June 14, 2021

Writing and peace | Culture

Writing and peace | Culture

Amos Oz leaves a legacy that is both literary, political and personal, and what unites these three areas is his clear and penetrating voice, his ability to wrap an idea in a brief, illuminating and original way. Authentic narrator, the course of his life also placed him in a position to tell the definitive history of the State of Israel during his first 70 years.

From his first stories of the fifties, and throughout decades, his fiction addressed the Israeli psyche in many of its main crossroads: life in the kibbutz, great wars, social divisions, religion, Palestinians. But his fiction never revolved around the "State" or its situation, but around the people who lived in it and built it, with their personal trips, their love stories, family fights and careers. The State of Israel was born when Oz was nine years old and both grew up together, forging an intimate relationship in whose core there was much love, but always with an open eye to the weaknesses of the beloved, in the anxious hope of improving it for the good of both. .

In addition to sharing a very short period with him when we lived in Arad, a small desert town-in which I was born and to which he moved in the seventies-I had the opportunity to work closely with his fiction when Natalie Portman asked me that collaborated in his adaptation to the cinema of the book of Oz A story of love and darkness. Portman wrote the script in English, based on his literary translation, and I retranslated it to Hebrew for the actors. At the crossroads between literary and cinematic language, English and Hebrew, I observed Oz's brilliant ability to juxtapose the tragic personal history of his early years in Jerusalem, with the loss of his mother at age 12, the gruesome story and heroic of the independence and redemption of the Jewish people, and their transformation from a devastating destiny in Europe to a nation that has just stood up.

In addition to award-winning author of widely circulated books, which does not lag behind any other writer in the history of our country, the voice of Amos Oz was for half a century also that of supporters of peace. It manifested itself in press articles, in its non-fiction collections, in the conferences and interviews it gave around the world, as well as being part of leftist groups and parties like Paz Ahora and Meretz. After the Six Day War, he was one of the first to warn of the dangers of a lasting occupation of the Palestinian people: a reality that has had the consequences with which we continue to live today. Then he continued to be a father figure to supporters of peace in Israel, speaking at demonstrations and defining, in Israel and outside it, the ideas of a liberal and tolerant country that believes that peace with our Arab neighbors is not only possible, but also essential and of vital interest so that we, the Israelis, have a secure and prosperous future.

Oz was also a great believer in Israeli literature and the Hebrew language, as well as an enormous support for us, the youngest Israeli writers. Five years ago I had the pleasure of receiving a letter written in his own handwriting (he always sent handwritten notes and until the end he did not convert to newer forms of communication) in which he told how moving and pleasing my novel seemed to me The Hilltop. For me this is an eloquent example of the kindness and humility of the writing giant that we have lost.

Assaf Gavron He is an Israeli writer.


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