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Operation Shylock : A Confession (Vintage International)

jan peczkis|Sunday, February 23, 2014

Jews Massively Moving Back to Poland--in the Jewish Imagination, February 4, 2014 This review is from: Operation Shylock : A Confession (Vintage International) (Paperback) Many reviews already describe the main features of this book, and my review tackles it from a different angle. By way of introduction, some Poles have been concerned with a potential erosion of Poland's sovereignty owing to growing Jewish influence over Poland, and some Poles have gone as far as suggesting that Jews could massively come back to live in Poland, and even create a latter-day Judeopolonia.

4.0 out of 5 stars

A clarification: What is discussed here is not the emigration of SOME Israeli Jews to other nations--an unremarkable fact. For example, click on Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, and read the Peczkis review. What IS discussed in Roth's book is the hypothetical MASSIVE emigration of Israeli Jews to other nations.

The author, Philip Roth, is Jewish. Although this work is fiction, it is interesting to see a convergence of the Jewish imagination and the Polish imagination in terms of Jews returning to Europe in general, and Poland in particular, in considerable numbers. What's more, a fictional character comes to Poland to discuss, with then-President Lech Walesa, the impending resettlement of Jews to Poland. (pp. 31-32, 156). [Taken to an extreme, this recounts the accusations, by some Poles, of President Lech Walesa being willing to sell Poland out to foreign influences, and even of Walesa himself being a crypto-Jew.]

Why would Jews want to effectively turn the clock back and massively return to Europe? To begin with, Ashkenazi Jews retain a European orientation, and this orientation is stronger than affinity of Jews even for the United States. Speaking through a character, Roth comments, "There might even seem to you a much more necessary and profound connection between the Jew and Budapest, the Jew and Prague, than the one between the Jew and Cincinnati and the Jew and Dallas." (p. 43). He also asks, "Are we to be driven for all time from the continent that nourished the flourishing Jewish worlds of Warsaw, of Vilna, of Riga, of Prague, of Berlin, of Lvov, of Budapest, of Bucharest, of Salonica and Rome because of HIM (Hitler)?" (p. 32).

Originally, Zionism had developed as a reaction to European anti-Semitism, and now has outlived its usefulness. The threat of exterminatory anti-Semitism now comes from the Islamic, not European, world. (p. 32). In Roth's imagination, the massive migratory return of Jews to Europe is a form of Diasporism, the opposite of Zionism.

The removal of Jews from Israel would eliminate the threat of annihilation they now face there, as well as the danger of Jews permanently losing their moral foundations if they had to use nuclear weapons to stave off annihilation. (p. 239). In Roth's imagination, the state of Israel would shrink to its 1948 borders, and eventually only Jews who had lived in an Islamic cultural matrix would live there. (p. 42). This would create a lasting peace between Arab and Jew.

In common with many Jewish and non-Jewish authors, Philip Roth, through a character, contends that the promotion of the Holocaust in the USA exists primarily to maintain the notion of Jews as victims, and thus to reinforce American support for Israel. (pp. 132-134). He also focuses on the then-current trial of the Ukrainian John Demjanjuk in Israel, and believes that it was primarily a spectacle intended for the same ends. (p. 134).
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