Years ago, we had a talented young intern who was interested in all things Jewish. I told him about a science fiction story about Jews on Venus that I loved back in the 1970s but hadn’t seen since. He was ultimately able to track it down and transcribe it from a recording of its author reading it aloud. Now, the story has been published in its entirety in Tablet magazine. Here’s a taste:
There’s another thing I don’t like about Neozionism; and it’s hard to say it out loud, especially to a stranger. This business about going back to Israel. Where else does a Jew belong but in that particular land? Right? Well, I don’t know, maybe. We started out there with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. No good. So the first time we came back was with Moses, and that lasted for a while—until the Babylonians threw us out. Then we came back under Zerubbabel, and we stayed there for 500 years—until Titus burned the Temple and the Romans made us leave again. Two thousand years of wandering around the world with nothing more to show for it than Maimonides and Spinoza, Marx and Einstein, Freud and Chagall, and we said, enough is enough, back to Israel. So back we went with Ben-Gurion and Chaim Weizmann and the rest of them. For a couple of centuries we did all right, we only had to worry about 40 million Arabs who wanted to kill us, but that’s not enough excitement for what God Himself, Blessed be His Name, called on Mount Sinai a “stiff-necked people.” We have to get into an argument—in the middle of the Interplanetary Crisis—with Brazil and Argentina.
Wry, funny, sharply observed and deeply human, it’s a story that deserves a permanent place in the annals of science fiction, American literature and Jewish fiction. A Hanukkah present to the world from Tablet. Take some time to listen to, or read, the whole thing.