Amos Oz’s Dear Zealots – Letters from a Divided Land (New York: Mariner Books, English translation 2019) is worth every page, paragraph, and sentence.
Composed of three essays in 136 pages, Oz clarifies so much of what is taking place in Israel, the occupied territories, the United States, and around the world.
His first essay “Dear Zealots” takes on the pernicious danger of zealotry in religion, politics, and society at large. The second “Many Lights, Not One Light” evokes the essence of Judaism as a religion, culture, people, and civilization. And the third “Dreams Israel Should Let Go of Soon” warns Israelis to stop the settlement enterprise before the one-state solution becomes de jure. Oz believes that the one state solution will not be bi-national. Rather, it will become an Arab state eventually taken over by Arab extremist zealots (i.e. Hamas) making life intolerable for both Jews and Palestinians.
Oz ends the final essay with these words:
“I am extremely fearful for the future. I fear the government’s policies, and I am ashamed of them. I am afraid of the fanaticism and the violence, which are becoming increasingly prevalent in Israel, and I am also ashamed of them. But I like being Israeli. I like being a citizen of a country where there are eight and a half million prime ministers, eight and a half million prophets, eight and a half million messiahs. Each of us has our own personal formula for redemption, or at least for a solution. Everyone shouts, and few listen. It’s never boring here. It is vexing, galling, disappointing, sometimes frustrating and infuriating, but almost always fascinating and exciting. What I have seen here in my lifetime is far less, yet also far more, than what my parents and their parents ever dreamed of.”
These essays clarify, edify, and provoke. They are must reading for anyone who cares about Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.