Page 46 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 19

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e w i s h
o o k
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process and a ll an honest man can do is to refuse to become a
party to the fraud.
W hen confronted by the idealists of the older generation who,
although they had made peace w ith the new system and had
become men of influence, still thought of themselves as halutzim,
Moshe’s reaction is cynical:
“A pioneer country, that’s a new phrase. Where in the devil
did you dig that one up? In a minute you ’ll begin to speak about
self-sacrifice. Among us everybody is self-sacrificing. Some go to
America for two years, live elegantly and save up a nest egg. The
wife takes singing lessons, the boy learns to play an instrument,
the daughter to dance—but he, he is a halutz. T hey ’re so blamed
holy. O sure, halutziut still exists . . . yes there are a few who
still remember that every penny they spend is not their own.
But I ’m not talking about fossils. . . .
“When you get to America you w ill see fo r yourself what hap­
pens to a pioneer country and what it fathers—the Fords and the
varieties thereof, the politicians, the gangsters. W ho except some
idiot author rea lly cares about a group of desperate people toiling
in a tornado-beaten piece of country in Oklahoma? The Am eri­
cans, too, once lived through a stage which boasted of coon-capped
ambassadors. They ’ve long been replaced among us, just as among
them, by more convincing values.”
An Angry Young Man
Moshe personifies all the adolescent resentment of a typically
angry young man. Disillusioned with the pretty ideological pack­
age the parent generation had foisted upon him, he lashes out
rather cruelly at the stock image of the Sabra which the older
generation created and wished to preserve:
“Youth, you have a wrong conception about youth. You’ve
painted a pretty picture for yourselves. You are the brains and
we are the muscle. You are theory, we are practice. The Sabra is
cute, a bit goyish, something like those Ukrainian peasants who
beat you and were cheated by you. The Sabra w ill do whatever
we bid him. W ith this aim in view you composed our schoolbooks
and made your speeches. One cannot say you failed completely.
Up to a certain point we did your bidding, but now we are
youths no longer. W e ’ve straightened out our “temble hats” and
now our faces can be seen. Each of us has his own particu lar face;
we’ve kicked away the bonds and we’ve begun to march in differ­
ent and in odd directions.”
Bartov finally returns his hero to his homeland. But even the
reason for the return is typical of an angry young man. Neither
Zionism nor socialism as ideology has anything to do w ith it. It
grows out of an identification w ith the subterraneans of Israel