Thursday, 31 March 2016


ME: So in the story, Leila goes into a cafe in Jerusalem to meet Joseph - she is in love, excited, and the whole world smells of desperation, fear and death. This man personifies that.

IVAN: A little info that Irvin told me: the Jews who came from the camps to Israel were looked down upon.

ME: Yes, they were grim reminder of "defeat". The man in the cafe, is a camp survivor. Imagine how uncomfortable their presence would have been.


ME: Imagine Israel in 47, with people still staggering from the war,
weary of war. And these living revenants of atrocity demanding reparation, reminding them that this is not the time to be young, to laugh or dance. It is time to fight. Never to forgive, never to forget


ME: Jews seen as "victims" when they wanted to be warriors. Maccabees

IVAN: Yes, how you know that?

ME: I know, I was there. The survivors were the archetypal image of the passive, patient Jew

IVAN: Yes, exactly, yes

ME: Hiding in plain sight to survive. The Sabra-to-be wanted to spit in the eye of fate, show the sinews of war to the world.

IVAN: The sabra called them "soap"

ME: Ugly, and so they were again victims where they thought to be home

IVAN: "Soap" from the rumour that Germans made soap out of the bodies

ME: The Germans did?

IVAN: It's not true.

ME: They didn't?

IVAN: No, but it was an ugly rumour and became an ugly insult.

ME: They made mattresses from hair, and lampshades from skin

IVAN: Yes, probably they did.

ME: "Wasting no part of the animal"...

IVAN: Yes.

ME: Odd that when I slipped into Leila's skin that repulsion for this man was so strong. The strong despise the weak because they fear discovering a true reflection of themselves

IVAN: YES! So true.

ME: Yet to survive, imagine the strength you would need. To live one more day when death would be such bliss. Ivan, I wish I could speak to your friend

IVAN: Yes incredible.

ME: I think this man in the cafe is a story wanting to be told. Waking up in Hell, struggling to live whispering to yourself each day:
"Next year, in Jerusalem".


ME: And then you get there... You cross the half the world that punished you for your faith, dreaming of a homecoming and there they turn their faces in derision.

IVAN: Yes, "soap".

ME: I think surviving cruelty at hateful hands might be easier, that being turned from warmth by your own people

IVAN: I think it would be very painful.

ME: So many stories about the Holocaust, has anyone told this one?

IVAN: I don't know.

ME: I think they would hate me for it. Israel has profited so richly from the Holocaust.


ME: It would be very embarrassing to admit giving the survivors such a miserly welcome. Martyrs are so much more lovable than survivors

IVAN: Yes. You can speak to him, to Irving. He has skype

ME: OK. Will you tell him what the story wants? That sounds so odd!

IVAN: I will ask him to speak to you.

ME: Everyone tells the story of the camps, I want to tell the after:
How bitter survival tastes when there is no welcome for the prodigal son. Oh, I forget! The Prodigal son is a Jesus-story. Do you know it?

IVAN: Roughly.

ME: A man has two sons

IVAN: Why do I have tears?

ME: Because truth hurts.

IVAN: Yes.

ME: Two sons, see? So one stays and works his Father's land, the other asks for his inheritance and travels to far, richer lands. does that not sound the story of Israel?

IVAN: Very much so.

ME: So the son travels far, and falls from prosperity into disgrace One day, scrabbling in the dirt and fighting the pigs for scraps, he thinks: "I have fallen to such misery. I shall return to my Father's house, for even the lowest of his servants has dignity in service and a warm place by the hearth" And so he returns, walking far on bleeding feet, and his Father sees him, and his love recognises him -though he is much changed - and he runs to him. The son kneels and speaks: "Father forgive me, I have sinned against Heaven and in your eyes and am no longer worthy to be called your son, but let me serve you as your meanest servant"

But the Father raised him up and dressed him in a fine robe and had his servants kill the fatted calf that all might partake of his joy.

The dutiful son who had been steadfast and true berated his Father:
"Your son travelled among the Gentiles, spilling his wealth and seed on barren ground, yet you receive him with open arms!" and the Father said; "Beloved, rejoice with me. Your brother was blind and was given sight, he was dead and now he lives"


ME: I am sorry those were not the Jesus-words but my interpretation of them.

IVAN: Good enough, I think.

ME: It is an interesting parable applied to the Israel situation of that time, the post war.

IVAN: Yes, very!

ME: The Jews - the good son - who stayed, working the arid land, doing their duty before God...and the Prodigals returning.

IVAN: It's very appropriate.

ME: Ah...Jesus was a good Jew. How well he knew us and the mean and twisted jealousy of our tiny hearts.

IVAN: Yes.

ME: I am not surprised they killed him. The enlightened are seldom welcomed

IVAN: Me neither, and you know, they still behave the same way now.

From "Conversations with Ivan Shapiro"

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