Tales of the Israeli Diaspora

March 29 2016

In her short-story collection entitled The Best Place on Earth, recently published in the U.S., Ayelet Tsabari writes about Israelis who have left their native land, Israelis who have returned there from abroad, and Israelis who have stayed home. Adam Kirsch writes in his review:

[E]ach story in the book comes at the question of Israeliness from a slightly different angle. Several of the characters we meet are, like the author, expats in Canada; others are spiritual seekers trying to find themselves in India. But even the ones who stay in Israel are haunted by a sense of belonging elsewhere. Tsabari writes about Yemenite immigrants who cherish the old customs (her own background is Yemenite), a Filipina nurse who sends money home to her daughter, and a girl who is homesick for the Sinai settlement where she grew up, now part of Egypt. To be Israeli, she suggests, is to feel the tug of war between Israel and abroad, no matter where you live. In such a young country, virtually everyone can call somewhere else home. . . .

In each case, Tsabari shows that Israeliness is not an answer but a question, one that must be continually posed even when it seems to have been left behind. In this sense, Tsabari’s stories are in the main tradition of Jewish literature, which is similarly obsessed with the meaning of identity, the way it is inherited, and how it shapes and misshapes the soul. To read Tsabari is to see Israeliness, which was intended as a remedy for the ills of Diasporic Jewishness, turn into a new kind of Diasporic identity. It is a fascinating transformation, and The Best Place on Earth may be the herald of a whole new genre of Jewish literature.

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More about: Arts & Culture, Canadian Jewry, Israel, Israeli literature, Jewish literature, Yeridah

 

Terror Returns to Israel

Nov. 28 2022

On Wednesday, a double bombing in Jerusalem left two dead, and many others injured—an attack the likes of which has not been seen since 2016. In a Jenin hospital, meanwhile, armed Palestinians removed an Israeli who had been injured in a car accident, reportedly murdering him in the process, and held his body hostage for two days. All this comes as a year that has seen numerous stabbings, shootings, and other terrorist attacks is drawing to a close. Yaakov Lappin comments:

Unlike the individual or small groups of terrorists who, acting on radical ideology and incitement to violence, picked up a gun, a knife, or embarked on a car-ramming attack, this time a better organized terrorist cell detonated two bombs—apparently by remote control—at bus stops in the capital. Police and the Shin Bet have exhausted their immediate physical searches, and the hunt for the perpetrators will now move to the intelligence front.

It is too soon to know who, or which organization, conducted the attack, but it is possible to note that in recent years, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has taken a lead in remote-control-bombing terrorism. Last week, a car bomb that likely contained explosives detonated by remote control was discovered by the Israel Defense Forces in Samaria, after it caught fire prematurely. In August 2019, a PFLP cell detonated a remote-control bomb in Dolev, seventeen miles northwest of Jerusalem, killing a seventeen-year-old Israeli girl and seriously wounding her father and brother. Members of that terror cell were later arrested.

With the Palestinian Authority (PA) losing its grip in parts of Samaria to armed terror gangs, and the image of the PA at an all-time low among Palestinians, in no small part due to corruption, nepotism, and its violation of human rights . . . the current situation does not look promising.

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More about: Israeli Security, Jerusalem, Palestinian terror