Soon, it seems, I will have to move from Jerusalem
to somewhere between Mevaseret and Bet Shemesh, on the border between
the Israeli entity and the Jewish entity. I will be sure to build half
of my new house to the west of the line, and the other to the east,
since I have learned recently from pundits and honored writers that
there is a necessary contradiction between these commitments. Thus when
I pray I will face Yerushalayim, but when I write about the need to
evacuate Hevron, I will look out to the coastal plain, since all agree
that only someone cut off from the Jewish heritage could possibly prefer
peace to graves.
On my bookshelves in the Jewish area I will put
the texts which, in my primitive manner, I describe to my children as
holy scriptures. In the Israeli area I will put my copy of "The Odyssey"
which I read to my child every night, as befits a Hellenist completely
detached from Judaism. As to the books of Agnon or of Yeshayahu
Leibowitz, they will have to be precisely on the borderline. I could
also burn them, for there is no use for them in the current situation.
My family and I will thus be refugees, but we
won't be alone. Nearby will live the Bar Ilan professor who teaches the
philosophy of Levinas at my shul each shabbat, as well as the Rabbis who
visited the family of an Arab child who was killed, and Reform rabbis
who try to get government funding for their institutions. On the border
will also live people without a systematic ideology, such as my
neighbors who turn off their TV while they make kiddush on Friday night,
the women who come to the mikve down the block wearing tight jeans, as
well as the hesder soldiers who ignored the orders of their rabbis and
accepted the authority of a democratically elected government.
On the border will live all who don't fit the easy
definitions of "secular" or "religious", even if they use those terms
with some degree of discomfort.
As scientific studies and real life suggests, most
of the nation is on that border.
I am not describing this vision only because of
Yoram Kanyuk. On the other side, Yisrael Harel [an ideologue of the
settler movement and former editor of "Nekudah"] sees the debate on
Hevron as one between Israelis and Jews. Even though he prefers
preserving Israel as a "bi-national" state, he reflects the feeling that
permissive and Western Tel-Aviv has nothing in common with the
rootedness of the inhabitants of Judea and Samaria.
There is much irony in this. Even for those who
bemoan the fact, Israel today is a liberal post-ideological state. But
for those interested in waging a kulturkampf, there must be total
unanimity. The state can only be a secular community completely detached
from Judaism, or religious -nationalistic. If the issue cannot be
resolved, they say, let us solve the matter by partition.
The problem with this "solution" is not that is
denies "Jewish unity". Thank God, such unity is non-existent. The
problem is the notion that one can do away with dissent and divergence
and create a uniform "we". This is contrary to democratic and liberal
thought. The mistake is in the illusion that there must be unity in a
person's soul, that he must be either one thing or the other, free from
contradictions or dialectic. This type of consistency is often given
other names: "extremism", "fanaticism", "simplistic thinking."
As for me, I prefer to live on the borderline.