JTA — Israeli author David Grossman suggested Israel’s occupation of parts of the West Bank had turned into an “apartheid” government in an interview on Thursday.
“Maybe it should no longer be called an ‘occupation,’ but there are much harsher names, like ‘apartheid,’ for example,” he told Army Radio.
Grossman, one of Israel’s most prominent authors, said the government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was “good and important.”
“But it cannot do the most important thing — cure Israel of the sick evil that is the occupation,” he said.
Grossman has used the word “apartheid” to describe Israel’s occupation before. The writer, who lost a son in the second Lebanon War in 2006, addressed a group of Israelis and Palestinians who lost family members in the conflict at an event in 2018.
“When Israel occupies and oppresses another nation, for 51 years, and creates an apartheid reality in the occupied territories — it becomes a lot less of a home,” he said.
Grossman was honored with the Israel Prize, the country’s top civilian honor, in 2018, in recognition of his contributions to Hebrew literature. The prize is awarded by a committee appointed by the education ministry. At the time that Grossman was honored, Bennett was the minister of education.
“I know we don’t hold the same political positions, but it makes no difference,” Bennett said at the time. (Bennett’s education minister, Yifat Shasha-Biton, blocked a professor from receiving the award last month on the grounds that he allegedly backs boycotts against Israel.)
Grossman’s works, which have been translated into dozens of languages and often address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, have won other prestigious awards such as the Man Booker Prize and the Jewish Book Council’s National Jewish Book Award.