I admit it, over the past week or two I’ve fallen unabashedly in love with Amos Oz’s ability to communicate, to take a maddeningly complex conflict that is fraught with emotion—one that at times seems hopelessly, even annoyingly intractable—and explain it in a way that I, as an outsider, can finally begin to wrap my head around.
I know there are many others out there who, like myself, often find the Israeli-Palestinian conflict too foreign, too complicated, too politically & emotionally charged to grasp in any meaningful way, and have therefore given up trying. This is for them.
I have no doubt that there are those who vehemently disagree with Mr. Oz’s point of view, however he’s not someone who can be dismissed as a self-hating Jew or some sort of far-left barking moonbat—he is very obviously neither. Here’s his Wiki page if you want to know more about him. You can also simply Google his name and find a ton of stuff (bio, interviews, essays, etc.)
Anyway, in this talk in Melbourne in 2011 he covers much (though not all) of the ground that’s in his book, How to Cure a Fanatic, which I read over this past weekend. He also covers some topics that weren’t in it. He said so many things that touched me, that made me laugh or cry, that I can’t even begin to cover them all (I especially enjoyed his description of who/how Israelis are).
The most important thing though, at least to me, is that he never fails to see people, never tries to deny them their dignity, their basic humanity. He doesn’t attempt to divide things in a ridiculously simplistic manner—e.g. these people are the good guys and those people are the bad guys, or this is a struggle between right and wrong. No, he says, this is a struggle between right and right.
He is honest, he’s fair, he’s rational, and he’s practical. Every one of his words that I’ve read or listened to so far have rung true.
From now on, if anyone asks about my stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I’ll answer by borrowing from his words at the end of the essay “Between Right and Right” regarding a two-state compromise being the only viable solution to what is, in essence, a property dispute (emphasis mine):
This is going to hurt like hell. So, if you have an ounce of sympathy to offer, now is the time to extend it to the two patients. You no longer have to choose between being pro-Israel and pro-Palestine. You have to be pro-peace.
I will be pro-peace. Thank you for the clarity, Mr. Oz.