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Nazi Epithet Removes Amos Oz From Israeli Discourse

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Israeli author Amos Oz

Israeli author Amos Oz
Photo Credit: Tomer Neuberg /Flash 90

The true shame about Amos Oz’s epithet “neo-Nazi” to describe Israeli price-tag thugs is that the essence of his comments are important food for thought. But by choosing outrageous populist rhetoric over nuanced criticism, Oz essentially relegated his concerns to the wastebasket of history.

Before rejecting Oz’s comments, it is important to note that he could be an important social voice for Israelis of every stripe. His books, from My Michael to In the Land of Israel to A Tale of Love and Darkness reveal a passion for Israeli society, and for the Land of Israel, that few contemporary writers have managed to capture. Oz’s 1950s-era Jerusalem is a quiet border town where observant and secular Jews lived together as neighbors. His writing betrays a deep, emotional connection to the city, and to the Jerusalemites with whom he shared his adolescent years.

Oz’s relationship with Jewish tradition is less obvious, but a close reading of his work in Hebrew brings to mind another of Israel’s leading writers: Nobel laureate Shai Agnon. In contrast to Agnon, Oz’s work does not obviously draw on traditional sources or Jewish history. But he is clearly influenced by Agnon, and perhaps therefore by Agnon’s close relationship with Jewish sources. In short, it is simply impossible to dismiss Amos Oz as a “self-hating” Jew or Israeli.

All of which is what makes Oz’s absurd comparison of price tag vandals to European neo-Nazis so upsetting. Self-criticism is a sign of strength, not weakness, and many of Oz’s observations about the religious-Zionist world are deserving of consideration. Yes, many religious Zionist communities have failed to excise the price taggers from their midsts (public condemnations from religious Zionist leaders notwithstanding, does anyone doubt that price taggers would be awarded aliyot [Torah honors] at most synagogues in Judea and Samaria?). It is true that the price taggers enjoy a certain measure of backing, stated or implied, from rabbinic figures in Judea and Samaria and farther afield. Religious Zionist would do well to consider those facts.

Similarly, the need to denigrate Muslims or Christians in order to validate Judaism, settlement activity or our historic connection to the Land of Israel is a sad comment on the state of Torah Judaism. Is our belief in the Torah really that shaky that we feel a need to bring down other faiths, rather than rely on the validity of ours?

Our rights to and in the Land of Israel not dependent on rejecting other groups, and it does not do our community proud to be associated with pathetic grafitti. It is rightly a point of pride that Israel is a haven for religious freedom. It should go without saying that minority groups need not be made to feel subject to attack.

These criticisms are valid, or at least are important points for discussion, in our communities. Oz is correct to ask whether a Judaism that relies on insulting others is a Judaism we want to sustain.

But his use of the epithet “Nazi” effectively reduces his views to little more than the wild ranting of a hate-filled man. By equating graffiti on a mosque wall to the gas chambers for which real neo-Nazis clamor, Oz has taken himself out of the realm of legitimate social commentator. His comments are no longer astute, concerned observations about Israeli society, but rather venomous invective directed at a subset of that society that Oz has designated as “enemy.” If the settlement community are neo-Nazis, if Judea and Samaria Israelis – rather than the price tagging minority here – are the errant weed of Israeli society, it stands to reason there can be no compromise on the uprooting of their communities and of the total neutralization of their role in society.

Avi Tuchmayer

About the Author: Avi is a news writer for The Jewish Press. In the past, he has covered Israel and the Jewish world for Israel National News, Ami magazine and other international media.

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  1. No one who values decency and human rights and kindness should ever this this man’s name again.

  2. Martin Kool says:

    Sad and a sick mind

  3. David Bryan says:

    when spray paint is the same as gas chambers? Then I will listen. til then it’s crap.

  4. he should have weighted his words before uttering them. He did the same as Kerry using the words “Apartheid” and “intifada” at the worst possible time and in the silliest lashing out in frustration: he made himself irrelevant and that’s too bad.

  5. איש של מילים כתובות, שיואיל לסתום את הפה. יפה נפש במשמעות הערלה של המונח.

  6. If the IDF was liberating Judea and Samaria with places like Beth El, Shiloh and Hebron, no vandals would have to be doing the job clandestine.
    Israel, inherit the land that G-d gave to you!

  7. David Blatt says:

    Leave it to the Jewish Press to deflect the issues this good man raised

  8. He reminds of the soviet jews who formed Anti-zionist committee in USSR to prove their loyalty to the Communist Party, they also liked to use degrading epithets to describe Israeli Jews and Jews living USSR. and Jewish press is absolutely correct in its assessment.

  9. He reminds of the soviet jews who formed Anti-zionist committee in USSR to prove their loyalty to the Communist Party, they also liked to use degrading epithets to describe Israeli Jews and Jews living USSR. and Jewish press is absolutely correct in its assessment.

  10. Ben II says:

    who cares what some ridiculous lefty piece of garbage Oz has to say? Let him go join his buddies at Hamas or he can move to Syria.

  11. Dan Silagi says:

    Yes, Yigal Amir and Baruch Goldstein should be admired as the "heroes" they were. In what way were those two any better than Nazis, Wet Noodles?

  12. Judith Dowla says:

    International Court for this man rather like Judgement at Nurenburg would you imply he needs to be tried for international criminal acts.

  13. Jacky Horner says:

    And had he lived in Bar Kochba's time you might have suggested that he might have just prevented that stupid uprising against the great power of that time and prevented the Jews being slaughtered and booted out of our ancestral home for 2000 years.
    Also Rabbi there is very little different in the atrocious behaviour of the Tag Mechir hooligans and early Nazism

  14. We are supposed to the Chosen People and this obligates us to aspire to a higher standard. Unlike you, I live in Israel – in Samaria to be exact. Your comments imply that all Gentiles in Israel are guilty of raping, torturing and murdering Jews or pulling at their Payot are a misrepresentation of the truth. Terrorists and graffiti writers on both sides need to be brought to justice. Your comments are irresponsible and do not befit those of a Rabbi.

  15. Dan Silagi says:

    Judith Dowla The Third Reich is more "Rabbi" Friedman's speed.

  16. While I agree that Amos Oz's description is a gross exaggeration, I also believe that your attempt to underplay this as graffiti is equally irresponsible. These perpetrators of these disgraceful acts are racists and it is incumbent upon us to disassociate ourselves from their disgusting and completely unacceptable behavior.

  17. Dan Silagi says:

    He'll send his son in his place, Judy. Just like he did the last time.

  18. This is unadulterated garbage.

  19. Cody Flecker says:

    Judith Dowla Are you NUTS or something? Please read what you write and be more alert.

  20. David Blatt Thank you for letting us know where your allegiances lie. Amos Oz is not a good man. He’s the one deflecting the issues. Nothing more despicable than a self hating Jew (this might include you). His removal is well deserved and long overdue.

  21. Dan Silagi says:

    That's not correct. 4-D was for ordained ministers. There was a 2-D deferment for those studying to be ordained ministers. It was NOT for eternal students in Kollel or yeshiva. You had to get your smicha in a certain period of time, or in you went. Right into the infantry.

  22. Uzi Kattan says:

    Dan Silagi You are a leftist pig to call Rabbi Friedman a Nazi. Your comments are obscene but typical of leftists. You forget that Nazi means National SOCIALIST. The Torah obligates us to remove the non Jews from the Land if yo read Parashat Mattot, G-d tells us to remove the people there from the land so they don't commit terrorist atrocities against Jews. The ones who are calling to make parts of Israel Judenrein (free of Jews) are your ilk who want a terrorist state in the heart of Israel. It is NOT their land! G-d gave the land to His people and the Arabs can go to Arabia!

  23. Kjeld Hesselmann says:

    I think it’s timely to hold on to perspectives regarding who is intimidating who. In Israel and elsewhere Muslims disturb common order. And Israel holds a Muslim population over the critical level implying severe trouble in the land they inhabit. – In Europe it’s countries like France, UK, and Sweden, which are close to dangerous encounters with their Muslim “guests," the situation sharpens as in Judea and Samaria. With such guests, one needs only to hope for a genuine foe.

  24. Dan Silagi says:

    Didn't you just write that you want Israel to be goyimrein, hypocrite?

  25. When intellectuals go from 100 to zero. Amos should change his name to Amos Nozea

  26. And if the goyim follow the Word of Hashem? But are not converts? What then?

  27. Hashem helps those who help themselves. He who waits for Hashem to hand them salvation, will wait forever. But he who waits on Hashem, who serves him as a true servant, will be rewarded according to his faith. Bear this in mind, and ask for the right thing. It will be granted to you.

  28. Oz like all leftists is a hypocrite. He wouldn't dare call actual Muslim or Arab murderers and terrorists Neo Nazis instead he compares tire slashers and graffiti vandals to Nazis. He should be ashamed of himself for such a ridiculous comparison.

  29. When our own turn against us, adding themselves to the legions of Muslim and Arab terrorists, liars and libel spreaders, and the Europeans who hate Jews with so much passion – well then, they are best ignored in every sense. I will not be reading Amos Oz again, and am deeply saddened by his ill-thought comments directed at those who are simply sick and tired of being terrorised in their daily lives and wish – however ill-advisedly – to fight back.

  30. Dan Silagi May you and yours know only OSOH HAMACHALOW! Does your mother know you are an anti-Semite!? The Almighty tells us in Numbers 33,"If you do not evict the gentiles they shall be as thorns in your eyes and as pointed instruments in your sides." Shagatz Silagi do you have the same slurs against HaShem-Almighty? If you lived in the Chanukah era you would have been executed by the Macabbees, as they executed tens of thousand of Jewish traitors! To bad your parents did not abort you! Your parents should not have survived the Holocaust and instead other Jews been saved. Your simply a DRACK!!! Watch Judaism Wednesday bcat.tv 10:00Am and 6:00PM New York Time scroll down to Community media then click on Brooklyn Network then Click arrow in Channel 2

  31. Uzi Kattan says:

    Dan Silagi you are a sick Jew hater. Baruch Goldstein saved the Jews of Hevron from an Arab massacre and Yigal Amir was entrapped by the government to shoot Rabin who deserved it.

  32. Dan Silagi says:

    Uzi Kattan Baruch Goldstein was as much a Jewish "hero" as Osama Bin Laden was a Muslim hero. Unfortunately, there are many Muslims who regard Osama as a hero. Fortunately, there are only a tiny minority of Jewish s who regard Baruch Goldstein and Yigal Amir as such.

  33. Dan Silagi says:

    You can say this directly to my face, "Rabbi," right up close and personally. Name the time and place.

  34. it took you this long to recognize Amos Oz for a leftist idiot he is?

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