The stuff of life

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - PATRICK FREYNE -

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.

BRIAN MAYE

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