Nurit Zarchi On:
Saragossa in Berlin by Iftach Alony
A pair of Israeli young men who shared some experiences in the army – experiences more easily suppressed than forgotten – are now spending their time together in Berlin.
An underlying darkness is ever-present in their attempts to have some fun, rearing its head as if at random, as if it’s “no big deal” when they decide to buy a bull and run him in a bullfight.
The bull, who they name Saragossa, fulfills a symbolic function on multiple plains: the dark instinctual force they experienced in the war – a blend of power, fear, the desire to win and the forgetting of one’s self in battle; the primordial symbol of the bull, manifested as a calf and widespread throughout the Egyptian, Minoan and Biblical world; and of course its name, which makes us think of Spain, yet not in the heroic context of bullfights but rather as an allusion to the Jewish community at a time when culture flourished in this Spanish city, while its fate was determined by history.
The bull becomes the mouthpiece for these young men. It represents what they cannot express, a profound feeling they are unable to give voice to, because of the Israeli culture, the political and military situation, and the need to be politically correct. It is a concept that completely contradicts the national vision, and perhaps reality as well.
And so Saragossa escapes from the ring, led by the notion of “Why should I die for you?”
Indeed he escapes, but it turns out he has no place to go to in this world, there is no shelter for him, and he cannot go further than the story’s protagonists allow themselves to go. His only escape route is his desperate need to flee this conflict, to soar with the birds.