Abraham Yehoshua, goodbye to one of the tenors of Jewish culture

Avraham B. Yehoshuaone of the most honored and prolific novelists of Israel and a loyal supporter of Palestinian rights he left us. With Amos Oz And David Grossman he was part of the trio of “tenors” of Jewish culture, the one peace patrol who were not afraid to take unpleasant attitudes, such as those about peace and coexistence with Palestinians during military occupation for over 50 years.

Amos Oz has already been leaving us for some time. In line with those in his books and in the pages of Israeli newspapers, he strongly supported a split between Israelis and Palestinians, a solution to the conflict at. two states, as provided for in the Oslo Accords, for which the United States and the European Union would be guarantors. An outspoken man who, after supporting the “two-state” solution in recent years, had understood that it was no longer viable.

Yehoshua received for his friends “Buli” in 1995 the most important Israeli cultural award,Israel Prize, along with dozens of other prizes, including the Bialik Prize and the Jewish National Book Prize, and his work has been translated into 28 languages. For most of his life, Yehoshua lived in mixed-Jewish-Arab cities: Jerusalem And Haifa. Yet, at about the same time, he moved to Givatayim, one of Israel’s most homogeneous cities, making a breathtaking U-turn. After advocating for the two-state solution for 50 years, he announced in a series of articles in “Haaretz” that such a solution had become impractical. “What must be done,” he wrote, “is to give to all Arabs vest Bank and citizenship of East Jerusalem within the framework of a single Arab-Jewish state ”. In 2016 – announced in a conversation we had in his book-filled house overlooking the sea a few days earlier – he wrote in an article that Israel should start giving status as place of residence And citizenship to the approximately 100,000 Arabs living in Area C in the West Bank (which is under total Israeli control), echoing the plan of the former director general of the Yesha Settlement Council, Naftali Bennett, who is now Prime Minister.

It does not happen every day that a person over 80 years you change your mind, and not all societies have experienced a revision of the approach like that of its greatest living writer, let alone the issue that has divided society since the birth of the state: the conflict with the Arabs. The astonishment is all the greater when one considers that Yehoshua in his writings, both in his essays and in his fiction, has often spoken out strongly against the idea of ​​blurring boundaries in general and between Jews and Palestinians in particular.

Nitza Ben-Dov, herself a literary scholar and winner of the Israel Prize, writes well when she explains that Yehoshua’s literary work has changed dramatically over the years, from surrealistic stories to realistic novels, but has above all remained in harmony with the society in which he lived. “His awareness of human complexity, which he drew from his own experience, made his work multifaceted.”

Defender of Palestinians and supporter of Israeli left-wing parties, Yehoshua was also a member of the public council of the prominent Israeli rights group B’tselem, who is fiercely critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Many of his greatest works probably came to define the era in which they were published. “Facing the Forests”, published in 1968, at the height of the euphoria after the Six Day War, is still widely regarded today as the most convincing exploration of Nakba Palestinian in Hebrew literature, signaling a revival among his generation; and his first novel. “L’Amante”, published in 1977, managed to announce the seismic change in Israeli society with the takeover of power by the right-wing party Likud and the decline of Labor and largely Ashkenazi left.

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