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Journey to Nowhere: One Woman Looks for the…

Journey to Nowhere: One Woman Looks for the Promised Land

by Eva Figes

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This is a memoir filled with parallel personal stories, but also makes controversial negative commentary about the creation of the State of Israel and the Zionist movement.

Figes discusses her family's exit from Nazi Germany in 1939, her adjustment to England, her problematic relationship with her mother. But at the centre of the story is Edith, her family’s housemaid, who is left behind in Germany. Edith survives the war in hiding and is convinced to move to Palestine - here she is horrified by the hate between people and the general open dislike of the German Jew. She moves to England in 1948 to live with Eva’s family.

There are three main themes to this book:

* the difficulties that Eva experiences while living with her mother after the war (she states that these days she would have been classified as an abusive mother),
* the story of Edith and her experience in Nazi Germany and Palestine, and
* the interpretation that Israel was a state created mainly by the US to funnel unwanted Jewish ‘displaced persons’ after the war, rather than the more traditional idea that Israel was born out of a guilt for the atrocities of the second WW.

Figes points out many contradictions – for example that living in Israel is not a safe-haven for the Jewish people, who are surrounded by hostile nations. She also points out that the terrorism visited on the world today by Muslim nations has similarities to the Zionist terrorist past.

Her arguments are compelling, but lacking in detailed completeness or total coherence. The cover blurbers repeatedly use the work ‘polemic’ to describe her ideas, and indeed this is the first time that I have encountered arguments against Zionism and the creation of the State of Israel by a Jewish person.

Figes is angry and accusatory. Her main villians; Harry Truman and the US government, the Zionists, and the Nazi collaborators who, she controversially suggests, had worked with the Zionists before the war (mainly Eichmann). It is an eye-opening opinion.

Reading this, I am now prompted to push away some of my Americo-centric biases. This is not a perfectly balanced and rigorously argued point of view, but a very brave and courageous one. I doubt that it will be taken up by a publisher in the US (Granta published it). She busts open a topic that really could only be presented by a Jewish writer who lived through the turbulence of mid-20th century history. I will have take my reading further afield. ( )
3 vote kiwidoc | Jul 26, 2009 |
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'Journey To Nowhere' is a profoundly disturbing story of personal tragedy, but also an account of how international complacency at the end of the century's worst catastrophe has led first to making the lives of thousands of displaced European Jews infinitely worse, and then to the devastating repercussions felt today. Originally published: 2008.… (more)

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