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Amos Oz: “What would you do…”

The author Amos Oz (his book Elsewhere Perhaps may be the Great Zionist Novel) has for decades been one of Israel’s most eloquent advocates of peace and compromise with the Palestinians.

In an interview this week with Deutsche Welle, Oz– who fought in the 1967 and 1973 wars– restated his commitment to “a two-state-solution and coexistence between Israel and the West Bank: Two capitals in Jerusalem, a mutually agreed territorial modification, removal of most of the Jewish settlements from the West Bank.” And he reaffirmed his belief that the occupation of the West Bank is corrupting to Israelis.

But this is how he started the interview:

Amoz Oz: I would like to begin the interview in a very unusual way: by presenting one or two questions to your readers and listeners. May I do that?

Deutsche Welle: Go ahead!

Question 1: What would you do if your neighbor across the street sits down on the balcony, puts his little boy on his lap and starts shooting machine gun fire into your nursery?

Question 2: What would you do if your neighbor across the street digs a tunnel from his nursery to your nursery in order to blow up your home or in order to kidnap your family?

With these two questions I pass the interview to you.

In a relatively few sentences, Oz makes Israel’s case in this war better than dozens of others have with tens of thousands of words.

The only alternative to continuing the Israeli military operation is simply to follow Jesus Christ and turn the other cheek. I never agreed with Jesus Christ about the need to turn the other cheek to an enemy. Unlike European pacifists I never believed the ultimate evil in the world is war. In my view the ultimate evil in the world is aggression, and the only way to repel aggression is unfortunately by force. That is where the difference lies between a European pacifist and an Israeli peacenik like myself. And if I may add a little anecdote: A relative of mine who survived the Nazi Holocaust in Theresienstadt always reminded her children and her grandchildren that her life was saved in 1945 not by peace demonstrators with placards and flowers but by Soviet soldiers and submachine guns.

Read it all.