Some of you know that I have worried over my connection or lack of connection to the land of Israel for some time. Until I discovered precisely the difficulty. I had somehow expected a miraculous resonance to occur simply when I placed my hand upon a wall, but that's not how you fall in love with a country. At least it's not how I fall in love with a country. I fall in love with a country through learning of its people and its heritage through books. In fact, I can fall in love with most anything or anyone if only I learn to see them deeply enough.
In any case, I discovered the book when it comes to Israel and the IDF. Because think about that for a moment. Here are all these high-school graduates who have mandatory service in the army. What is that like, to be placed together with people you don't know and suddenly have to live with them? What about the clash if you are Sephardi or Ashkenazi, religious or secular, and so on and so forth? What does living in a country that has enforced service do to a person? How does it affect them? I've been fascinated by various friends' accounts of the IDF. Sure, there's the version we all know- glory and ideological parties. But what about the truth? When you're down in the muck and grit and grime, when you're actually there, what do you get up to? How do you relax or alternatively stay alert? Are you ashamed of aspects of yourself or not? What do you see through the prism of that experience?
A Separate Peace, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Red Badge of Courage...I've always loved war books, the kind that got inside of people and showed me how they felt and what they thought in terms of their experience. And then I found this book. You see, what Tim O' Brien's The Things They Carried did for Vietnam is what Yehoshua Kenaz's Infiltration does for the IDF. It's remarkable and powerful and resonates; the blood pulsates in time to his writing. And for the outsider looking in, such as I am, it creates precisely that connection to Israeli society that I've been lacking, a glimpse of understanding into the people who comprise that world.