This post contains spoilers through the end of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.
At the end of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, we’re left with two terrible choices. Should Jews continue to pursue their ancestral homeland and transformation into a different kind of people, even if the cost is terrible? Or should they choose assimilation at the price of its being temporary, of the violence and upheaval of relocation.
There’s some suggestion that Israel is a cruel joke, that the transformation Jews will undergo should they possess it will be not to their liking. “This is the paper that God left the Jews holding,” Landsman thinks at one point, “the promise that we have been banging Him a kettle about ever since. The rook that attends the king at the endgame of the world.” But what happens when the process of banging the kettle becomes an objective in and of itself? What would it mean, specifically, for Jews to achieve security, a question posed almost accidentally by Landsman’s forgotten gym flyer: “The Jew to the right is lean, tanned, and trim-beareded, relaxed, self-confident. He looks a lot like one of Litvak’s young men. The Jew of the future, Landsman thinks. The unlikely claim is made by the postcard that the left-hand Jew and the Jew on the right are one and the same person.” The suggestion is that something won’t survive the transformation.
And that confidence may give rise to something terrible, at least in the transition. Ester-Malke, Berko’s wife, foresees something terrible:
All these people rioting on the television in Syria, Baghdad, Egypt? In London? Burning cars. Setting fires to embassies. Up in Yakovy, did you see what happened, they were dancing, those fucking maniacs,t hey were so happy about all this craziness, the whole floor collapsed right onto the apartment underneath. A couple of little girls sleeping in their beds, they got crushed to death. That’s the kind of shit we have to look forward to now. Burning cars and homicidal dancing.