Israeli writer Amos Oz had a dream of Mideast peace

Amos Oz, who passed away on Friday at the age of 79, was Israel’s most-translated author and staunch advocate of Middle East peace.

As co-founder of the Peace Now movement, Oz sought two-state solution at a time when the idea was hardly known.

Many like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who admired his works did not agree with his political vision. But none of them doubted his intellectual honesty as he stood alone and said a peaceful and permanent solution to Middle East peace is inevitable.

While being a champion of peace, Oz was not a pacifist.  He fought in the Six-Day War in June 1967 when Israel invaded the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. He also took part in the Yom Kippur War in October 1973 when a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria attacked Israel. Oz defended Israel’s war on Lebanon in 2006 and its actions on the Gaza Strip in 2014.

After the Six-Day War, Oz began to bat for a two-state solution and peaceful coexistence between Israel and the West Bank.

Oz did not like his works to be seen as mere political messages. While the uncertainties of his young country were reflected in his writings, he was more concerned about life itself.

In his second novel My Michael, Oz took a bold view on the relationship between Jews and Arabs.

His concern for a tormented soul is shown in the autobiographical novel A Tale of Love and Darkness were the focus is his own mother who committed suicide due to depression when he was just 12.

Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman, who made a film based on the novel in 2015, said Israel has lost a great soul in the death of Oz.

Oz was born Amos Klausner in Jerusalem in 1939 to Jewish immigrants from Ukraine. From a young age, he was surrounded by books and writers like Nobel laureate Samual Yosef Agnon as his parents were connected to literary circles.

The Kerem Avraham quarter where he grew up and Hulda where he lived for long after his mother’s death figured prominently in his works.

Among the awards he won were Israel Prize for Literature in 1998, Germany’s Goethe Prize in 2005, Spain’s Prince of Asturias Prize in 2007, and the Franz Kafka Prize in 2013.