Sunday, June 06, 2010

Leon Uris' Novel "The Haj" and its Relevance Today

One of the great books I've read, "The Haj", is about the conflict in Palestine between the Arabs, Jews and the British after the end of WWII. The following is the response from Gideon, a Jew and one of the main characters in the book to a British officer as the battle between the Arabs and Jews erupts into all out war in Palestine. The British have started their withdrawal from those lands, abandoning the few thousand beleaguered Jews to the millions of Arabs arming themselves to wipe them out. Gideon warns the British officer that Islam is on the march. This book was written in 1984 and here we are 16 years later...with a President that does not seem to realize the dangers we confront or maybe doesn't care.

I always think that we get the President we deserve because of the way we don't consistently uphold the founding principles of this great nation. It's time to change that and realize that we live in a dangerous world with nuts on the loose governing countries that have nukes. Americans have to accept this danger and the idea that the only way we can continue on is to recognize our Founding values of small government and our individual rights to life and liberty. By making our government focus on its primary mandate - the protection of our homeland and American lives, we will have the resources to defend our land against the evil that abounds in certain places on this beautiful earth.

"Strange, isn't it, that we Jews are once again stuck with a dirty job no one else wants? You and all your snide friends in all the foreign offices know in your hearts the cruelty, the evil that emanates from the Moslem world. But you are afraid to hold Islam up to the light and tell your people, 'Look, this is what we have to live with.' No, let the Jews do it. We once again man the barricades alone, berated by our smug, so-called allies of the Western democracies. Islam is going to turn this world upside down before this century is out and you'd better have enough guts to deal with it. It's lonely here, Brompton. It's lonely." Page 213 from "The Haj" by Leon Uris (Bantam Books, the paperback edition).


Anonymous said...

"The Haj" is one of the "great" books you've read? Really? A "great" book?

The Haj is a poorly written pro-Jew anti-Arab racist screed.

Granted, the 20th century history of Palestine and the creation of Israel is a very interesting context. It should have been possible to write something compelling, if the author had any sense of balance (and better writing skills).

But the shoddy writing and incessant use of rascist caricatures of Arabs as uneducated, needy, violent, inbred, back-stabbing goat farmers distracts from any attempt at plot development. This is especially true because everything Jewish is portrayed as ingenious, generous, and gallant.

The main theme of the book is "Why can't those dumb Arabs realize that they must learn to be as wonderful as those plucky Jews".

Spare me!

There are plenty of great books out there, but The Haj is definitely not one of them.

Anonymous said...

I've just started reading "The Haj" and was struck by my lack of understanding regarding Palestine. Born in the 60's I've always heard that land was taken from the Palestinians, however, the book indicates that Arabs sold the land to the Jews. ?? I'm definitely going read more on this subject, outside the book, to gain a greater understanding. I also didn't realize that the Middle East countries I've known growing up were not always as they are today.

Reklektikos said...

When, shortly after 2001, I came across that passage from Uris' well-researched novel, I too was impressed by the author's foresight regarding the world-shaking events to come. Eerily, a Nostradamus-like prognistication.

For another good book about the grounds for the ongoing troubles in the Middle East I recommend Chaim Herzog's The Arab-Israeli Wars.

Yes, both of these books are necessarily biased, but the writer's objectivity is always subject to not only the reader's subjective inclinations but to his own as well.

Someone else who spoke several years earlier about bombing the WTC was Sirhan Sirhan. As Ring Lardner famously wrote, "You can look it up". He was quoted by an investigative reporter while in a Federal lockup during an interview. Playboy magazine published the remarks in the 1970's, about 20 years before the 1st WTC bombing!