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bed fellows for Assimilationists and Zionists because for both of

these groups redemption is bound to a land that is believed to have

been given to them directly by God. The fantasy of exceptionalism,

the other side of Jewish Messianism, becomes the force that prompts

Diasporic Jews to write a teleological narrative that privileges the

ends over the means while suppressing superfluous details so as to

underscore the future-changing role of the alleged Messiah. This

direction is taken to such a degree that they are willing to kill off the

alleged villains to round off a closure that validates the ideology of


The fantasy of exceptionalism assumes many different guises.

In writing

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union

, Chabon singles out two

different discourses of exceptionalism, while staging a “dialogue”

between these two so as to bring to the fore the underside of both

ideologies: Jewish exceptionalism on the one hand and American

exceptionalism on the other. In other words, Zionist nationalism

and assimilation into the US. These two discourses of exceptionalism

team up at the end to force upon their joint narrative of redemption

a closure that meets the mutual expectations of their believers. For

Zionists as well as for Assimilationists, it is imperative to construct

a narrative in which Alaskan Jews play the central role. They must

find a home for themselves and refashion the order of the world, a

narrative that, because it is repeatedly told, everybody ends up


Moreover, in order to defend the coherence and creditability

of such a narrative of redemption, “tactics of sacrifice” (318), as

Landsman describes Uncle Hertz’s repeated use of blackmail and

violence, have been used so often that the sacrifice of others has

become an “addiction” not only for Uncle Hertz but also for the

Jews in general. A narrative of redemption, especially one oriented

towards a nation-building project, demands and then justifies the

deployment and employment of the “tactics of sacrifice.”