Saturday, July 21, 2012

In the Land of Israel

In the Land of Israel, Amos Oz shows us a glimpse of "a few places and a few people" in Israel in Autumn 1982. This interesting, but difficult to read book throws us into the complexity and diversity of political views, religious beliefs, economical situation, history and present of various inhabitants of the land of Israel at that time.

Amos's journey starts where he grew up, in the Geulah quarter in Jerusalem, now taken over by the Hasidim, and ends in the port city of Ashdod. In between, we travel with the author and listen to his conversations with people of Bet Shemesh - a stronghold of Likud west of Jerusalem, Tekoa - a Jewish community in the West Bank (historical provinces of Judea and Samaria), Ramallah, an anonymous veteran village, Ofra - a Jewish settlement in West Bank, the East Jerusalem office of Al-Fajr Al-Arabi - The Arab Dawn, and the city of Zichron Yaakov.

In Ofra the author presents his views on statehood, which I will sum up here with these two excerpts: "Nationalism itself is, in my eyes, the curse of mankind", but "[...] existence without the tools of statehood is a matter of mortal danger [...]".

About the author: "Amos Oz was born in 1939 into a family which, as he has said. 'dreamed in Yiddish, conversed in Russian and Polish, read books in German and English', but taught him one language only: Hebrew."

And on a lighter note, since I live in Oz now, "oz" in Hebrew means courage or strength, but be careful how you spell it. :-)

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