Page 45 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

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SILBERSCHLAG / ARABS IN HEBREW FICTION
37
sianism o f the son. Too much identity, too little practicality: tha t is
the o lder generation. Too little identity, too serious proclivities
for dying in the defense o f the country: tha t is the paradox o f the
younger generation.
ARAB-JEWISH TENSIONS
In
The Lover
— Yehoshua’s only novel — the Arab-Israeli syn­
d rom e is mere background; the Yom K ippur War is seen th rough
a set o f characters in Haifa. A fifteen-year-old Arab and his boss, a
Jewish owner of a garage, re-enact the tragicomedy o f Arab-
Jewish symbiosis.
Doing menial work — lying und e r cars — and commanding his
Jewish fellow-workers to “let go” or “press h a rd e r ,” the young
Arab equates his au thority with absolute superiority: “T he Jews
do exactly what I tell them .” He is delighted with Jewish self­
accusations on the radio; he is convinced o f the ir stupidity. But his
boss exercises real authority and governs his professional and
private life. In harsh words he rem inds him tha t one should wash
before going to bed.
— Shame on you, boy, we a ren ’t in Mecca, wash . . .
— What has Mecca to do with it? Mecca is cleaner than all
Israel.
— Have you ever been there?
— No, bu t neither have you.
T he boy falls in love with the garage owner’s daugh ter . Love and
hate, hate and love: on an individual plane the Arab-Israeli rela­
tionships are repeated in endless variations. T hough they are
periphe ra l ra the r than central to the plot, they force themselves
on the reader with an impact tha t no sociological study can p re ­
sent.
Sammy Michael (1926-
) also used the Yom K ippur War as
background to his novel
Refuge
which appeared in 1977. But his
characters are motivated by leftist ideologies ra th e r than national
aspirations. T he strong ethnic prejudices have hardened ; they
have become unassailable verities.
T he Jews rob the Arab o f all his possessions. They demolish
his house and th ru s t a cane into his hand and tell him:
Scram.