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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simply amazing!
This book was one assigned in my judaic civ class at unc. I was by no means excited about having to read it, but i found it to be a phenomenal, page-turning piece of non-fiction. More than any textbook, Oz describes the people and places of Israel so vividly you begin to feel as if you are visiting yourself. It was undeniably helpful to me, an American Christian who...
Published on December 7, 2000 by Kristen Stewart

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars rating for In the Land of Israel
I am quite familiar with the subject & found the story presented in a very simple manner. It became boring after awhile & I didn,t look forward to going back to it again. It is for a young group who did not live during the establishment of Israel or those who were unaware of its history & current problems.
Published 6 months ago by marjorie sanger


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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simply amazing!, December 7, 2000
By 
This review is from: In the Land of Israel (Harvest in Translation) (Paperback)
This book was one assigned in my judaic civ class at unc. I was by no means excited about having to read it, but i found it to be a phenomenal, page-turning piece of non-fiction. More than any textbook, Oz describes the people and places of Israel so vividly you begin to feel as if you are visiting yourself. It was undeniably helpful to me, an American Christian who never really studied Israel, in understanding the complex world of Israeli politics. Moreover, it helped me to see the exent to which Judaism was present in Israeli life. He did a great job of giving Arabs a fair portrayal and a voice. I had a hard time believing Oz didn't make these characters up! I am looking forward to starting in on some of his fiction. What a brilliant writer!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential read, July 16, 2002
By 
Singapore native (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: In the Land of Israel (Harvest in Translation) (Paperback)
This book is an excellent contribution to the understanding of Israel in general and of the situation between the Palestinians and Israelis in particular and is, in my opnion, a "must read" for anyone interested in deepening their knowledge in this area.
The book is a collection of articles first published serially in 1982-83. Each chapter is an interview that author Amos Oz conducted in Israel or the Palestinian territories in late 1982. The interviews include a teacher at an orthodox rabbinical high school, two Palestinian journalists/writers, an Israeli Arab, settlers in the West Bank, North African Jewish immigrants, a French Catholic priest in Jerusalem, a Jewish farmer and his wife living in the coastal plain, and an elderly Rumanian immigrant in the seaside city of Ashdod.
It should be emphasized that the book is NOT a "cross section" of Israeli society and it does not profess to portray the "average" Israeli. Amos Oz himself says as much when he says he does not believe these articles to be a "representative" picture. Nevertheless, these articles have value in that they provide in depth views into one of the smallest yet one of the most complex and diverse societies on the planet.
However, what is most valuable about the book is the 17-page postscript added at the end. This postscript is a lecture that the author delivered in Michigan in 1993, ten years after the original interviews had taken place, and it presents the author's analysis of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Mr. Oz believes in a two-state solution: Israel and Palestine, two independent states co-existing side by side peacefully. In this lecture, he presents the sanest, most rational, most balanced perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of anyone I have ever heard or read. It is more insightful than anything I have heard from a "talking head," news commentator, or media pundit. Although it was written 10 years ago, nearly all of it is still valid today (in 2002). The postscript itself is almost worth the price of the whole book. Outstanding. This book has my highest recommendation.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gasp, July 18, 2000
By 
Ruth (Melbourne) - See all my reviews
This review is from: In the Land of Israel (Harvest in Translation) (Paperback)
This book takes the breath out of me! I have never been to Israel, but I've met israeis out and about. The violence of the opinions that people hold about israel etc. are difficult to handle sometimes. My admiration has always been for people who can discuss such intense issues squarely and without losing their cool. Oz does this. I don't know how fair the book is, or how reasonable, but was like holding dynamite in my hands. Each chapter develops the arguments presented by a different person/group of people. It leaves the impression of brave, passionate people in an intense country. Usually I can read a book from cover to cover, but this time is was like: read a chapter, recover for a few days, read another one. I strongly recommend this book. In some places it's beautiful.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The major barricade is the one that divides the Jews from the Israelis...", September 17, 2008
This review is from: In the Land of Israel (Harvest in Translation) (Paperback)
I decided to re-read this book after 25 years. And once again I was dazzled by the quality of the insights, and the masterful handling of dialogue, in which Amos Oz excels. For the non-Jewish American it is difficult to obtain an authentic, realistic portrait of Israel through the American media filter. Far better for that is Haaretz and Amos Oz. He sees, and conveys the anguish, in this collection of eleven marvelous short stories.

One of the major themes, but fortunately there are numerous others, is the one that divides the secular Israelis from the religious ones, the "Jews", which he conveys so eloquently in his story on "An Argument on Life and Death (A)". And it is the latter, in the adherence to their mindless fundamentalism that are ascendant; Oz struggles to convey the sentiments of the "Jews" even-handedly, but it is a struggle that he often loses.

Oz has this incredible ear for dialogue and the ability to transpose this to the written page. In short vignettes he explains why there was a major political transformation, without 800 pages of leaden analysis. For example, his story "The Insult and the Fury" clearly captures the anger that resulted in the rise of the Likud, and the political victory of Begin. Oz goes to the village of Bet Shemesh, with its heavy Sephardic population. The resentment seethes: "I'll tell you something about the hatred. But write it in good Hebrew. You want the hatred between us to end? First of all, come and apologize, properly." A catalog of grave offenses and slights of the "elite" Ashkenazis follows. One of the resounding point made is their unwillingness to ever give up the West Bank, because of their feeling that they had been brought to Israel to be the "hewers of wood, and drawers of water" for the Ashkenazis. No longer, they say; that chore is "delegated" to West Bank and Gaza Arabs.

The opposite sentiment is expressed in the story "The Finger of God?" The Arabs would be expelled from their homes in Nablus, Bethlehem and Hebron, just like they were from Ramla and Jaffa in '48. Ethnic cleansing, but then who will be those "hewers"?

In "An Argument on Life and Death (B)" Oz takes a completely different approach. No selected dialogue. It is his well-argued position made before the "settlers" in Ofra. At the beginning he clearly states: "You are convinced that to relinquish Judea and Samaria would endanger the existence of the State of Israel. I think that annexation of these regions endangers the existence of the State of Israel." The subsequent exposition of his case is as valid 25 years later as it was then.

In the story, "The Dawn" he goes to the editorial offices of the East Jerusalem Arabic newspaper, "Al-Fajr." Among others, he talks to Attallah Najar, a 30 year old Israeli citizen, who was born in the Galilee. Probing his duel allegiances, he asks him a fascinating question: "What if you are one day offered a choice between serving as the Israeli ambassador to Palestine and serving as the Palestinian ambassador to Israel? What will you chose?

In "A Cosmic Jew" Oz goes to the coastal town of Bat Shlomo, and talks with 78 year old Zvi Bachur, and his wife, Sarah. His parents came from Minsk in 1900, and they, and he scratched out an existence by farming. He is quite proud of his manual labor, and says that in the early mornings Israel is an Arab country, because the Jews are still asleep. He laments the lost "work ethic," like many of his generation, in many different countries. His story is an important one, as is his philosophical outlook.

Oz was born in Jerusalem in 1939. He clearly loves his country, and describes its physical aspects with care to the details and much affection. For example: "It is chilly in Jerusalem. At four in the afternoon there is already a faint scent of evening in the air. The sky, the asphalt street, the mountain slopes, the cypress trees and the stone are all tinged by autumn here in varying shades of grey..." In these stories, at least, he never bemoans his fate in living in a country of so much turmoil, passion, and anguish. He never speculates what it might have been like become attached to, say, Winesburg Ohio. Or even if the same emotions could be felt about such a "normal" place. But he does close this book with a story set in Ashdod, a pleasant, small city, recently created on the Mediterranean coast, a city "not pretending to be Paris or Zurich or aspiring to be Jerusalem... without imperial boulevards, without monuments... a city living entirely in the present tense... almost serene." Wistful seems to be the sentiment.

This remains the quintessential book on Israel. Oz is a master, to be savored, yes, yet again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mythbuster, July 8, 2006
By 
E. Rodin MD (Sandy, UT United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In the Land of Israel (Harvest in Translation) (Paperback)
Although this book was first published in 1983 and updated in 1993 it is currently exceedingly topical and deserves not only to be read but incorporated into our thinking about that country. Oz shows that the myth of "the Jews" as a unified concept, so favored by anti-Semites, has no basis in fact. The book depicts the wide varieties of views Israelis hold vis a vis Palestinians as well as Diaspora Jews. In addition it reveals a latent self-destructive trait in some of the citizens of the state which may bode ill for the future if it were to become a dominant feature of Israeli society.

The book also presents the Palestinian side fairly and destroys the myth that "they are all terrorists." They are likewise people who want to live in peace and each side is poorly served by their respective government.

From the many excellent points made by the various people Oz had conversations with there was one from a young Palestinian which deserves quoting. "Tell the Israelis power won't help them. Power is like money - today it's mine, tomorrow it's yours, the day after it's his. They have to end the war with sense, not with power. Justly. Write for the peace!"

Even Americans who put their confidence in our country's military might would benefit from taking this simple truth to heart.

Thus, everyone who wants to understand what is going on in the Middle East should read this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely engaging!, April 20, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: In the Land of Israel (Harvest in Translation) (Paperback)
This is the first book I have ever read about Israel--and the reason I grabbed it in the bookstore is the same reason I enjoyed it so much--it grabs a hold of you and won't let go! On his trip around the country, he speaks to so many people, all of whom seem to feel *very passionately* about the issues they're discussing. At times I was shocked by the anger of people I would've stereotype as peaceful, and amazed at the quiet ernestness of people I would have stereotyped as pure fury. (Not that I advocate stereotyping ;o) I really felt like I was there, watching these conversations, and I wanted more . . . Originally I was looking for a book to give me a feel for what is going on in that part of the world, to get an understanding of why the struggle for peace has been so long . . . I felt that this book did exactly what I asked.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A small collective portrait of Israel in the 1980's, October 10, 2004
This review is from: In the Land of Israel (Harvest in Translation) (Paperback)
This is a book about meetings in Israel with different kinds of Israelis. Oz does a good job of listening sympathetically and narrating the stories and complaints of those he meets. One especially powerful meeting occurs in a development town where those of the ' second Israel' powerfully spell out their grievances. The writing here is clear and often very moving. Though Oz is of course touted for his fiction it seems to me that this small piece of writing is , to the point he wrote it, his most effective work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cross-Section of Israeli Society, August 16, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: In the Land of Israel (Harvest in Translation) (Paperback)
This is a great book that provides a very insightful view of Israeli society. Oz has managed to present a great cross-section of views in Israel, interspersed with insightful commentary. A great book for anyone seeking to understand Israelis opinion.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great intoduction to Isreali essayist, June 26, 2000
By 
This review is from: In the Land of Israel (Harvest in Translation) (Paperback)
One of those books you wish would go on and on. I saw Oz being interviewed on BBC a few years ago and was quite impressed. His book is balanced and fair (as far as we can know regarding what his sources said and what made it to the page). I'm very much interested in Mid East politics and social/cultural issues. I'm trying to look at all angles. (I just finishing Karen Armstrong's "Holy War" on the Crusades and their impact on the region then and now.) I would like to find a fair, impartial, and complete (as possible) book on Zionism/Kibbutz movement as it affected both Jews and Moslems. (Any suggestions? )
I highly recommend this book and now am reading "A Perfect Peace".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 years old and still remarkable and fresh, April 26, 2006
This review is from: In the Land of Israel (Harvest in Translation) (Paperback)
This remarkable portrait of Israeli society is organized around diverse populations and Oz allows each to speak with eloquence and passion for their own vision of what Israel is or should be. Although this work is now more than twenty years old and some aspects of it seem dated (the Intifada, Oslo, the pullout from Lebanon are all in the future), it still holds much to offer. A marvelous window into debates still raging in Israel today.
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In the Land of Israel (Harvest in Translation)
In the Land of Israel (Harvest in Translation) by Amos Oz (Paperback - October 31, 1993)
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