Page 174 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
claim like sentiments. He can be unsparing, however, in his criti­
cism of xenophobic parochialism which has sanctioned and con­
doned acts of violence by Jews against Arabs.16Yizhar considers
the greatest challenge for the future to lie in reshaping the Israeli
nation. He believes that such a nation should not be defined ac­
cording to the standards of traditional religious authorities, who
have assumed of late a decidedly radical form, but by secular, hu­
manistic values. The latter must reflect the authentic nature of
the people now living in Eretz Israel as well as the history of their
struggle for survival.
For close to half a century, Yizhar’s capacity to engage his read­
ers has not diminished. As the first major writer of this century
whose maternal language is Hebrew, Yizhar is alone in having
succeeded in depicting the natural landscape of Eretz Israel
through the ancient language of that land. To achieve that, he
fashioned a syntax and a vocabulary which are decidedly unique:
neither biblical Hebrew nor quite like modern Hebrew. The fact
that most of his work is regarded as esoteric and remains virtually
inaccessible for the majority of readers does in no way belittle this
accomplishment.
Ultimately, the history of arts and letters will be the one to
render judgment on Yizhar’s work. Ours is the pleasant task of
noting his achievements and acknowledging his contributions to
Hebrew literature in celebration of his anniversary.
16 Y. Smilansky, “Od al har ha-bayit” (Something else concerning the Temple
Mount),
Davar,
June 29, 1984.