- Series: Harvest in Translation
- Paperback: 294 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books; First edition (October 31, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780156481144
- ISBN-13: 978-0156481144
- ASIN: 0156481146
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #993,557 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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In the Land of Israel (Harvest in Translation) First Edition
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From the Back Cover
Notebook in hand, Amos Oz traveled throughout Israel and the West Bank in the early 1980s to talk with workers, soldiers, religious zealots, aging pioneers, new immigrants, desperate Arabs, and visionaries, asking them questions about Israels past, present, and future. What he heard is set down here in those distinctive voices, alongside Ozs observations and reflections. A classic insiders view of a land whose complex past and troubled present make for an uncertain future.
Ozs vignettes . . . wondrously re-create whole worlds with an economy of words. Philadelphia Inquirer
AMOS OZ was born in Jerusalem in 1939. He is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including his acclaimed memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness, which was an international bestseller and a recipient of the National Jewish Book Award.
About the Author
AMOS OZ was born in Jerusalem in 1939. He is the author of fourteen novels and collections of short fiction as well as numerous works of nonfiction. His acclaimed memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness was an international bestseller and recipient of the prestigious Goethe Prize, as well as the National Jewish Book Award. Scenes from Village Life, a New York Times Notable Book, was awarded the Prix Méditerranée Étranger in 2010. He lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.
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In of themselves these independent windows into the existence and views of Israelis from different walks of life is well written, interesting and very educational. Clearly a caleidoscope of life.
The author's thoughts and vew points which he put to those he engaged did not affect any and obviously not very popular or accepted neither then or 30 years later.
All they accomplished was to bring to light a deep split in Israeli society rather than build consensus. The Israeli left kept losing credibility and strength and bled almost to death.
Their tactics and philosophy have turned off the majority of ISRAELIS.
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.
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.