David Grossman, A Horse Walks into a Bar, Translated by Jessica Cohen
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It is said that the old Peter Sellers movie, The Mouse that Roared, is based on an Israeli joke. The movie was about a tiny country that goes to war with the United States expecting to lose, thereby assuring itself of big Marshall Plan-like support to build its economy. But, of course, it wins.
In its infancy – indeed, immediately after its recognition by the United Nations, Israel was under siege. Under attack from five Arab nations, many Jews, native-born and immigrant, feared the worse. But the Defense Forces were triumphant. Not only did the Israelis win decisively but twenty years later, after being attacked again, in six days they conquered East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai. Rallying to the battle cry of “Never Again!,” a clear reference to the Holocaust, Israel became the strongest nation in the area and in many ways a model of a new kind of prideful, pluralistic nationalism, albeit with a number of unresolved issues.
What has all that have to do...