The Jewish Intellectual in Israel
DURING a short stay in New York last year, I was invited by a group of Jewish students at Columbia University to speak to them about literary life in Israel. I agreed to come, and I prepared a descriptive lecture full of information about recent trends and developments in Israeli literature, which is what I had supposed they wanted to hear. But after talking for about half an hour, I began to sense a certain restlessness in the audience, and I suddenly realized that these young students were growing impatient with all the facts I was feeding them. They had expected something quite different, something more stimulating, something that would raise the big questions about the role of art in society and that would make the deep connections between Israeli literature and the state of the modern world. They wanted me to summon up a total picture of Israeli cultural life, one that would help them formulate their own personal relation to Israel-and perhaps to everything else under the sun as well. In short, they wanted the truth, and they did not consider it unreasonable to expect truth to be revealed in one short lecture.
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