Magazine article Tikkun

How to Cure a Fanatic

Magazine article Tikkun

How to Cure a Fanatic

Article excerpt

HOW TO CURE A FANATIC, by Amos Oz. Princeton University Press, 2006

YIGAL IS A FRIEND OF mine who works as printer in Jerusalem's Romema quarter. He remembers how, as a teenage boy, in 1967 he took his young brother Moshe to see the Western Wall just after it was captured.

Frustrated crowds were pressing to enter the Old City from outside Zion Gate, but the army was only permitting people to file in through a narrow passage, because the area was mined. Suddenly a young religious teenager broke through the barrier and ran around the passage toward the gate. The boy hit a mine and, as Yigal recalled, "went up into the air like an umbrella and came down dead."

Horrified, Yigal pulled his brother by the hand and they headed back home. He did not return to see the Wall for years. "I'm not in love with the Wall," he says, "When I see it, I remember that teenager and think about what caused him to die." He opposes the national religious cult of Wall idolatry.

Yigal is an anti-fanatic and, like Amos Oz, he was born in Jerusalem-a city that not only raises copious fanatics, but also attracts them from around the world. Oz calls himself an expert in comparative fanaticism and offers his book How to Cure a Fantatic as his job application for any university that opens a teaching position in the subject. …

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