The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson

The Finkler Question

Howard Jacobson

Is the Finkler question what does it take to be Jewish? That's a poser. Amidst the political posturing and tortured relationships, Treslove tries his best to be a Finkler, but that is not good enough. And that sort of raises the question, do the best intentions ever achieve anything?

'Far from hating our Jewishness,' the letter went on, 'it is we who continue the great Jewish traditions of justice and compassion.'
One member of the group recognised the quotation and wanted it removed. Another feared that the phrase 'we are self-hating Jews' would be taken out of context and used against them, in the way that theatres extracted a phrase like 'wonderful drama' from the sentence 'A wonderful drama this is not'. A third asked why he and several other prominent ASHamees were not named as signatories to the letter but had to suffer ignominious inclusion among the '65 others'. And a fourth questioned the efficacy of writing letters to the Guardian at all.
'Gaza burns and we quibble over efficacy!' Finkler remonstrated.
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Explicit sexual content