Sometimes it happens that you have read all the books of a writer, his interviews on the occasion of the delivery of this or that literary prize, you have followed his public position statements and, in the end, upon hearing of his death, it seems that you knew him lifelong. As a friend, not just as a public figure. This is what happened to me when I heard about the death of Amos Oz. To begin with, and given that Nobel Prizes are not awarded posthumously, it should be protested because he was never granted the Literature in life award. Worse for the institution of the Nobel Prizes.
His books marked me for reasons that I will comment later. But his novels allow us to follow, very soon, a faithful portrait of Israeli society, its people, its extraordinary diversity. Since In another part maybe Y My dear Mijal, from the late sixties, until the last, Judas, going by Meet a woman Y The black box In the eighties, we have been able to follow not only their growing creative maturity. Oz has given us another service, his novels have allowed us to see and understand to the fullest the evolution of the Israeli social fabric and what many consider the deterioration of its democratic quality. As he told me months ago Shlomo Sand, another Israeli intellectual whom he has often, today, in Israel call "traitor" like Oz: "It is that in the end these governments of ours have turned us into … patriots!". And he said it as a curse then, along with Oz, Grossman, Sand, the historians Beny Morris or Pappé and many others, in Israel, a version 3.0 of the "politically correct dictatorship" has been established that becomes unbearable to those who suffer it.
Then, of course, there is the work and activism of Amos Oz from other publications, about the War of Lebanon (do not forget that Oz fought in the 1967 and 1973 wars), the situation of the Palestinians, and their role in the creation of the movement. Peace Now. On his initiative, in 1978 Paz Ahora founded about 400 army reservists, who were not willing to keep quiet about what was happening in the occupied Palestinian territories. And the two Intifadas were still missing … (1987-1992 and 2001-2006). Thousands of deaths after Amos Oz, understandably, he moved away from the political activism of the first line and, without abdicating his cause, he devoted himself to something more complex: slowly explain his growing skepticism about any solution, and talk about the need of a "fair" divorce (said Oz) between Palestinians and Jews. It did not surpass, as it happened there to others, and as it happened to many others anywhere in the world, the collapse of the peace plan known as the Oslo Accords (1993-2000), the only real negotiation in 70 years of conflict
In what sense does Oz represent for many of us a reference not only cultural but moral? It is probably a generational issue. In my case, my first trip to the area was in July 1967, the severity of the Holocaust explained by the family environment, naturally the fascination for the culture of the kibbutz and my passage on various occasions by those of Dvir and Hanita, Ein Gedi or Ein Gev. And the feeling, already in the course of that first visit, that "something did not fit." When you are young you have (or should have) the syndrome of Saint Thomas (touch something first with your hand, before you believe it without more), from 1969 I started a journey that took me to the Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank , in Gaza, in Lebanon, in Jordan. Something did not fit, it still does not fit, the situation will not be resolved by invoking Abraham or Ibrahim, and the story is neither philanthropic nor fair. And this is where Amoz is our protective shadow, when he says "I criticize Israel, its policies, its governments, but I am certainly not anti-Zionist", or when it says there should not be "sacred territories". The same denomination of the Holy Land has concealed, for 2,800 years, very little "ecumenical" performances. The secular, secular and progressive approach to such a long conflict is undoubtedly a beacon for all of us.
Pere Vilanova He is Professor of Political Science and Administration of the University of Barcelona.