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Yehudah Arie Klausner and his son; Amos Oz
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Yehudah Arie Klausner (Odessa 1910 - Jerusalem 1970).
Many of Klausner's family members were right-wing Revisionist Zionists. His great uncle Joseph Klausner was the Herut party candidate for the presidency against Chaim Weizmann and was chair of the Hebrew literary society at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
He and his family were distant from religion, disdaining its irrationality. Yet he attended the community religious school Tachkemoni. The alternative was the socialistic school affiliated with the labor movement, to which his family was decidedly opposed in their political values. The noted poet Zelda was one of his teachers. His secondary schooling took place at the Hebrew high school Rehavia.
His mother died when he was twelve, causing him repercussions that he would explore in his memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness. He became a Labor Zionist and joined Kibbutz Hulda at the age of fifteen. There he was adopted by the Huldai family (whose firstborn son Ron now serves as mayor of Tel Aviv) and lived a full kibbutz life. At this time he changed his surname to "Oz", Hebrew for "strength". "Tel Aviv was not radical enough," he later said, "only the kibbutz was radical enough." However, by his own account he was "a disaster as a laborer... the joke of the kibbutz." [Remnick, 2004, p.91] He remained living and working on the kibbutz until he and his wife Nily moved to Arad in 1986 on account of his son Daniel's asthma; however, as his writing career flowered he was allowed to gradually decrease his time devoted to normal kibbutz work: the royalties from his writing produced sufficient income for the kibbutz to justify this. In his own words, he "became a branch of the farm". [Remnick, 2004, p.92]
Like most Jewish Israelis, he served in the Israeli Defense Forces . In the late 1950s he served in the kibbutz-oriented Nahal unit and was involved in border skirmishes with Syria; during the Six-Day War (1967) he was with a tank unit in Sinai; during the Yom Kippur War (1973) he served in the Golan Heights . [Remnick, 2004, p.92]
After Nahal, Oz studied philosophy and Hebrew literature at the Hebrew University. Except for some short articles in the kibbutz newsletter and the newspaper Davar, he didn't publish anything until the age of 22, when he began to publish books. His first collection of stories Where the Jackals Howl appeared in 1965. His first novel Elsewhere, Perhaps was published in 1966. He began to write incessantly, publishing an average of one book per year on the Labor Party press, Am Oved.
Oz left Am Oved despite his political affiliation. He went to Keter because he received an exclusive contract that granted him a fixed monthly salary regardless of frequency of publication.
His oldest daughter, Fania, teaches history at Haifa University.
Oz was awarded his country's most prestigious prize: the Israel Prize for Literature in 1998, the fiftieth anniversary year of Israel's independence. In 2005, he was awarded the Goethe Prize from the city of Frankfurt, Germany, a prestigious prize which was awarded in the past to the likes of Sigmund Freud and Thomas Mann for his life's work.
He has written 18 books in Hebrew, and about 450 articles and essays. His works have been translated into some 30 languages.
In 2007, he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award of Letters (received in previous years by Günter Grass, Arthur Miller, Doris Lessing, Paul Auster, Mario Vargas Llosa and Claudio Magris).
Besides his fiction, Oz regularly publishes essays on the subjects of politics, literature, and peace. He has written extensively for the Israeli Labor newspaper Davar and (since the demise of Davar in the 1990s) for Yedioth Ahronoth. In English, his non-fiction has appeared in various places, including the New York Review of Books.
Amos Oz is one of the writers whose work literary researchers study from a fundamental approach. At Ben-Gurion University in the Negev a special collection was established dealing with him and his works. Amos Oz has been considered in recent years one of the serious candidates to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. He received the Israel Prize in the category of literature in 1998.
In his works Amos Oz tends to present protagonists in a realistic light with a light ironic touch. His treatment of the subject of the kibbutz in his writings is accompanied by a somewhat critical tone.
In his 2004 essay "How to Cure a Fanatic" (later the title essay of a 2006 collection), Oz argues that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a war of religion or cultures or traditions, but rather a real estate dispute--one that will be resolved not by greater understanding, but by painful compromise.
His books other than novels include:
He has written the following novels.
Amos Oz is among the most influential and well-regarded intellectuals in Israel. This regard is also evident in the societal realm where he regularly speaks out, although not as frequently as he did in the mid-90s, when he received news coverage for every utterance.
Oz's positions are notably dovish in the political sphere and social-democratic in the socio-economic sphere. Oz was one of the first Israelis to advocate a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after the Six-Day War. He did so in a 1967 article "Land of our Forefathers" in the Labor newspaper Davar. "Even unavoidable occupation is a corrupting occupation," he wrote. [Remnick, 2004, p.92] In 1978, he was one of the founders of Peace Now. Unlike some others in the Israeli peace movement, he does not oppose the construction of an Israeli West Bank barrier, but believes that it should be roughly along the Green Line, the pre-1967 border. [Remnick, 2004, p.93]
He opposed settlement activity from the very first and was among the first to praise the Oslo Accords and talks with the PLO. In his speeches and essays he frequently attacks the non-Zionist left, to the point of self-abnegation as he says, and always emphasizes his Zionist identity. He is identified by many right-wing observers as the most eloquent spokesperson of the Zionist left.
A couple of quotes that express his positions well:
For many years Oz was identified with the Israeli Labor Party and was close to its leader Shimon Peres. When Shimon Peres was retiring from the leadership of the Israeli Labour Party, he is said to have named Oz as one of three possible successors, along with Ehud Barak (later prime minister) and Shlomo Ben-Ami (later Barak's foreign minister). [Remnick, 2004, p.92]
In the 90s Oz withdrew his support from Labor and went left to Meretz, where he had good, close connections with the leader, Shulamit Aloni. In recent years he described the Labor Party as a party that "in my view almost doesn't exist any more". In the elections to the sixteenth Knesset that took place in 2003, Oz appeared in the Meretz television campaign, calling upon the public to vote for Meretz.
In July 2006, Oz supported the Israeli army in its war with Lebanon, writing in the Los Angeles Times "Many times in the past, the Israeli peace movement has criticized Israeli military operations. Not this time. This time, the battle is not over Israeli expansion and colonization. There is no Lebanese territory occupied by Israel. There are no territorial claims from either side… The Israeli peace movement should support Israel's attempt at self-defense, pure and simple, as long as this operation targets mostly Hezbollah and spares, as much as possible, the lives of Lebanese civilians (not an easy task, as Hezbollah missile launchers are too often using Lebanese civilians as human sandbags)"