I won’t lie to you. Reading David Grossman’s To the End of the Land wasn’t easy. It’s a long, difficult read. But there are 2 1/2 pages that I found so searing, so extraordinary, that they would have been enough to justify the entire book/purchase (or, as we say, dayenu).
Here’s a snippet:
What do you tell a six-year-old boy, a pip-squeak Ofer, who one morning, while you’re taking him to school, holds you close on the bike and asks in a cautious voice, “Mommy, who’s against us?” And you try to find out exactly what he means, and he answers impatiently, “Who hates us in the world? Which countries are against us?” And of course you want to keep his world innocent and free of hatred, and you tell him that those who are against us don’t always hate us, and that we just have a long argument with some of the countries around us about all sorts of things, just like children in school sometimes have arguments and even fights. But his little hands tighten around your stomach, and he demands the names of the countries that are against us, and there is an urgency in his voice and in his sharp chin that digs into your back, and so you start to name them: “Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon. But not Egypt–we have peace with them!” you say cheerfully. “We had lots of wars with them, but now we’ve made up.”….”Is Egypt really our friend?” “Not really,” you admit, “they still don’t completely want to be our our friends.” “So they’re against us,” he solemnly decrees, and immediately asks if there are other “countries of Arabs,” and he doesn’t let let up until you name them all: “Saudi Arabia, Libya, Sudan, Kuwait, and Yemen.” You can feel his mouth learning the names behind your back, and you add Iran–not exactly Arabs, but not exactly our friends, either. After a pause he asks softly if there are any more, and you mumble, “Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria,” and then you remember Indonesia and Malaysia, Pakistan and Afghanistan–none of those stans sounds so great to you–and here we are at school, sweetie! When you help him get off the bike seat, he feels heavier than usual.
And this: (more…)