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 Adapted from articles, interviews, and lectures from the 1960s and '70s, this is a provocative collection on Israeli society by one of the country's foremost novelists. In his lyrical prose, Oz (Fima, 1993, etc.) ponders such issues as Jewish identity, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the concept of a Zionist homeland. In his lengthy 1967 piece on ``the meaning of homeland,'' Oz defines a Jew as anyone who publicly acknowledges his or her Jewishness. Religious law alone, Oz contends, should not be the defining factor. A Jew, he argues, is someone who relates to the Jewish past and shares the fate of the Jewish present--whether voluntarily or by force. Oz perceives the annihilation of European Jewry as ``the logical outcome of the ancient status of the Jew in Western civilization.'' For thousands of years, he writes, the Diaspora Jew was ``an archetype in the dungeons of the Christian soul,'' making Auschwitz, not assimilation, the Jew's inevitable destiny. Zionism, Oz argues, is the sole option for a Jew who does not wish to exist merely as a ``symbol in the consciousness'' of strangers. And since the ancestral homeland of Israel has remained in the hearts and prayers of Jews for millennia, it was the logical locus of their quest for normalcy. Since Oz is not religious, however, his Zionism is more complex. He writes, ``I am a Zionist in all that concerns the redemption of the Jews, but not when it comes to the `redemption of the Holy Land.' '' He sees the Palestinian conflict as a struggle of ``right and right'' between two peoples with valid historical claims and grievances. He abhors the tendency of the Israeli right wing to deny the Palestinians' legitimacy, and he provides insights into Arab fears of the ``Satanic power of Zionism.'' Whether these musings touch upon the kibbutz, Israeli literature, or his early years in Jerusalem, Oz captivates the reader with his elegantly poetic voice.

Pub Date: April 26th, 1995
ISBN: 0-521-44367-9
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Cambridge Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1995


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