Sun Szu’s Jews

What Sun Szu remembered most was how they spent so much of their time arguing with you or selling you something – it didn’t matter whether it was old clothes, diamonds and messiahs or monotheism, futures and the idea of bagels. And if, Szu observed, nobody came near them for a while, they’d argue with each other. Szu recalled an incident in the departure lounge of what must have been the John F. Kennedy airport. The one in a black hat with much face hair, professor of advanced weaponry from their holy land, shouting that he, and not the other, was the true Jew, follower of Abraham, and the warrior David, defender of the holy places against the murderous infidel arabs. The other, clean shaven and bald from the diaspora of Greater Un-Israel, replied with a shrug that ex-jews, jews that had been and gone, were the true ones: they were to the Israel-ones what the Israel-ones were to gentiles, it was they who spiralled round the hole in the bagel just as Spinoza and countless others had done before them. Sun Szu, for whom to fight was already to lose (demoralising the enemy being always superior) wondered which protagonist, were they princes seeking counsel, he would advise. But needing neither philosophical bagels nor missiles, and hard put to imagine them as Chinese nobles, he refused to choose between the jews, contenting himself instead with a request, in the studied politeness of his class, for them to argue a little more quietly if they could.

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