Nothing is more intellectually dishonest than pretending to talk about books in order to unfurl a political banner.
Earlier today the Literary Saloon proudly announced a new book that will be “Exhibit A in the case against Israel.” The book is a new English translation of S. Yizhar’s 1949 novella Khirbet Khizeh. And the quotation is from a review of the book in the Israeli daily Haaretz.
To their credit, the Saloonists provide a link to Noah Efron’s review of Nicholas de Lange and Yaacob Dweck’s new English translation. To their eternal shame, however, they quote Efron only selectively for the purpose of distorting his argument.
Here is the passage they quote:
From now on, it will be Exhibit A in the case against Israel: positive proof that from the very start, like today, Israel has violently, sometimes murderously, displaced innocent Palestinians.
The book invites this. Khirbet Khizeh retains an immediacy that lends it straight-from-today’s-front-page relevance.
In short order, the horror I felt gave way to a peculiar pride.
If Khirbet Khizeh demonstrated that Israelis were not above exiling innocents, it also showed that we Israelis were not afraid to admit our crimes, either. We were told that beginning in 1964, the novella had been included in the list of canonical texts on the high school matriculation exam in literature. Not only, then, had one of Israel’s most esteemed writers produced a work of searing self-criticism, but a generation of teens were also forced to read it before they themselves enlisted. Unconscionable acts had been committed, I concluded, but Israelis did not lack a conscience. Long live Yiddischer rectitude.
That is what the Literary Saloon does by foreshortening his remarks. For Efron does not conclude that Khirbet Khizeh is “Exhibit A in the case against Israel.” He goes on immediately—I mean, in the very next sentence—to praise the new afterword by Professor David Shulman of Hebrew University: