Israeli author Amos Oz.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Famed author and Israel Prize laureate Amos Oz said calling for the destruction of Israel is antisemitic and spoke out against the BDS movement on Tuesday night.
Speaking to Kirsty Wark of BBC’s Newsnight program, Oz said, “I can tell you exactly where I draw the line. If people call Israel nasty, I to some degree agree. If people call Israel the devil incarnate, I think they are obsessed – they are mad. But this is still legitimate.
“But if they carry on saying that therefore there should be no Israel, that’s where anti-Zionism becomes anti-Semitism, because none of them ever said after Hitler that Germany should cease to exist, or after Stalin that there should be no Russia,” he said.
“Saying that Israel should cease to exist, or should not have come into being, this is crossing the line,” he said.
When asked about his position regarding the BDS movement, Oz replied that he thinks the boycott is “hurting the wrong people.”
“The idea that all Israelis are villains is a childish idea. Israel is the most deeply divided, argumentative society. You’ll never find two Israelis who agree with one another – it’s hard to find even one who agrees with himself or herself,” he said.
“Boycott is the wrong way, because it hardens the Israeli resistance, and it deepens the Israeli paranoia that the whole world is against us, always has been against us, they don’t even discriminate between one Israeli and the next, they boycott all of us and whatever they do they are going to hate us, so let’s be bad guys for a change,” he told the BBC host.
Oz said that while the boycott was very effective in the case of South Africa, it does not apply to Israel.
“You have to be very stupid to think the prescription – the medicine that worked very well against cholera – will also kill the plague,” he said. “This is a kind of laziness, mental laziness. South Africa was bad.
The Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories is bad, in a totally different way. You need a different prescription.”
Oz was on the show to discuss his new book Judas, whose role in history was a “traitor.”
The author said that over time Judas’s story had become the “Chernobyl of Western antisemitism for 2,000 years.
More people paid with their blood for this bloody story than for any other story ever told. Pogroms, inquisitions, persecutions and the Holocaust, because in the populist mind all of us [Jews] are Judas,” he said.
Oz also called out the double standards and “hypocrisy” when it comes to Israel by many on the Left.
“There are many, many people in this country [UK] and the whole of Europe who have a very soft spot for the Third World, saying ‘Well those people have suffered a lot, you have to understand it is only natural they are violent,” he said. “When it comes to the Jews they often say: ‘Well they have suffered so much. How can they be violent after such an experience?’” Oz said he believes no one should try to be “100% pro-Israel or 100% pro-Palestine,” but said people should try to “grasp the complexity and the ambivalence of the clash between right and right and sometimes between wrong and wrong.”