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“An exemplary instance of a writer using his craft to come to grips with what is happening politically and to illuminate certain aspects of Israeli society that have generally been concealed by polemical formulas” — The New York TimesNotebook in hand Amos Oz traveled throughout Israel and the West Bank in the early 1980s to talk with workers soldiers religious zealots aging pioneers new immigrants desperate Arabs and visionaries asking them uestions about Israel’s past present and future What he heard is set down here in those distinctive voices alongside Oz’s observations and reflections A classic insider’s view of a land whose complex past and troubled present make for an uncertain future“Oz’s vignettes wondrously re create whole worlds with an economy of words” — Philadelphia Inuirer

10 thoughts on “In the Land of Israel

  1. says:

    I was by no means excited about having to read this for a class in college but i found it to be a phenomenal page turning piece of non fiction Though it is dated over 25 years old now it still has a lot to offer readers More than any textbook Oz describes the people and places of Israel so vividly you begin to feel as if you are visiting yourself It was undeniably helpful to me an American Christian who never really studied Israel in understanding the complex world of Israeli politics Moreover it helped me to see the extent to which Judaism was present in Israeli life He did a great job of giving Arabs a fair portrayal and a voice Occasionally I had a hard time believing Oz didn't make these characters up

  2. says:

    The book is composed of a series of interviews Oz has conducted with Israelis from different walks of life All of them are insightfully presented and illuminating of certain aspects of Israel's political and social turmoil; a few of them are frightening to read for the stark and brutal world view the interviewees hold and I do mean frightening Another thing that was really impressive about this book was that the author did not make any attempt to explain Israel's complicated political scene to the reader When you think about it perhaps the reason is that to do so would inevitably be to take sides in the various debates about the nature of the country Instead he presents himself openly as a participant in rather than an impartial presenter of those debates an uncommonly passionate and committed participant But then this books presents an Israel that is full of uncommonly passionate and committed participants in debates that have relevance far beyond IsraelFascinating reading

  3. says:

    In this break from fiction Oz travels Israel and the occupied territories allowing the people he encounters to talk about their feelings on the situation Oz hardly speaks at all and lets his interviewees rant and rave as much as the please and its refreshing because we are hearing the opinions from all over the socio political spectrum here The setting is 1982 so while those speaking are still raw from the first war with Lebanon

  4. says:

    One of the most insightful books I ever read It really gets into the psyche of Israelis and Palestinians without an objective These interviews by Amos Oz from 1982 are as relevant today as they every were I highly recommend this book to anyone that has an interest in really understanding the Jewish and Arab psyche in relation to the middle east

  5. says:

    This book is full of Story some parts challenging to read than others particularly because of the intermingled Israeli and Palestinian political and historical references that I'm beginning to grasp I know I'll re read it someday both to savor my favorite sections Oz in a cafe in Ramallah speaking with two young Arab men while a third older man sits uietly until the end with writers for an Arab newspaper in East Jerusalem and bearing witness to the story of an old pioneer who grew up under the Ottomans and saw his country change in unimaginable ways and to try again to absorb the maddening fascinating near stream of consciousness accounts from settlers fundamentalists and idealists My edition has an updated author note from 1993 the book was originally published in 1983 and I'd love to read another updated note from Oz for the 21st century

  6. says:

    Oz is an outstanding writer whether he is writing literature memoir or journalistic essays he manages to portray characters and events in all of their multilayered levels of complexity In this book he examines Israeli and Palestinian society during the 1980s at the height of the war in LebanonIn this journalistic venture Oz travels around Israel and interviews Israelis and Palestinians from all walks of life and political persuasions In the first five chapters he provides background on each setting followed a or less verbatim account of what his respondents said and how they said it Oz is one of the founders of Israel's peace movement Peace Now and in the sixth chapter he elouently explains his views on the need to end the occupation and form two states His arguments are grounded in and his moral philosophy and a compassionate pragmatism that ring true today

  7. says:

    A good read if like me you're fascinated by listening to the polemics of the Arab Israeli conflict ie the New York Times jocks it Otherwise nothing amazing just an extremely skilled journalist trotting around Israel interviewing people about their beliefs I could have lived with a bit editorializing because presumably it's just the author paraphrasing discussion and Amos Oz is my boy my dovish Jew boy uh yeah this book is pretty good

  8. says:

    Wonderful book Nicely written even through the translation and a fascinating walk through the many factions that make up Israel in the '80's He takes the reader through the experiences of the second and first generation Sephardic and Mizrachi Jews and their resentment of Ashkenazi domination of the Israeli political scene He explores the Settler movement the peaceniks who hate them and the Israeli Arabs and Palestinian Arabs who advocate war peace and everything in between The book is really a collection of interviews conversations and monologues on what Israel was is and should be woven together by the author giving context to the speakers in uestionThere are some wonderful uotes in this book enjoy a tasteListen friend a people that let iself be slaughtered and destroyed a people that let its children be made into soap and its women into lampshades is worse criminal than its tormentors Worse than the Nazis To live without fists without fangs and claws in a world of wolves is a crime worse than murder Fact Himmler and Heydrich and Eichmann's grandchildren live well on the fat of the land and even preach to us while they're at it and the grandchildren of the sainted rebbes of Eastern Europe and those humanistic pacifistic Jews who philosophize so prettily in Prague and Berlin they can't preach to anyone They're gone never to come back 94Is it possible that Hitler not only killed the Jews but also infected them with his poison? 98I ask Yisrael Harel where he thinks the major barricade stands in the Land of Israel right now He is silent for a long while before he replies 'With a number of reservations and only for the sake of brevity I'll put it this way the major barricade is the one that divides the Jews from the Israelis The Jews are those who want to live to one degree or another in accordance with the Bible The Israelis pay lip service but in essence they aspire to be a completely new people here a satellite of Western culture For many of those Israelis the Land of Israel is no than a 'biographical accident' As it happens they make a decent living here but if they were offered a better job somewhere else abroad they'd simply pack up and move Eretz Yisrael means very little to them' 115any ideology that does not contain at least a grain of belief in the absolute is destined to decay 117Were I to skip directly to the bottom line and put it dramatically I would formulate it this way You people are convinced that to relinuish Judea and Samaria would endanger the existence of the State of Israel I think that the annexation of these regions endangers the existence of the State of Israel 128

  9. says:

    This book from 1983 presents a series of interviews and discussions that Oz conducted with people with various points of view including Jews Palestinian Arabs and even a Christian cleric regarding the Israeli Palestinian conflict and the future of the State of Israel Other excellent books such as My Promised Land by Arie Shavit see also Like Dreamers by Yossi Klein Halevi provide a up to date perspective on these uestions Oz’s book is nonetheless worth reading for three reasons 1 deploying his writerly skills Oz does a wonderful job of bringing diverse perspectives to life on the page; 2 the conversations are helpful for understanding the state’s history and to some degree are relevant to issues today; and perhaps most importantly 3 Oz presents an impassioned argument for a liberal democratic secular vision of the Jewish State Responding to fervent right wing secular and religious views that Israel’s mission as a Jewish State is to dominate the Arab population within Israel rule over the Palestinians on the West Bank and to incorporate all of the territories occupied in 1967 into a Greater Israel Oz presents an elouent and forceful counter argument The paperback edition includes an afterward written in the early 1990’s

  10. says:

    What Oz heard at different corners of Israel in 1982This book is a collection of streams of consciousness that the author listened to and reconstructed with his own commentaries and deliberation and published in the weekend editions of Davar the daily paper that was the mouthpiece of the original party of Ben GurionIn of themselves these independent windows into the existence and views of Israelis from different walks of life is well written interesting and very educational Clearly a caleidoscope of lifeThe author's thoughts and vew points which he put to those he engaged did not affect any and obviously not very popular or accepted neither then or 30 years later All they accomplished was to bring to light a deep split in Israeli society rather than build consensus The Israeli left kept losing credibility and strength and bled almost to deathTheir tactics and philosophy have turned off the majority of ISRAELIS