The stuff of life
John Boyne on the Last Stories of William Trevor
INDAYSTOCOME AVRAHAM BURG Nation Books, £22.99
Israeli Avraham Burg came from a traditional, religious, Zionist background and attended a school where he was desperately unhappy. His student group was caught between the secularists on the one hand and the ultra-Orthodox on the other. Following a tour of the newly conquered territories after the 1967 war, his father asked his mother “a question that has remained unresolved since”: What would they do with 2,000,000 Arabs? His father’s generation “never made any genuine and committed effort to find a real answer”. Burg laments the lurch to the right that occurred after 1967 and the building of the settlements that “have made Israel less democratic and more nationalist, capitalist, brutal and religious”. Racism, he believes, “has eaten away the Israeli body and soul”. One of the greatest problems of the left in Israel is that it has become deeply conservative; it’s devoid of new ideas, unlike the right. Burg’s vision of real racial and gender equality for all Arabs and Jews, the separation of religion from the state and the fair distribution of resources offers real hope for peace.