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The Unlikely Blessings of Living on Borrowed Time in a Leased Land 415

aim of using the small-scale catastrophe to prevent a global-scale

catastrophe from occurring.


The only problem here is, to save

themselves from a life of homelessness and to attain redemption,


not theirs but others’

have to be lost, violence unleashed,

war launched, and apocalypse engineered. Their redemption, in

other words, becomes the doom of their neighbors.

In this narrative of redemption written collectively by the

fundamentalist group, Mendel is initially seen as the very

embodiment of the prophetic project they have anticipated. When

Mendel turns his back on his destiny and betrays the great

expectations of his people, he is disowned and disavowed. Yet, once

the Verbovers team up with the US government, their prophetic

vision and theological passion become fused with the ideology of

American exceptionalism, which is also a nationalism with a

messianic strain.


It is this messianic strain that allows their

narrative of Jewish exceptionalism to acquire an additional layer as

it now requires that Mendel be killed off, his exceptionality denied

and forgotten.

Mendel, a messiah-to-be, finds himself used as a pawn whose

presence is needed to legitimize the Zionist narrative. He is the

receptacle of divine messages waiting to be decoded. His untimely


Such a mechanism, I’d like to point out, fits very well the immunization

procedures that Roberto Esposito (2008) so eloquently elaborates and develops in


Bios: Biopolitics and Philosophy

, except his overall endeavors move toward the

articulation of an immunization paradigm that protects life from death and

unwittingly induces self-destruction. Annie. J. McClanahan, also discusses in her


Salto Mortale: Narrative, Speculation, and the Chance of the Future

the tendency of contemporary American fiction to expose and critique the

emerging discourses of “investing in the future” (2010: 12), especially the logic of

preemption that supports such discourses. In Chapter two of her dissertation, she

analyzes both Roth’s

The Plot Against America

and Chabon’s

The Yiddish

Policemen’s Union

to argue that both novels use the speculative genre to “register

neoliberalism’s violent negation of liberal democracy” (2010: 1).



American Exceptionalism and Human rights

, Michael Ignatieff defines

American exceptionalism as a “messianic American moral project,” and, in

carrying out this project, America believes it is its divine mission to “teaches [sic]

the meaning of liberty to the world; it does not learn from others” (2005: 14).