do. I’m referring to wars of defense, like those of Israel. When you speak to Israeli boys and girls - even during this time of the Winograd Committee findings about the failures of the government and upper echelons of the IDF - you realize how unique they are. None of this stops them from wanting to serve in the army. Nor does it stop them from wanting to go to pubs at night. This duality is a fantastic creation of the State of Israel. Indeed, Israel is special for the fantastic men it has created. Which is why I feel so bad whenever I see it despised and destroyed by Israelis themselves.

Brecht's dictum is indeed stupid. Of the same kind of (galactic) stupidity that motivates a blogger to post this Kipling's quote:

"If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied"

on the very day that America mourns and honours its fallen soldiers.

They both mean that every cause or principle which may need fighting for is a manufactured lie and therefore not worth fighting for: not when your own life and country are threatened, not when your brother's life is threatened and certainly not when the life of some far away strange human being is threatened.

It is the opposite sentiment and principle of the universal brotherhood which John Donne immortalized in his famous homily

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece
of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy
friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am
involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee";

And which Hemingway brought to fictional llife in his novel and George Orwel actually practiced in his life, as he recounts in his book: Homage to Catalonia, ending on this note:

"..Earthquakes in Japan, famines in China, revolutions in Mexico? Don't worry, the milk will be on the doorstep tomorrow morning, the New Statesman will come out on Friday. . . the green bosoms of the elms, the larkspurs in the cottage gardens; and then the huge peaceful wilderness of outer London, the barges on the miry river, the familiar streets, the posters telling of cricket matches and Royal weddings, the men in bowler hats, the pigeons in Trafalgar Square, the red buses, the blue policemen--all sleeping the deep, deep sleep of England, from which I sometimes fear that we shall never wake till we are jerked out of it by the roar of bombs.


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