By Michel Warchawski
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Extra resources for On the Border
How pathetic, by contrast, was the contemporary founding congress of the short-lived Movement for Peace and Security, where prominent intellectuals of the left tried to organize against this fanatic expansionism, insisting that, although the territories were 1. Commando 101: a unit of the Israeli army formed in the early 1950s to carry out punitive actions and establish new and non-conventional norms of combat. For a long time Ben Gurion would deny the existence of this unit as well as its operations, including the massacre at Kibya (15 October 1953), with 69 dead, mostly women and children.
Confronted with the new arrivals, the Jews of Polish origin behaved like the natives. They looked at the latter with the same surprise and condescension that they themselves had been the targets of some decades earlier. Perhaps because I was the grandson of immigrants myself, or perhaps out of plain rebelliousness, I at once felt closer to these young people coming from Agadir or Oran than to the children of the bourgeois families of the Avenue des Vosges. To the astonishment of the good folks of the community, I chose to cross the sociocultural border that separated me from the working-class districts of the suburbs and the boarding schools.
For, in spite of its diversity, there is something powerful uniting Jerusalem and its inhabitants. Israelis from the interior can identify someone coming from the holy city by the way they pronounce certain words or the way their children play hopscotch. The capital of Israel, as it was called stubbornly by the brochures of the time in the absence of all logical reality, was really no more than a provincial town where everybody knew each other, whether they were from Kurdistan or Bessarabia, or part of the native Sephardic elite, settled in Palestine for generations.