Saturday, July 19, 2014

Noted: Jean Genet

From Prisoner of Love (1986), Genet's memoir of his time spent with the Palestinians in the early 1970s (translation by Barbara Bray):
I'm not at all sure that when the Congress at Basle, after considering Argentina and Uganda, finally decided that the Jews should settle in Palestine, the choice was divinely inspired. After all, what the Jews call the Promised Land was promised first of all to one vagabond who'd walked all the way from Chaldea and another who'd come from Egypt. But the country known as the Holy Land is famous because of the events recorded in the New Testament. The Jews ought to hate it rather than love it. It gave birth to those who became their worst enemies, starting with St. Paul. Without him and Jesus, who would remember Jerusalem, Nazareth and the carpenter, Bethlehem or the Sea of  Galilee? The Gospels are full of them.
"The English Protestants knew the place from the Old Testament too."
"Have you ever had a good look at stuffed animals? The geography of the Old Testament is stuffed. Nature plays hardly any part in Jewish history. Except for the bits about the exiles. They mention Ninevah and Ur, Egypt and Sinai. But they never come alive like the Sea of Galilee, or even Golgotha." (p.282)