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At Ease in Zion

- Abstract

ALFRED NORTH WHITEHEAD, that singularly clear mind, observed that even in Jesus’ evasive “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s,” one sees that the Jews had no independent state to govern; “the absence of such responsibility has been a characteristic of the Jews for centuries. That is one reason for their unpopularity.”

We are certainly more “popular” now -especially with ourselves. A. and I came here in the plane of the Jewish state; under the great blue and white shield of David we rode the skies from New York to Paris to Rome to Lydda; and though even at twenty thousand feet some details, like a boiled chicken at dinner time, are all too familiar, “responsibility” puts them into a new setting and gives them a new look-as witness the immigration inspector at Lydda airport who in the exact duplicate of a British officer’s uniform and a British officer’s handlebar mustaches, makes little cracks in Yiddish to relieve the impatient, baggage-laden, and weary crowd. Even the local bobby-soxers running and squealing after Harry Belafonte in the slightly too posh hotel complete with pool remind one that Israel is now an established center of international show business-while Helena Rubinstein’s splendid museum assures us that here, too, we have the haute couture of modern art. The blissful normality of La Dolce Vita in Hebrew! The established international hotel style that serves as well in Tel Aviv as in Caracas and Omaha! No wonder that Shimon V., the burly taxi driver outside our hotel who looks and talks like a barrel-chested Lancashire trade-union secretary, boasts to us that he never gets a foreign visitor into his cab without working on him to settle in Israel. He rides us around Tel Aviv shouting, roaring, and boasting about his conquests of Canadian businessmen in a tone that plainly says: “I am at home and I am normal! We are at home here and we are all normal! I am the most normal taxi driver in Israel and Israel is the only place for normal people!”

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