All the same, Irv was euphoric. "But there are bound to be more anti-Semitic incidents any day now. I feel it in my bones. Terrific!"
Mordecai Richler, Barney's Version, Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 1997, p. 164.
I volunteered to work as a fund-raiser for United Jewish Appeal[....]|
"Shit. We've got a problem this year. There's been a decline in the number of anti-Semitic outrages."
"Yeah. Isn't that a shame," I said.
"Don't get me wrong. I'm against anti-Semitism. But every time some asshole daubs a swastika on a synagogue wall or knocks over a stone in one of our cemeteries, our guys get so nervous they phone me with pledges. So, things being how they are this year, what you've got to do is slam-dunk your target about the Holocaust. Shove Auschwitz at him. Buchenwald. War criminals thriving in Canada to this day. Tell him, 'Can you be sure it won't happen again, even here, and then where will you go?' Israel is your insurance policy, you say."
Mordecai Richler, Barney's Version, Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 1997, pp. 188-189.
This poignant tale of true love gone awry among the seniorboppers put me in mind of one of my few surviving septuagenarian buddies, and so that afternoon I bought a box of handmade Belgian chocolates in Westmount Square, and went to visit Irv Nussbaum, now seventy-nine years old, yet frisky as ever, and still active in community affairs. Irv, bless him, was angst-ridden about the fate of our people, but uppermost in his mind was the coming referendum. Only yesterday The Weasel's most rabid pointman had warned les autres that if we voted No massively we would be punished. "That's good news," said Irv, "because that prick must have started at least another thousand nervy Jews packing. I'm grateful. Now if only they'd opt for Tel Aviv rather than Toronto or Vancouver."|
"Irv, what's to be done with you, you're a terrible old man."
"Remember how when we were young the pepsis2 marched down the Main chanting 'Death to the Jews,' and Le Devoir read like it got its ideas from Julius Streicher? Do you recall how in those days there were all those restricted hotels in the Laurentians, and a Jew couldn't even get a job as a cashier in one of the banks here, never mind marry out. Like damn fools we complained about it. We fought discrimination bitterly. But, with hindsight, it was a blessing, anti-Semitism, if you feel as deeply as I do about Israel and Jewish survival."
"Do you think we ought to bring back pogroms?"
"Ho ho ho. I kid you not. Now we're accepted, even welcomed just about everywhere, and the young think nothing of marrying a shiksa. Look around, will you. These days there are Jews serving on the boards of banks, and on the Supreme Court, and even in the cabinet in Ottawa. That Gursky suck-hole Harvey Schwartz sits in the Senate. The lasting problem with the Holocaust is that it made anti-Semitism unfashionable. Ah, the whole world's gone topsy-turvy. I mean you're a drunk today, what is it? A disease. You murder your parents, sneaking up behind them with shotguns and blasting their heads off, like those two kids in California, what do you need? Understanding. You slit your wife's throat and you walk because you're black. Excuse me, African-American. You're a homosexual now and you expect to be married by a rabbi. Once that was the love that dared not speak its name, but you know what mustn't show its face today? Anti-Semitism. Listen here, my old friend, we didn't survive Hitler so that our children could assimilate and the Jewish people disappear."
2 "Pepsi" is pejorative slang for French Canadians, who were reputed to drink Pepsi-Colas for breakfast.
Mordecai Richler, Barney's Version, Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 1997, pp. 202-203.