Explosive poems by an Israeli accusing his country of crimes against humanity.
New Directions Publishing Corporation
On Sale: April 1, 2003
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Playing on Zola's famous letter denouncing the anti-Semitism
of the French government throughout the Dreyfus affair,
Aharon Shabtai's title can be taken literally: it charges
his government and his people with crimes against the
humanity of their neighbors. Here we find snipers shooting
children, spin-masters trying to whitewash blood baths,
ammunition "distributed like bars of chocolate," and
"technicians of slaughter" for whom morality is merely "a
pain in the ass."
With a splendid lyrical physicality that accentuates
Shabtai's terse immediacy and matter-of-fact scorn, the
poems cover a period of six yearsâ€”from the 1996 election of
Netanyahu as prime minister through the curfews, lynchings,
riots, sieges, and bombings of the second intifada. But at
the heart of J'Accuse is the fate of the ethical Hebrew
culture in which the poet was raised: Shabtai refuses to
abandon his belief in the moral underpinnings of Israeli
society or to be silent before the barbaric and brutal. He
witnesses, he protests, he warns. Above all, he holds up a
mirror to his nation.
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