Etgar Keret: “Israel divided into two tribes, the Israeli and the Jewish”

The writer, author of “Seven years of happiness”, comments on the result of the elections, while his exhibition “Inside out” opened in Berlin, between memory, literature and contemporary art.

Israel is divided into two tribes that hate each other, the liberal “Israeli” and the conservative “Jewish”. but now extreme political polarization is a worrying “global phenomenon”. To say this in the aftermath of the vote that saw the new success of Benyamin Netanyahu, together with his religious and ultra-right allies, is the Israeli writer Etgar Keret, joined by Adnkronos in Tel Aviv, returning from Berlin where a his exhibition that mixes literature, objects and contemporary art, to tell about his childhood and the memory of his mother.

“If I have to try to define the two opposing tribes of Israeli society and politics I could say that there is the ‘Israeli’ tribe that sees Israel as a country like any other, whose main values ​​are democracy, equality and freedom of speech. The opposite tribe is the ‘Jewish’ one who sees in the Jewish identity and belief the backbone and the only reason for the existence of the country “, says Keret, a keen and ironic observer of feelings and everyday life in his short story books.

The two camps hate each other more than Iran and Syria fear

“While the liberal Israeli tribe aims for greater equality and representation of minorities, the Bibi tribe – Keret continues using the nickname of Netanyahu – consists of parties that are openly homophobic and misogynistic (the first thing I heard from the Religious Zionism party of Ben Gvir was hoping to cancel gay pride after the elections.) These two tribes seem to hate and fear each other more than Iran, Syria or any other enemy of the state. sees in the other, liberal or conservative, ideas that could lead to the fall or destruction of Israel. I believe that if Israel is not able to change and create a different, more inclusive and empathic dialogue, we will continue to deal with two different entities which occupy the same space, but have little in common “.

According to Keret, the problem, however, is not only Israeli, but global, “it also happens in the United States, in Brazil, the disagreement in society crystallizes in two fields, both aggressive against each other”. “It’s a binary vision, anyone who is not with me is an enemy”, continues the writer, recalling how this lack of dialogue was very strong during the covid regarding vaccines. And it is a phenomenon also fueled by a policy made up of Twitter and Tik Tok “, far from the real facts, where” nobody cares about your actions, but only what you say or tweet “.

His Inside Out exhibition opened in Berlin, which mixes memory, art and literature

It is an absence of dialogue that worries the writer known in Italy for books such as “Seven years of happiness” and “Pizzeria kamikaze”. Author with his wife Shira Geffen of the short film Jellyfish on the multicultural life of Tel Aviv, awarded at Cannes in 2007, Keret has always loved the contamination between different forms of expression.

Thus in Warsaw there is the Keret House, the narrowest house in the world (between 92 and 152 centimeters), built in the narrow space between two alleys and designed by the architect Jakub Szczesny to commemorate the memory of the writer’s family killed in Poland from the Nazis. And memory is also at the center of the exhibition “Inside out” which opened on October 21 in Berlin, where the stories of the writer’s childhood and the memories of the parents who survived the Holocaust are told through nine short stories, whose audio it can be heard in Hebrew, English and German.

(by Maria Cristina Vicario)