I know Oz from two "occasions", one TV-interview in which he repeated all the Zionist cliché’s that supposedly justify Israeli behavior, and a chapter in Gabriel Piterberg’s “The Returns of Zionism – Myths, Politics and Scholarship in Israel”, in which Oz is the "shoot and cry" propagandist of Israel, a real hypocrite! Below are citations from page 233-237 of Piterberg’s book. There may be slight inaccuracies, because (google and) I retranslated it from Dutch.
In Oz's work (according to Piterberg) one finds typical examples of the way in which "settler nationalism" always tries to keep the conflict with the indigenous people outside the parameters of "our identity". It cannot be that what "we have done" determines what "we are"? With Oz, according to Piterberg, it is never about "the other", but always, to the point of annoyance, about "us". A typical character that Oz raises is the handsome, heroic Israeli soldier who struggles with moral dilemmas (which are part of the colonization process). With Oz, not the real victim, the Palestinian, is the victim, but the perpetrator is made victim (of moral dilemmas), while the actual victim is ignored.
On the basis of an (in 2008) not yet published thesis by Alon Gan, Piterberg talks about the book "Soldiers’ talk" that was released shortly after the 1967 war. Soldiers were interviewed for the book, and Oz was the editor. Piterberg describes the book as follows:
"' Soldiers’ talk’ became one of the most effective means of propaganda in Israeli history and created the image of the handsome, internally torn and existential conscience questioning Israeli soldier, the horrible inner contradiction of the 'purity of arms', and the unfounded notion of a lofty Jewish morality. "
Piterberg describes the role of Oz as an editor as follows:
"At a time when the ethnic cleansing of that war - in the area around Latrun, in the old city of Jerusalem - was fresh and the signs of the burgeoning occupation felt, Oz chose to play a central role in an inward turn, self-satisfying discourse about 'us', about 'our' feeling about this, that and the other, about the validity of 'our values', about how big 'our' dilemma is, and so on. "
Alon Gan compared the contents of the book with the original sound recordings and found striking differences. Matters that do not fit with the desired propaganda image were omitted or adapted, the meaning often being changed essentially, such as replacing the word "expelling" with "evacuating", or even straightforward untruths were inserted.
An example of what was left out is the statement of the son of a military commander who had participated in ethnic cleansing in 1948:
"The most important thing, for me at least, was that we were going to make the country complete. ... The feeling I had was ... that of, as it were, the finishing of my father's work twenty years ago. There was always talk of injustice - what Ben-Gurion called "a permanent regret" [i.e. not completely conquering Palestine in 1948]. My feeling was that we completed the task that actually had to be finished [in 1948]. ... "
Piterberg also gives examples of adjustments that aimed to reduce what really happened to a vague background. Where the book cites: "what may have contributed to this terrible feeling was my impression of the soldiers who were ambushed and who, as it went, killed [the farmer].", what was really said was: "what perhaps contributed to this terrible feeling was my impression of the enormous cheerfulness of the soldiers who, as it went, killed the farmer. " When the encounter with the civilian population is cited as: "there was a sort of collapse [of standards of behavior], ... really an abnormal collapse.", the soldier really said: "a collapse that bordered on real cruelty. ... I know that one corporal ... a forty-year-old man raised his hands, and then he drains his entire magazine in his belly ... grenades in every house ... just burn houses ... a kind of collapse. "
Danaa, thx for answering.
Like your first comment, I find this comment interesting because they give new views.
You're right that the Zionist claim to the land is ultimately based on the Tenach. They say secular Zionists don't believe in God, but do believe that He gave them the land.
Secular Zionists have also instrumentalised Judaism, but not without changing the meaning of lots of things, e.g.:
- "Next year in Jerusalem" is changed from "hoping for the Messiah" to "hoping for a Jewish state" (and silly enough, secular Zionists claim that religious Jews always meant "hoping for a state")
- "Aliyah" has got a secular meaning instead of a religious one
And there are probably many more examples. This makes it difficult for Zionists to understand pre-Zionist Judaism (if they would want that, because they also tend to despise it, as weak, disrooted etc.)
Ben-Gurion read the Israelite conquest of the promised land as an inspiration for Zionism.
In reality things are often complex, and in this case too Zionism has instrumentalised and used Judaism, but Judaism has also changed Zionism. And Zionism has changed Judaism, including giving birth to religious Zionism. An interesting subject.