21 July 2008

The only game in town

The essay Meditations on Israel is not for "My Israel - right or wrong" crowd, nor is it for "No Israel - right or wrong" crowd, of course. In short, any buffoon who has never doubted anything in the comfortable collection of his/her petrified beliefs, is cordially invited to quit here and now.

Toronto, 2007. As I look out the window today, 63 years later, I no longer see Hitler or his soldiers. Neither do I see his handiwork, as I did in 1945, outside Budapest's ghetto, as frozen corpses were being stacked on handcarts like cords of wood. But I do see his shadow. I have never stopped seeing it all these years -- first, shrinking after the war until the late 1960s, then beginning to loom again.
I have tried to find a quote that will best summarize the author's (George Jonas, a Hungarian-born Canadian writer) point of view . But it's a futile endeavor, the essay is there to be read in its entirety. Reflecting on the long way George, the Hungarian Jewish youngster, torn between "Zionist uncle" and "non-Zionist father", made to Toronto (via the bloody Hungarian 1956), the essay is filled by reflections on Israel and the role it plays in his life.

In my opinion, the reflections are no less important than the conclusion. But it's up to the reader, of course, and for the lazy and impatient here comes the conclusion:
...my father thought Hitler was a bad dream, while my uncle felt that Hitler, in whatever guise, was a recurring reality in Jewish existence. It seems to me uncle isn't just ahead on points: he is close to scoring a knockout. In which case Zion isn't an option, a luxury, a tourist destination for the Diaspora, but a lifeline, a defibrillator, the only game in town.
The essay won the gold award at the National Magazine Awards Gala in Toronto. Terry Glavin, via whose post I got to the essay, won a silver award in the same category with his brilliant Looking For Mr. Bing. Which is a mandatory read too.