Friday, August 04, 2006

I find it impossible to write these days: words seem meaningless, and of little use. So I turn to other people's words. Ronit Matalon, my favourite Israeli writer, in Haaretz today:

A. from the store that sells building materials in my Tel Aviv neighborhood, stopped saying hello to me the morning after I spoke out against the war on television. We met at the usual street corner, at more or less the regular time, and A. turned his gaze forward or sideways, avoiding my eyes. We had never talked, A. and I, about “the situation,” or about anything else of substance. The soft, salient absence of content in our daily encounter and the measured, mutual, almost wordless, greeting created the cordial pact of a fraternity of acquaintances and neighbors that existed between us − a muted thread in the precious weave of the everyday.

This everyday cordial pact between A. and me, between every person and every A., is one of the elements that forcefully grabs the hyperactive kicking feet of the generalized concept of “homeland” and places it on some sort of ground, turns it into a non-generalized, concrete “home.” The two don’t always go together − “homeland” and “home” − and sometimes, indeed, they are mutually contradictory, especially when the homeland allies itself almost absolutely with a frothingly patriotic ”We’ll show them” sort of pride.

In times of controversial wars, this gap between the language of the “homeland” and the language of the “home” widens and becomes almost a gulf. At such a time, the “home,” it seems, must defend its existence in the face of the “homeland,” especially when the latter puts on its most militant show in the form of irresponsible, patriotic, sentimental talk − sentimentalism that is liable to justify and perhaps even foment crimes of various degrees.

Read the rest here.


At 1:47 PM, Blogger waiting for the barbarians said...

A very interesting article- beautifully written.


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