The Sabras portray themselves in their writings in sets of dichotomies. Fierce Zionist idealism and total conformity to the values of the founding fathers coexist with a penchant for challenging the establishment and developing channels of cultural distinctiveness and independence. The profound seriousness of revolutionaries is superimposed on the mischievous and defiant facetiousness of youth. Lofty pathos in writing accompanies relentless directness in conversation. On one side is the anti-intellectual ethos of the farmer and soldier; on the other a highly developed culture of colloquy and book reading. Some may see this dichotomization as hypocrisy or perhaps as a lacuna between norm and practice, but such an explanation is seen to be incorrect, or at least insufficient. As this book shows, these are not necessarily contradictions; they are to a large extent complementary traits or values that characterize a complex culture swinging between the needs of the collective and the needs of the individual, between Jewishness and anti-Jewishness, between utopianism and pragmatism, between innovation and institutionalization, and between war and peace.
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