"The argument was that a nuclear agreement that lifts sanctions and
reduces tensions with Iran will advantage the moderates and make it more
likely that in the period of the agreement Iran will become a status
quo power and be less interested in developing nuclear weapons,"
Recent events have cast some grave doubts upon Beinart's political perspicacities when it comes to Obama and the Jews. However, in the emerging deal with Iran -Obama's ideological baby legacy- we are witnessing the workings of a mind, reminiscent of a type of Shtetl Jewish thinking. I
wondered how best to illustrate the despair and profligate optimism
encapsulated within this kind of vision and thought this tale might
serve to illustrate my point. I heard this Yiddish folktale once on the radio and
have recreated it here from memory. So the details may not be accurate but the
A poritz is the name by which East European Jews referred to
a Polish grandee, and more generically to any gentile landowners on whose land they resided and upon whose benevolence they
depended, for the poritz had the power of life and death over them.
The Poritz, the Jew and the Talking Horse
So the story goes:
One day the poritz caught a Jew
stealing some carrots from his vegetable garden. He determined that the Jew should die, to serve as an example to other
hungry Jews not to try to steal the poritz’s carrots. The community’s
entreaties on behalf of their poor brother fell on deaf ears. You Jews, said
the poritz, will never learn unless we teach you a lesson you cannot forget.
So the day of the execution the Jew is brought before the
poritz to make a final plea. The poritz was mounted on his favourite horse as
the Jew, facing him, was trying to think what could possibly dissuade the
poritz from carrying out the verdict. As he watched he noted how fondly the poritz
caressed his horse’s mane. He had an idea.
-If you let me live for one more year, I will teach your horse
to speak, he volunteered.
The poritz doubted the Jew’s proposal but he loved his horse
so much that he couldn’t bring himself to pass over the possibility that he
might actually have a proper conversation with the beast. And anyway, it was only a
postponement, not an annulment of the death sentence. So he agreed to the deal and let the Jew go.
The other Jews, who had come to accompany the convict on his
last journey, were dismayed.
-What are you doing?
How can you teach a horse to speak?
-A year, said the newly liberated Jew, is a long time. Anything can
happen in a year. I could die. The poritz could die. Or the horse could die.