The Center Doesn’t Hold

by Uri Avnery

“The best lack all convictions, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity!”
Is there a better description of what is happening in Israel now?

Yet these words were written, almost a hundred years ago, by the Irish poet W. B. Yeats.

Yeats was writing shortly after the terrible slaughter and destruction of World War I. He believed that the world was coming to an end, and expected the second coming of the Messiah.

As part of the chaos, he foresaw in the same poem that “the center cannot hold”. I believe he took this metaphor from the battlefields of former ages, when the opposing armies were arrayed in two lines facing each other, with the main force in the center, and the two flanks protecting it.Read more