Monday, January 08, 2007

Tilley vs. Medad - Round 3

Round 1.

Round 2.

Round 3:-


I believe you are the writer who mentioned the "revenants" idea, to whom an LRB reader responded with the wonderful comment agreeing with your sentiments and proposing returning to the British Isles after a millennium to reclaim his ancestral land.(*) I have nothing to add to that wonderful letter -- it was spot on. Except that your implicit equation of Jews and Zionism is, as you well know, entirely false. Many Jews are horrified by what Israel is doing and consider the entire project of creating a Jewish state a disaster for Jews. And not just the Neturei Karta, either -- secular folks, including the "not in my name" Jewish movements all around the world. I know you probably consider these Jews "self-hating" but they consider you simply nuts.


Yes, I'm the "revenant" man.

And yes, the correspondent who mentioned the British parallel was a bit too clever for his own good. You see for almost all the years of being exiled Jews had consistently attempted and mostly succeeded in returning to the Land of Israel under terrible conditions including difficult travel conditions, oppressive foreign rule, physical and economic conditions in the country. Under Roman, Persian, Byzantine, Muslim, Crusader, Berber, Mameluke, Turkish and then British rule, Jews returned, established homes and developed meager livelihoods. They never broke the link. That's the difference that cynical people miss.

And that's why your reference to the "non-existing equation of Jews and Zionism" is not a matter of self-hating Jews but of ignorant Jews or those who simply don't want anything to do with the national ethos of the Jewish character.

I don't think I'm nuts, if you want to stoop to that sort of name-calling but rather one who reviews, analyzes history and seeks to comprehend just what the role of the Jewish people is in the march of civilization. If you seek to travel a parallel road, that's your private decision. But please, don't blame me for drawing your attention to your own errors of judgment.

(*) To be fair, here's that letter:-

May 27, 2004
Revenant and Illusion

The current issue of the London Review of Books includes a letter concerning the Middle East that is worth considering:

Yisrael Medad asks that we call the Jewish settlers in the West Bank revenants, as befits 'persons who have returned after a long hiatus to their ancestral homes' (Letters, 6 May). I know just how he feels. My family lost everything in the North of England in 1070, when William the Conqueror ethnically cleansed the landowners, and it's been annoying us ever since. If Medad would meet me next Thursday in Barnard Castle, with a few hundred of his armed friends, we could finally see justice done. It's tough perhaps to the non-revenants, who've been there for only 934 years, but we won't charge them back rent and there are plenty of people who speak their language next door. I'm sure they'll adjust and find other places to live, among their own kind.

Nicholas Blanton
Shepherdstown, West Virginia

No comments: