Amos Oz slams Netanyahu but chides left for naiveté

Author calls for two states, but says peace requires participation of both sides; accuses PM of isolating country

Amos Oz in Jerusalem, May 3, 2010 (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Amos Oz in Jerusalem, May 3, 2010 (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Esteemed author Amos Oz lashed out against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, but also attacked left-wingers who place blame for the diplomatic stalemate between Israelis and Palestinians squarely on the shoulders of Israelis.

“We have some people among us who have thought for many years that peace is a great, expensive toy on a very high shelf in a store,” Oz was quoted as saying by Army Radio. “There is a great Arabic proverb that says one needs two hands to clap. Assuming that peace is entirely up to Israel is, in my opinion, something arrogant,” Oz, a co-founder of the the Peace Now group, added.

Oz, who is considered one of the most accomplished authors in the history of Israeli literature, is also among the country’s most vocal left-wing activists and supporters of a two-state solution.

Speaking at a conference on the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli society at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya — a private institution of higher education in the Tel Aviv area — the novelist said Netanyahu and the right had caused the ostracism of Israel from the rest of the world. “The Netanyahu government… through the Jewish Home faction [and] also through the Likud, led the people of Israel to war against the world,” Oz said.

“Historically, we have already been in a war with the rest of the world and it did not end well,” continued the author.

Oz also warned that the country was headed toward disaster if a separate, distinct Palestinian state is not established. “If there are not two states here fast, there will be one state here. And it will be Arab from the sea to the Jordan River. If there is such a state, I envy neither our children nor our grandchildren,” Oz cautioned.

“Apart from Switzerland, all countries that are multinational or binational are creaking — or they collapsed,” he stated.

Citing the complicated situation in the Middle East, Oz went on to assert that the Israeli government had a unique opportunity to make peace with the Arab world, and that tensions could be reduced by neutralizing strife in the West Bank and making the Israel-Palestinian conflict an issue between Israel and Gaza.

The 75-year-old Jerusalem native concluded on a cautious note, emphasizing his belief in the need for a two-state solution: “There does not need to be a prophet of doom to tell you that soon airport workers in Europe will refuse to handle El Al planes and that people will refuse to buy Israeli products, which is already the case today.

“My Zionist starting point has always been simple: We are not alone in Israel and in Jerusalem, and neither are the Palestinians. We cannot become one happy family. There is another way: They are not going anywhere, they have nowhere to go; we have nowhere to go. The house should be divided into two families,” the author declared.

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