Vol. 17 No. 1 1950 - page 96

94
PARTISAN REVIEW
Zionist achievement, if only because it has destroyed "Mr. Abramowitz."
The new Israelites are at least departures from that archetype that has
haunted Europe-and Koestler. The "Jewish neurosis," with its "psy–
chosomatic" manifestation, the Jewish face, has been the product of
those trapped in a world that rejected them. Now, with someplace to
go, things will be different-even for those who do not choose to go
there. It is to this proposition that Koestler dedicates his book.
Those ex-Jews who prefer can now leave for the State of Israel;
those who prefer to remain in the West may (indeed,
must,
if not for
their own sake for that of their children) assimilate. The total meaning
of Jewishness has been subsumed into a political fact, and to remain out–
side of Palestine still murmuring, "Next year in Jerusalem!" is senti–
mentalism, a lie. Koestler's position is made easy by his assumption that
the J ewish religion, whose only function had become the fostering of
the hope of Return, is now dead, except as an allegiance to the festering
past and the abandoned ghetto-the one Rabbi with whom he reports
a conversation, symbolically enough spoke Hebrew with so gross a Yid–
dish accent that Koestler needed an interpreter. What was worthwhile
in Judaism has already been assimilated, he tells us, into the "Judaeo–
Christian" tradition!
Even if one subscribes to the notion that the Jewish Religion is
now only an elaborate system for legally outsmarting a set of meaning–
less ancient taboos-and this is the view of Koestler, though he reports
with scorn Ben-Gurion's charge that he is ignorant of the Jewish tradi–
tion-it is difficult to believe that the Western Jew would be permitted
now or in the foreseeable future to slough off his condition in a unilateral
act. Koestler assumes that antisemitism is simply a Gentile response
to the J ew's
willed
separateness, a separateness to which he had some
right before a free Return was possible.
What, first of all, is the Jew to assimilate to? An anti-clerical Koest–
ler cannot of course suggest a conversion to some Christian Church,
merely a subscription to the "Judaeo-Christian tradition" as a French–
man, American or Hungarian (in the form of Capitalism? Stalinism?
De GaulIism?). But there seems evidence that the non-Christian J ew
will in a Christian world be inevitably stigmatized. I find a corrective
to Koestler's simplicity in the Jungian theory that the image of the Jew
objectifies as the Other that element of the gentile unconscious which
rejects the ego-system of Christianity.
At any rate, I am sure that the Jew in exile will be forced to main–
tain his negative Jewishness against Christian hostility; and I would hope
further that the establishment of Israel might encourage him to create
1...,86,87,88,89,90,91,92,93,94,95 97,98,99,100
Powered by FlippingBook