Page 173 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

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if that were the case, why then does the vast majority of poems
remain virtually undecipherable?15 In reply, he reaches the con­
clusion — consistent with his theory — that art is essentially what
one person does as he struggles to fashion an alternate reality, an
imaginative one, beside the actual, physical reality. At most, the
creation of one individual may be perceived by another (one)
who is spiritually and intellectually akin. Yizhar is adamant in his
belief that literature is not written for a society. “Society does not
read books. Only one man reads what one other person writes.”
Yet when addressing issues of national concern, as he so often
does in print and through the electronic media, Yizhar’s voice is
authoritative and declamatory, though tinged with a good meas­
ure of compassion and even pain. Sounding the moral alarm, he
takes his own Labor party to task over the failure of its leadership
to live up to the founding fathers’ ideals and social vision.
There is a curious chronological correspondence between the
time S. Yizhar turned from belles-lettres to writing and speaking
on topical issues and the time — post 1967 — when the State of
Israel began to experience the kind of domestic transformations
which have markedly altered its social and political nature.
Yizhar was among the first to warn of the consequences of set­
tling the West Bank; both in terms of the injustice inherent in
such a policy toward the Palestinians and the effect such actions
might have on the democratic nature of Israel.
Not unlike other prominent writers of his generation (such as
Moshe Shamir, Aharon Megged and Hayim Gouri), much of
Yizhar’s attention became focused on the most urgent issues
which confronted Israeli society. In response to the crisis of polit­
ical leadership in the Labor party, the debacle of the Yom Kippur
war and the growing polarization of the country’s population
along ethnic, religious and political lines, Yizhar’s voice conveyed
an urgency and rang with the kind of authenticity which left very
few listeners unmoved.
Yizhar’s undiminished love for Eretz Israel is expansive in na­
ture; it has made him tolerant and respectful toward others who
15 S. Yizhar, “Sippur eino tikshoret”(A story is not communication),
22, 1983.