Another Tack: In the Land of Oz

Amos Oz doesn't stand to lose by his provocation. Quite the contrary, the neo-Nazi defamation can do him nothing but a whole lot of good.

Yigal Tumarkin’s portrait of his friend Amos Oz, entitled “Oz in a mask of Oz.”  (photo credit: JERUSALEM POST ARCHIVE)
Yigal Tumarkin’s portrait of his friend Amos Oz, entitled “Oz in a mask of Oz.”
Meretz’s grand guru Amos Oz has told us that, being “a man of words,” he carefully considers his every utterance and its possible nuances. This was his practice, the novelist attests, ahead of his recent 75th birthday gala where he berated “Hebrew neo-Nazis.”
No inadvertent slip of the tongue, it was Oz’s premeditated refinement of Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz’s infamous “Judeo-Nazis” denigration. That bilious barb against Israeli soldiers – also calculated and never retracted – cost Leibowitz his Israel Prize in 1993 (when then-premier Yitzhak Rabin threatened to boycott the ceremony).
But Oz doesn’t stand to lose by his provocation. Quite the contrary, the Neo-Nazi defamation can do him nothing but a whole lot of good.
If anything, it has given a major boost to his tireless campaign to at long last win the Novel Prize for literature. Oz, already the darling of literati and glitterati in Germany – the Nazis’ original homeland – can only win hearts and minds in Israel-bashing Europe if he seems to join Europe’s crusade against his compatriots.
The more he dissociates himself from the Israeli majority and the greater the zest with which he whacks it, the more Oz appears to cleanse himself of our Jewish sins. The more assiduously he cleanses himself, the more Oz gets to bask in the ambiance of European approval. He’s generously showered with accolades from latter-day Judeophobes parading as righteous critics of villainous Israeli policies.
In the Nobel Committee context, the very semblance of post-Zionist enlightenment can jack up a pretentious author’s junk bonds to hot-issue stock. Hence Oz has done his Nobel quest no disservice by charging that assorted graffiti-scrawlers are scary Neo-Nazi fiends.
The progeny and/or veiled torchbearers of actual Nazis cannot but be thrilled to quote a native of the Jewish state carping about the presence therein of “Hebrew Neo-Nazis.” This surely can help facelift more than a little European ugliness and for that favor Oz will doubtless be handsomely recompensed.
To be sure, this by no means is Oz’s first inflammatory taunt. At a June 8, 1989 Peace Now rally, Oz decreed that “Gush Emunim is a messianic sect, closed-minded and cruel, a band of armed gangsters, perpetrators of crimes against humanity, sadists, pogromists and murderers who crept out of a dark corner of Judaism, from the cellars of bestiality and defilement, in order to impose their bloodthirsty mad ritual.”
The above was a mere forerunner of further invective. Oz has regularly spouted similar vitriol over the quarter of a century that separates his two mouthfuls.
And there was plenty more besides meticulously-phrased revilement. Oz, for example, visited convicted murderer Marwan Barghouti in prison and later sent him the Arabic translation of his book A Tale of Love and Darkness, replete with the following personal dedication:"This story is our story. I hope you read it and understand us better, as we attempt to understand you. Hoping to meet soon in peace and freedom..."
For those who may have forgotten, here’s a reminder of whom Oz dreams of freeing. Barghouti, one-time commander of the particularly vicious Fatah offshoot of Tanzim, is doing five life terms and another 40 years for attempted murder. He was found guilty by an Israeli civilian court on May 20, 2004 of five counts of murder, including commissioning and organizing the attack on Tel Aviv’s Seafood Market restaurant, where three guests partaking in a bachelorette party were shot to death.
Yet inexplicably Barghouti boasts numerous leftwing Israeli fans, who unstintingly advocate his release on the unsubstantiated grounds that he alone can revive the moribund peace process. In their eyes, Barghouti’s goodwill is trustworthy and irreproachable.
With eyes wide shut, our self-professed omniscients presume to exude pragmatism – although its ramifications undermine the cause of justice, first and foremost for Barghouti’s victims. Moreover, the probability is that implementing what the convict’s groupies recommend would merely liberate a dangerous antagonist, an occurrence likely to trigger new terror onslaughts of the sort Barghouti masterminded in the past.
Hadn’t the homicidal spree he unleashed in unequivocal contravention of the Oslo Accords already abundantly underscored Barghouti’s deceitfulness and thereby disqualified him as an interlocutor?
Oz never explained precisely how, in his incisive analysis, Barghouti was transformed from a killer into a peace-lover. Oz never clarified why he ignores Barghouti’s oftentimes bellicose rhetoric when it ostensibly contradicts Peace Now’s pro forma agenda. Neither has Oz expounded on what would happen if the hopes he pins on Barghouti would be violently frustrated.
But this is the crux of the matter, to say nothing of the fact that bringing terrorists to trial is no trifling task. Members of Israel’s security forces literally put their lives on the line to track down and capture terror linchpins. When Oz advocates naïve experiments to turn murderers into synthetic negotiating partners, he devalues their apprehenders’ sacrifice.
He expresses equal contempt for our judicial system – one of the most autonomous, equitable and progressive in the entire democratic world. By downplaying multiple murder convictions, Oz invalidates verdicts, delegitimizes our courts and damages Israel’s legal reputation beyond repair.
Nonetheless, perhaps that’s just the notoriety the Nobel-coveter is after. Perhaps the lure of fame and fortune tempts him to pooh-pooh the fact that Barghouti had earned his status with the blood of slain and maimed Israelis.
Zion Swirry – whose son Doron, daughter Sharon and son-in-law Yaniv were murdered by Barghouti’s henchmen – can’t lay claim to Oz’s sophistication or celebrity. But he’s not short of common sense. And so he responded to Oz’s aspersion: “No way can you compare graffiti to Nazism that extinguished six million of our people’s lives. Warmly dedicating a book to a murderer is much worse than spray-painting a slogan on a wall.”
Indeed, the vehemence which Oz and his disciples spend on the graffiti-sprayers proliferates in inverse proportion to the silence with which they greet Arab-perpetrated barbarities. In all the spates of carnage unleashed upon us during recent decades – and especially since Oslo’s gory advent – there was a marked absence of emotional outpouring and indignant denunciation from Oz and his faithful followers.
Oz might have thrown in a prudent token sentiment of displeasure about Arab butchery. Oz might have mentioned those who lost their lives or whose lives will never be the same again as a direct consequence of Arab attacks, including rock-throwing. He might have made a minimal effort to balance his sanctimonious wrath against scribblers of infantile mottos.
This observation is in no way meant to even hint at any equivalence between stupid graffiti and assaulting innocents. Graffiti can be washed off or painted over. Slaughtered victims of Arab/Muslim homicide cannot be resurrected. This indisputable detail shouldn’t prove beyond the rudimentary grasp of even an esteemed author.
Neither should it be haughtily dismissed by the left-dominated media which relishes in manufacturing Jewish “racism” and Jewish “hate-crimes” but glosses over “nationalist-motivated” Arab atrocities. Woe to the pitiable journalist who deviates from its obligatory verbal codes or fails to garnish his/her reports with de rigueur pejoratives about arch-terrorists armed with paint, chalk or spray-cans.
Their infamy is excitedly broadcast to a world eager to magnify so-called Israeli malevolence and rationalize Arab bloodlust. With colossal chutzpah the Palestinian Authority already demands that governments abroad and international organizations list the objects of Oz’s scorn as terrorists.
When we forget ambushed Jewish tots while focusing fixatedly on graffiti, we do more than distort values. We undermine our own self-preservation, please real neo-Nazis (or their more genteel parlor versions) and, most of all, we play into the hands of contemporary adherents of Nazi-collaborator and wanted war criminal Haj Amin al-Husseini. Al-Husseini’s ideological heirs aim to continue Hitler’s mission and annihilate as many Jews as they can for the crime of having been born to Jewish parents.
But the Oz in-crowd doesn’t give a hoot. It absolves Barghouti of terrorist massacres while it passionately loathes those broadly denigrated as “settlers.” Tenaciously clinging to values long ago discarded by conceited talking heads, the much-maligned settlers are physically and psychologically distant from Tel Aviv’s clubs and cafes, besides being anathema to the elite’s fashion police.
Therefore, it doesn’t matter who actually sprays graffiti. We can’t discount agent-provocateurs of the Avishai Raviv ilk and we can’t in given cases discount Arab instigators (considering how lame the Hebrew is in some inscriptions). Neither can we discount underage fools inside the hallowed Green Line, who are inspired by the press pandemonium.
The more the graffiti-daubers are decried, the more their idiocy becomes a contagious fad. The more hysterical the hullabaloo, the more kooky copycats it spawns – to the undisguised delight of Oz and cronies.
Incensed howls berating Israel’s alleged innate bigotry reverberate around the globe. The breasts of generic Israelis are beaten with exultant relish and the din of disingenuous recriminations has become earsplitting. Entire sectors of our society are jeeringly stereotyped. Blaming them is hoarsely upheld as the pluralist cause célèbre.
Meanwhile, steam is building up where Arabs hurling deadly rocks and firebombs are largely ignored by the media, where violence against Jews is tolerated, where the victims are blamed and deprecated, where dead Jews get less attention than imbecilic graffiti.
Lack of minimal mainstream understanding for those despised by the Oz cheerleading squad breeds hopelessness and hopelessness breeds alienation. When people are estranged and pushed into dark corners, they eventually break bounds.
Crazies thrive where no steam can be vented and where protest is discredited and stifled, where no sane options are left, where no course corrections are possible, where no avenue of action with a sliver of a chance to succeed is left open, where misdemeanors are inflated into major felonies, where imperious adjudicators of superior tastes consider some of their fellow citizens transparent or worthless.
At the same time, these copywriters of our conventional wisdom – Oz prominent among them – make liberal allowances for our enemies. This is why nobody appears overly flustered by ongoing and unmitigated Arab pursuance of genocide and ethnic cleansing.
Put bluntly, our opinion-molders of the Oz prototype somewhat identify with the point of view of those who viscerally hate us. In the Land of Oz, we deserve no better. In the Land of Oz, it’s probably all our fault anyway. Seen that. Been there. End of story.
Debunking the Bull, Sarah Honig’s book, was recently published by Gefen.