Perhaps this is just my amateur understanding of inheritance law, across borders and time and space, but I fail to see what claim Israel has to what is left of Kafka’s unpublished manuscripts. Sure, they were supposed to be burned, and they weren’t. Sure, willing them to your secretary-cum-mistress upon your death is a little iffy. Sure, she’ll have her daughters inherit what’s left. As bizarre as the story is, the intentionality of everyone’s wills seems pretty clear to me. Kafka to Brod to Esther to daughters. So what claim does the State of Israel have? Apparently when you flee genocide, you give up your right to choose who inherits your stuff. Seems a little like adding insult to injury, no?
Last time I checked, when I escape a country with a suitcase full of papers, the papers will still be mine to do with what I please, whether in life or in death, wherever I end up, and do not become the possession of the state to which I flee. But I could have this totally backwards. If Israel wins this suit, a precedent will have been set. It automatically becomes the possessor of any inheritance bequeathed to any independent individual or institution as long as the deceased died in Israel. It, by the power of God and the rights of the chosen people, is allowed to circumvent international custom and law and decency and respect and abscond with whatever it so chooses. So, what’s the point of dying if you can’t even leave your stuff to whomever you want?
I would feel the same way if this were any government of any country. It’s just particularly painful when the government in question calls itself a democracy. A democracy – a government of the people – that can supersede the benign wishes of a citizen? AND take materials out of a Swiss safe deposit box? 007srael…the idea is absurd. The intentionality of inheritance has always seemed clear to me. Tax, fine. Complete theft, theft.
The manuscripts should probably just be burned, like Kafka wanted in the first place. Save everyone a headache or seven.