And certainly in , hardly any Jews left Germany, or even tried to leave Germany. We Jews owe our present-day selves to the Enlightenment, which freed us from centuries of oppression and allowed us to walk on our hind legs in public spaces like everyone else. They were basically running the kingdom, until finally the resentment against them became so strong that they were barred from running the kingdom.
And they were the secretaries of treasury, and great counselors to the king. And since they were not Jews anymore, they also took very high positions in the church.dev-43.astralweb.com.tw/8209.php
Brothers Don’t Travel: Short Stories from Israel
They too did not understand the rumblings underneath. We do it all the time. Remember when Assad came to power in Syria, what did they say about him? Of course he had to do some hard things to get himself into power. Is there a gap in the language that is available to us that makes it harder for us to reckon with social realities and forces that depart from our idea of what is—or should be—normal? Think of what ISIS is doing right now. If you told someone a year ago, or half a year ago, that 21 Christians will be led up the coast in Libya and be beheaded and a group called ISIS will videotape it, and everyone will watch it on YouTube, you would have seemed crazy—just like [the German] Dieter seems like the crazy one in my play.
The non-Jewish characters see the cracks in their own society clearly, or at least Dieter does. On the other hand, the needs and the longings and distortions of the Jewish characters are fuzzy to them. Dieter does not understand what motivates Leah and Mark. He cannot grasp it.
Dieter hears the talk, he understands German society, and he understands how strong it is. His parents are anti-Semites. He understands that it is a grave danger to these people he cares about. But obviously he has a hard time understanding their psychological needs, their tremendous desire to be accepted as Germans, not as Jews. Neither Mark nor Leah is blind. They try to delude themselves. Her life is being destroyed by the rise of the Nazis. She feels it. But she wants to mold … no, to force, I would say, Germany to be what she wants it to be.
So, she hangs on to Dieter, the ideal German. He loves art. He once heard a recording of a symphony I love—that means we love exactly the same music! She tries to force Germany or Berlin to be what she wants it to be, and this is her great attraction to Dieter. If Mark would have seen the Nazi demonstration, he might not have understood what he was seeing.
But once again, we have psychological needs. Talk to me a bit about how your sense of how delusion is the normal condition of mankind might connect to your experience of growing up with your father, and his understanding of Spanish Jewry, which is certainly one of the greatest historical portraits of Jewish self-delusion ever written.
As a child, you play soccer games with your brothers, and you go to the boy scouts, and all that.
When we were older and mature, we started talking to him. And we realized that he was of value, and maybe he knows something. The theme of the misunderstanding of reality is certainly a key part of the story he told. The Origins of the Inquisition , which really is a history of Jews, starts with a history of anti-Semitism and a history of the Jews in Spain, up until the Inquisition.
And he also talks a little bit about the expulsion. Both because of what they have to undergo, and also because of their continued blindness, time after time after time. I must confess that this conversation feels very familiar to me. I remember interviewing your brother, the prime minister, when he was in the opposition. I think it must have been in He was in a small office in the Knesset, and we sat together for an hour and a half, and he was very single-minded on this subject, the way that you are.
He first explained how people systematically misread reality, even when it is happening in front of their eyes, and then he started to criticize the pullout from Gaza, and he was telling me about Hamas, and how they were going to start firing missiles, and then the missiles would get bigger and bigger, and they were going to be raining down on Israel. And then he went from Gaza to Iran, and how they were trying to develop a nuclear bomb to make good on their threat to destroy Israel. I want an ice-cream cone. Because in the end we all die anyway.
Look at Jabotinsky, poor guy, in You have to leave. There should be no considerations of your homes and your furniture and your pianos. Do not stay here. My father wrote and we published a book of his essays about what he called the founders of Zion.
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There was an essay there that he wrote about Herzl that he wrote in He was then 27 years old. The Jews will not survive in Europe. Did your father tell you that America was different than Europe, or an extension of Europe, or who knows what it is? But we did not have any kind of ideological upbringing. Ben-Gurion was the prime minister and my father was not a member of any party and there was no internal Israeli politics discussed in our home.
I think it was not considered appropriate to even speak about the Jewish government of a newborn state.
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You went to college here, and did your medical residencies here. Do you think this society is fundamentally different from Europe, or not? But you had periods in Europe when the Jews were flourishing. To what extent will it erupt and when, or will it erupt, who knows. As a writer, I am an American.
None of the people who taught me to write English-language sentences and tell stories were Jewish. And yet, in my personal life, I am deeply fascinated by Jewish history and I live part-time in a Jewish community and happily identify myself as a Jew. I think that the seeming contradictions between my writing life and my everyday life make sense here, because there is something particular in the American DNA that has to do with the fact that it was founded by radically Old Testament-centered English Protestant dissenters who considered themselves to be a New Israel.
In England there was a very strong philo-Semitic tradition. I think about these questions all the time, not so much the Jewish condition, but about the general condition of the Western world. The play was shown last in a Muslim country, Uzbekistan. The director himself is Muslim. You look at a film, it says this person has cancer. Do you ever deliver that news to patients? Usually not, thank God. But in Israel, friends or others occasionally do come to me with film and ask me to read it. About a month and a half ago, a friend came to me with a CT and wanted me to read it, and he had diffuse cancer.
I had to tell him, what could I do? Interesting, surprising, and often times funny, "Brother's Don't Travel" paints Israel as a quirky country still on the verge of realizing its place in the world.
African refugees, ultra-Orthodox Jews, hash-smoking tourists; a clash of cultures, each story shedding new light on the people who inhabit this tumultuous region. Kenneth Ngwa is an active participant in the literary community, contributing several articles to traveler s journal and trade magazines. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia College.
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