When I was seventeen, I was preparing myself for my compulsory IDF service. Being a well-built teenager fuelled with Zionist spirit and soaked in self-righteousness, I was due to join an air force special rescuing unit. But then the unexpected happened. On an especially late night Jazz program, I heard Bird (Charlie Parker) with Strings.
I was knocked down. It was by far more organic, poetic, sentimental and yet wilder than anything I had ever heard before. My father used to listen to Bennie Goodman and Artie Shaw, these two were entertaining, they could play the clarinet, but Bird was a different story altogether. He was a fierce libidinal extravaganza of wit and energy. The morning after, I decided to skip school, I rushed to “Piccadilly Record”, Jerusalem’s No 1 music shop. I found the jazz section and bought every bebop album they had on the shelves (probably two albums). On the bus, on the way home, I realized that Bird was actually a Black man. It didn’t take me by complete surprise, but it was kind of a revelation, in my world, it was only Jews who were associated with anything good. Bird was a beginning of a journey.
At the time, like my peers, I was pretty convinced that Jews were indeed the chosen people. My generation was raised on the Six Day War magical victory, we were totally sure of ourselves. Since we were secular, we associated every success with our omnipotent qualities. We didn’t believe in divine intervention, we believed in ourselves. We believed that our might is brewed in our resurrected Hebraic soul and flesh. The Palestinians, on their part, were serving us obediently and it didn’t seem at the time as if this was ever going to change. They didn’t show any real signs of collective resistance. The sporadic so-called “terror” attacks made us feel righteous, it filled us with some eagerness to get revenge. But somehow within this extravaganza of omnipotence, to my great surprise, I learned to realize that the people who exited me the most were actually a bunch of Black Americans. People who have nothing to do with the Zionist miracle. People that had nothing to do with my own chauvinist exclusive tribe.