Since the late 60s, Amos Oz has been a prominent advocate and major cultural voice in the debate over a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Drawing on current affairs in Israel, the Middle East and beyond, Oz argues that the conflict, like other contemporary clashes, isn't really a war of religions or cultures. Essentially, it's a real-estate dispute. On another level, though, it's a battle between fanatics and moderates on both sides.
Fanatics, Oz says, are the scourge of our time, but really nothing new. What they all have in common is an uncompromising righteousness, a strange sense of selflessness, grand ideologies, plus a complete lack of humour. Instead, he emphasizes the importance of imagination in learning to define and respect each other's space, and examines the meaning of fair compromise in life, literature and politics.
On the conflict itself, Oz opines that Israelis and Palestinians are destined to be forever divided about the past. And that's okay ... neither needs to totally except the other's narrative. What they do have to do is accept that they need to live in peace in order to co-exist into the future.
His keynote address, "How to Cure a Fanatic", was given at an event organised by the Shalom Institute in Sydney. Afterwards, he was interviewed by ABC radio producer Michaela Kalowski.
Amos Oz is an Israeli writer, novelist, and journalist. He is also a professor of literature at Ben-Gurion University in Be'er Sheva as well as Distinguished Visiting Scholar to the Leon Liberman Chair in Modern Israel Studies at Melbourne's Monash University. Oz's work has been published in some thrity languages, including Arabic, in 35 countries. He has received many honours and awards, among them the French National Order of the Legion of Honour and the Israel Prize. In 2007, a selection from the Chinese translation of "A Tale of Love and Darkness" was the first work of modern Hebrew literature to appear in an official Chinese textbook.