Page 83 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

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YUDKIN / YITZHAK BEN-NER, ISRAELI NOVELIST
75
sonally alienated several times over. As an immigrant (as the
early Zionist settlers were by their very nature), he is severed
from his origins, his family, his community, home environment
and language. And in his circumstances, he finds himself hope­
lessly in love with a woman who bears another man’s child, and
whom he serves beyond death. He announces at the outset of
his document: “This is not a protocol properly ordered, written
in the language of protocols, broken up into headings. This
is my own protocol” (p. 32). As much at least as he is inspired
by the Party, for him Ackerman is an object of love, veneration
and fear. The two poles are represented by Ackerman, the ac­
tive initiator, and Sergei, the local representative obedient to
the diktat of the central organization.
We may ask why it is necessary in the first place that there
may be a written record (where this book comes from). In his
official capacity, Sergei insists on it: “From a Marxist, historical
standpoint, there must be a documentary basis for any activism”
(p. 54). Ackerman, the creator of the split, seeks to ginger up
the local revolution which, in his view, is going stale, and involve
the Arabs. He wants to get in on the riots that were brewing
in Jaffa in 1921. Sergei, on the other hand, working within
the framework of orders from Moscow, wants to suppress a
force which he thinks would get out of control. The time for
this, he argues (as would the central committee), has not yet
come. O f course, it all revolves in the end around the question
of power. Who will exercise control? This is also the interface
between the public, historical and the personal sphere. The hero
as rebel, but loyal to another. Who is that to be, Sergei or
Ackerman, and, more significantly, for what reason? We see,
at least by implication, through his actions, how his feelings be­
come embroiled. He declares of himself, to one of the women
in his life, Mirabelle, that he is totally isolated, that he has no
home, no income, that he must therefore remain unattached
and cannot therefore commit himself to her: “I cannot of my
nature and in the nature of the work I do sit in one place”
(p. 87). He argues that he is very much alone, and that he must
remain so. The reader may see things differently. Perhaps it
is not so much that he must remain alone, as that his emotional
attachment is involved elsewhere, and that he is frustrated by
a confusion of love, loyalty and duty.