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“The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharqad tree would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.”
Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:56:791
For Muslims the boxthorn tree is their botanical metaphor for the Jews, but for Israelis their own self-chosen botanical metaphor is the prickly pear. Both are thorny plants at home in the desert and more than capable of protecting themselves in that harsh environment. For Muslims the Jew is a tree that must be torn out of the soil, but the Jew in Israel sees his people becoming trees whose roots hold fast to the soil of a revived land.
Lycium ferocissimum, the boxthorn tree, or the Gharqad tree, is the overarching metaphor of David Solway’s The Boxthorn Tree. Muslims see the Jews as the people of the boxthorn tree and that same genocidal Hadith, which appears in the Hamas covenant, among so many other Muslim Brotherhood documents, is how Solway’s book looks back at Muslim hatred, persecution and terror.
The Boxthorn Tree by David Solway is a collection of essays, literary in intent, practical in expression, that touch on the topics of Jewish identity and Jewish life under the shadow of constant genocide. As Solway notes, Jews live always under the threat of the fate of the boxthorn tree and of every tree in a desert land. There is always someone seeking to tear them out of their small piece of good earth.
David Solway however explores more than just Islamic terror, that quintessential threat, which in the Hadith, from whose name the book emerges, the end of the world concludes with every rock and tree, but the boxthorn tree, crying out for the death of the Jew. The Boxthorn Tree is about more than the rendezvous with evil that has become such a part of Jewish history; it is about Jewishness itself.
Terror raises the Jewish question again, summons up the ghosts of the new anti-Semitism and covers them with rotten flesh and causes them to speak with rancid tongues, but David Solway is more concerned with how Jews respond to the experience of being hated, than with the hatred alone. The Boxthorn Tree is less about hatred and more about self-hatred, whether it is the self-hatred of the Post-Jewish Jew chanting bellicose slogans outside the Israeli consulate or the Post-Christian Western leader selling out Israel and then his own country, in that order, in the hopes of winning a stay of execution from the demographic Damocles Sword of Islamic immigration and Islamist terror.
“’Peace’ means that we are no longer willing to fight for the principles and traditions that have raised us to the top of the dominance hierarchy and that we are ready or eager to submit to a clear ideological foe,” David Solway writes of the degenerating instincts of the senescent free world. “’Freedom’ means that we have accepted the growing likelihood of defeat and comparative servitude. And ‘Justice’ means the acknowledgment of the ‘rights’ of our adversaries to game the social, political and legal systems of their host countries to their advantage, in other words, to insinuate their norms of conduct and cultural presuppositions into a way of life we have long taken for granted and are now prepared to surrender piecemeal to the claims of the ‘other.’”
This is a tangible snapshot of the new reality forming around us, creeping through the mail slots and the worn edges of the doorframes of our societies, and it is how we react to this new reality that measures us, how we fit and frame it into the old world that we grew up in that determines whether we surrender to it or resist it. And the cold wind that blows across the West is chilliest in the warm breezes of the old city of the east. Jerusalem.
These are grim subjects and in the hands of another author might seem as bleak as the hearts of those who stretch out their hands to put out the light of civilization, but Solway tackles these topics with the trademark humor of the Jewish intellectual who finds enlightenment even among topics otherwise fit for despair. He does not resign himself to merely making the case for freedom and humanity, for the right of the Jew to live and the right of his would-be killers to be killed, as so many do, but he brings a cutting insight and wit to the proceedings.
“Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, who accepted the 2009 Jerusalem Prize for foreign writers, delivered a reception speech implicitly comparing Israel to a wall and Palestinians to eggs broken against it,” David Solway observes in The Boxthorn Tree. “In this tidy, fabricated scenario, Murakami, apart from churlishly insulting his benefactors whose award he should honorably have refused, forgot that there were 20,000 ‘eggs’ in Sderot broken against a ‘wall’ of Palestinian rocket fire and that thousands of Israeli ‘eggs’ were smashed post-Oslo. He emerged from this simple-minded fiasco with egg on his face, plainly unable to differentiate truth from fiction.”
So Solway conducts his observations of worlds literary and immediate, going from Greek tragedies to daily tragedies, linking culture to politics and political incorrectness to the defiance of insight. There are few areas that escape his penetrating gaze and few topics that he does not look deeply into, as he takes apart the links between the Jewish future and the Islamic threat.
The Boxthorn Tree is the product of those observations, culled, collected, collated and presented for those who have an affinity for subjects complex, for sharp thorns and for sweet tastes. For Front Page Magazine readers who have long enjoyed reading David Solway’s essays, The Boxthorn Tree is a chance to own a collection of them on the shelf. And for those who have not, The Boxthorn Tree captures the wit and wisdom of David Solway in a form that is as intricately woven and as sharp as the boxthorn tree.
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