Amos Oz: Wikis


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Amos Oz
עמוס עוז

Amos Oz, May 2005
Born Amos Klausner
4 May 1939 (1939-05-04) (age 70)
Jerusalem, Israel
Occupation Writer, Novelist and Journalist
Nationality Israeli
Spouse(s) Nily Oz

Amos Oz (Hebrew: עמוס עוז‎) (born May 4, 1939, birth name Amos Klausner) is an Israeli writer, novelist, and journalist. He is also a professor of literature at Ben-Gurion University in Be'er Sheva. Since 1967, he has been a prominent advocate and major cultural voice of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.



Nily Oz and Amos Oz in New York City, September 2008.

Oz was born in Jerusalem, where he grew up at No. 18 Amos Street in the Kerem Avraham neighborhood. Roughly half of his fiction is set within a mile of where he grew up. His parents, Yehuda Arieh Klausner and Fania Mussman were Zionist immigrants from Eastern Europe. His father studied history and literature in Vilnius, Lithuania. In Jerusalem his father was a librarian and writer. His maternal grandfather had owned a mill in Rovno, then Eastern Poland, now Western Ukraine, but moved with his family to Haifa in 1934. Many of Klausner's family members were right-wing Revisionist Zionists. His great uncle Joseph Klausner was the Herut party candidate for the presidency against Chaim Weizmann and was chair of the Hebrew literary society at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He and his family were distant from religion, disdaining what they perceived to be its irrationality. Yet he attended the community religious school Tachkemoni. The alternative was the socialistic school affiliated with the labor movement, to which his family was decidedly opposed in their political values. The noted poet Zelda was one of his teachers. For high school, he attended Gymnasia Rehavia.

His mother committed suicide when he was twelve, causing him repercussions that he would explore in his memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness. He became a Labor Zionist and joined kibbutz Hulda at the age of fifteen. There he was adopted by the Huldai family (whose firstborn son Ron now serves as mayor of Tel Aviv) and lived a full kibbutz life. At this time he changed his surname to "Oz", Hebrew for "strength". "Tel Aviv was not radical enough," he later said, "only the kibbutz was radical enough." However, by his own account he was "a disaster as a laborer... the joke of the kibbutz."[1] He remained living and working on the kibbutz until he and his wife Nily moved to Arad in 1986 on account of his son Daniel's asthma; however, as his writing career flowered he was allowed to gradually decrease his time devoted to normal kibbutz work: the royalties from his writing produced sufficient income for the kibbutz to justify this. In his own words, he "became a branch of the farm".[2]

Like most Israeli Jews, he served in the Israeli Defense Forces. In the late 1950s he served in the kibbutz-oriented Nahal unit and was involved in border skirmishes with Syria; during the Six-Day War (1967) he was with a tank unit in Sinai; during the Yom Kippur War (1973) he served in the Golan Heights.[2] After Nahal, Oz studied philosophy and Hebrew literature at the Hebrew University. Except for some short articles in the kibbutz newsletter and the newspaper Davar, he didn't publish anything until the age of 22, when he began to publish books. His first collection of stories Where the Jackals Howl appeared in 1965. His first novel Elsewhere, Perhaps was published in 1966. He began to write incessantly, publishing an average of one book per year on the Labor Party press, Am Oved. Oz left Am Oved despite his political affiliation. He went to Keter Publishing House because he received an exclusive contract that granted him a fixed monthly salary regardless of frequency of publication. His oldest daughter, Fania Oz-Salzberger, teaches history at Haifa University.

Oz has written 18 books in Hebrew, and about 450 articles and essays. His works have been translated into some 30 languages.[3][4][5]

Awards and honours

Oz has been considered in recent years one of the serious candidates to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.[13]

Literary career

Besides his fiction, Oz regularly publishes essays on the subjects of politics, literature, and peace. He has written extensively for the Israeli Labor newspaper Davar and (since the demise of Davar in the 1990s) for Yedioth Ahronoth. In English, his non-fiction has appeared in various places, including the New York Review of Books. Amos Oz is one of the writers whose work literary researchers study from a fundamental approach. At Ben-Gurion University in the Negev a special collection was established dealing with him and his works.

In his works Amos Oz tends to present protagonists in a realistic light with a light ironic touch. His treatment of the subject of the kibbutz in his writings is accompanied by a somewhat critical tone. Oz credits a 1959 translation of American writer Sherwood Anderson’s short story collection Winesburg, Ohio with his decision to “write about what was around me.” In A Tale of Love and Darkness, his memoir of coming of age in the midst of Israel’s violent birth pangs, Oz credits Anderson’s “modest book” with his own realization that "the written world … always revolves around the hand that is writing, wherever it happens to be writing: where you are is the center of the universe." In his 2004 essay "How to Cure a Fanatic" (later the title essay of a 2006 collection), Oz argues that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a war of religion or cultures or traditions, but rather a real estate dispute—one that will be resolved not by greater understanding, but by painful compromise.[14][15]

Political views

Amos Oz is among the most influential and well-regarded intellectuals in Israel. This regard is also evident in the societal realm where he regularly speaks out, although not as frequently as he did in the mid-1990s, when he received even more intense news coverage. Oz's positions are notably dovish in the political sphere and social-democratic in the socio-economic sphere. Oz was one of the first Israelis to advocate a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after the Six-Day War. He did so in a 1967 article "Land of our Forefathers" in the Labor newspaper Davar. "Even unavoidable occupation is a corrupting occupation," he wrote.[2] In 1978, he was one of the founders of Peace Now. Unlike some others in the Israeli peace movement, he does not oppose the construction of an Israeli West Bank barrier, but believes that it should be roughly along the Green Line, the pre-1967 border.[16]

He opposed settlement activity from the very first and was among the first to praise the Oslo Accords and talks with the PLO. In his speeches and essays he frequently attacks the non-Zionist left, to the point of self-abnegation as he says, and always emphasizes his Zionist identity. He is identified by many right-wing observers as the most eloquent spokesperson of the Zionist left. The following two quotes may help encapsulate his views:

Two Palestinian-Israeli wars have erupted in this region. One is the Palestinian nation's war for its freedom from occupation and for its right to independent statehood. Any decent person ought to support this cause. The second war is waged by fanatical Islam, from Iran to Gaza and from Lebanon to Ramallah, to destroy Israel and drive the Jews out of their land. Any decent person ought to abhor this cause." (April 7, 2002)

(Unofficial translation from Hebrew) Our biggest problem is the disappearance of social solidarity. A gross egotism is developing here, that isn't even ashamed of itself. Twenty years ago a girl from Bet Shean said on television "I'm hungry", and the doorposts shook (Isaiah 6:4). Yes, partly it was just lip service, but at least there was lip service. Today, even if she died of hunger on a live broadcast, nothing would happen, apart from high ratings and copywriters using the incident for their purposes. Anyone who once naively thought that the engine of the entrepreneurs and the rich would pull behind it a long train in which the rear cars would also go forward, was mistaken. That didn't happen. The engines are moving, and the rear cars are left behind on the rusting tracks. (September 6, 2002)

For many years Oz was identified with the Israeli Labor Party and was close to its leader Shimon Peres. When Shimon Peres was retiring from the leadership of the party, he is said to have named Oz as one of three possible successors, along with Ehud Barak (later Prime Minister) and Shlomo Ben-Ami (later Barak's foreign minister).[2] In the 90s Oz withdrew his support from Labor and went left to Meretz, where he had good, close connections with the leader, Shulamit Aloni. In recent years he described the Labor Party as a party that "in my view almost doesn't exist any more". In the elections to the sixteenth Knesset that took place in 2003, Oz appeared in the Meretz television campaign, calling upon the public to vote for Meretz.

In July 2006, Oz supported the Israeli army in its war with Lebanon, writing in the Los Angeles Times "Many times in the past, the Israeli peace movement has criticized Israeli military operations. Not this time. This time, the battle is not over Israeli expansion and colonization. There is no Lebanese territory occupied by Israel. There are no territorial claims from either side… The Israeli peace movement should support Israel's attempt at self-defense, pure and simple, as long as this operation targets mostly Hezbollah and spares, as much as possible, the lives of Lebanese civilians. [17][18]

Like fellow Israeli novelists David Grossman and A.B. Yehoshua , Amos Oz changed his position (of unequivocal support for a military act of "self-defense" at the outbreak of the war) in the face of the cabinet's decision at a later stage to expand operations in Lebanon. Grossman put their shared view into words at a press conference as he argued that Israel already exhausted its self-defense right.[19]

On December 26, 2008, a day before the Israeli offensive into Gaza commenced, Oz signed a statement published as an ad in Yediot Aharonot supporting military action against Hamas in Gaza. Two weeks later in a Yediot Aharonot article he advocated a ceasefire with Hamas and called attention to the harsh conditions there.[20] He was also quoted in the Italian Corriere della Sera as saying "Hamas is responsible" for the outbreak of violence, but "the time has come to seek a cease-fire." He called for a "complete cease-fire, in which they don't fire at us, in exchange for us easing the blockade of the Gaza Strip."[21] Oz also condemned some of the actions taken by the Israeli defence forces and called them war crimes.[22]

Published works



  • In the Land of Israel (essays on political issues) ISBN 015144644X
  • Israel, Palestine and Peace: Essays (1995) (Previously published: Whose Holy Land? (1994).)
  • Under This Blazing Light (1995) ISBN 0521443679
  • Israeli Literature: a Case of Reality Reflecting Fiction (1985) ISBN 0935052127
  • The Slopes of Lebanon (1989) ISBN 0151830908
  • The Story Begins: Essays on Literature (1999) ISBN 0151002975
  • A Tale of Love and Darkness (2003) ISBN 0151008787
  • How to Cure a Fanatic (2006) ISBN 9780691126692


  • Where the Jackals Howl (1965) ISBN 0151960380
  • Elsewhere, Perhaps (1966) ISBN 0151837465
  • My Michael (1968) ISBN 0394471466
  • Unto Death (1971) ISBN 0151930953
  • Touch the Water, Touch the Wind (1973) ISBN 0151908737
  • The Hill of Evil Counsel (1976) ISBN 070112248X ; ISBN 0151402345
  • Soumchi (1978) ISBN 0060246219 ; ISBN 0156001934
  • A Perfect Peace (1982) ISBN 015171696X
  • Black Box (1987) ISBN 015112888X
  • To Know a Woman (1989) ISBN 0701135727 ; ISBN 0151904995
  • Fima (1991) ISBN 0151898510
  • Don't Call It Night (1994) ISBN 0151001529
  • A Panther in the Basement (1995) ISBN 0151002878
  • The Same Sea (1999) ISBN 0151005729
  • The Silence of Heaven: Agnon’s Fear of God (2000) ISBN 0691036926
  • Suddenly in the Depth of the Forest (A Fable for all ages) (2005)
  • Rhyming Life and Death (2007) ISBN 978-0701182281

Short stories


  1. ^ Remnick, David, "The Spirit Level". The New Yorker, November 8, 2004, p.91
  2. ^ a b c d Ibid., p.92
  3. ^ "Heirs", a short story published in The New Yorker.
  4. ^ Bashan, Tal. "Oz For Change" [Oz Letmurah], Haaretz. September 6, 2002. *Oz, Amos. "An end to Israeli occupation will mean a just war", The Observer. April 7, 2002.
  5. ^ Remnick, David, "The Spirit Level". The New Yorker, November 8, 2004, 82-95.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Biography and Bibliography at the Institute for Translation of Hebrew Literature
  7. ^ "List of Bialik Prize recipients 1933-2004 (in Hebrew), Tel Aviv Municipality website". 
  8. ^ a b Biography at Jewish Virtual Library
  9. ^ "Israel Prize Official Site - Recipients in 1998 (in Hebrew)". 
  10. ^ Akiva Eldar, "Border Control / The Spanish conquest", Haaretz, 30/10/2007
  11. ^ "LITERATUR-AUSZEICHNUNG: Amos Oz gewinnt Heine-Preis" (in German). Spiegel Online. 21 June 2008.,1518,561226,00.html. 
  12. ^ "Dan David Prize Official Site - Laureates 2008". 
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ Review of A Tale of Love and Darkness from National Review
  15. ^ Review of The Slopes of the Volcano, from Azure magazine.
  16. ^ Ibid., p. 93
  17. ^ Caught in the crossfire; Hezbollah attacks unite Israelis Jul 19, 2006
  18. ^ Hezbollah Attacks Unite Israelis July 19, 2006
  19. ^ Author David Grossman's son killed - Israel News, Ynetnews
  20. ^ Oz, Amos (02.13.08). "Don’t march into Gaza". Yediot Aharonot.,7340,L-3506185,00.html. Retrieved 7 January 2009. 
  21. ^ "Amos Oz: Hamas responsible for outbreak of Gaza violence". December 30, 2008. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  22. ^

External links


See also


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Amos Oz (born 4 May 1939) is an Israeli novelist and journalist.


  • "Out there, in the world, all the walls were covered with graffiti: 'Yids, go back to Palestine,' so we came back to Palestine, and now the worldatlarge [sic] shouts at us: 'Yids, get out of Palestine.'"
    • A Tale of Love and Darkness (2003)
    • quoted on U.S. radio program "Fresh Air", December 1, 2004 [1]
  • The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been a tragedy, a clash between one very powerful, very convincing, very painful claim over this land and another no less powerful, no less convincing claim. Now such a clash between right claims can be resolved in one of two manners. There's the Shakespeare tradition of resolving a tragedy with the stage hewed with dead bodies and justice of sorts prevails. But there is also the Chekhov tradition. In the conclusion of the tragedy by Chekhov, everyone is disappointed, disillusioned, embittered, heartbroken, but alive. And my colleagues and I have been working, trying...not to find the sentimental happy ending, a brotherly love, a sudden honeymoon to the Israeli-Palestinian tragedy, but a Chekhovian ending, which means clenched teeth compromise.
  • The minute we leave south Lebanon we will have to erase the word Hezbollah from our vocabulary, because the whole idea of the State of Israel versus Hezbollah was sheer folly from the outset. It most certainly no longer will be relevant when Israel returns to her internationally recognized northern border.
    • "Try a Little Tenderness" (interview) in Ha'aretz, March 17, 2000.
  • The [political] left are people with an imagination and the right are those without an imagination.
    • "Between Oz and Ayalon" (interview), the Supplement to Shabbat, 21 November 2008, Yedioth Ahronoth, p. 2.

External links

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