Should we separate the Israeli writer Amos Oz from the man?

“As a child, my father beat me, insulted me and humiliated me. He was creative in his violence (…). It was not a fleeting anger or a slap here and there, but routine and sadistic abuse. I was guilty of being me, therefore the punishment was endless. “

This father mentioned in Galia Oz’s last book, Something disguised as love (Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir, untranslated), published February 21 in Hebrew, is Amos Oz, a major figure in Israeli literature who died of cancer in 2018. In a 110-page account, the youngest, known in the country for her children’s books, traces the hell she would have lived in the kibbutz where she grew up, under the control of a violent father, who would also have attacked her mother.

The book was lived “Like an explosion. Everyone, even those who are not part of the literary scene, were in shock ”, remembers Elad Bar-Noy, daily literary critic Yediot Aharonot. Because he harshly barks “The Dostoyevsky of the Jews”, as former president Réouven Rivlin called him.

It intensifies, after the #metoo movement, a debate already very present in Israel: should we distinguish the man from the artist? Galia Oz answers yes. “I am not boycotting art. Tolstoy was a horrible family man, just like Dickens. You have to see people in their complexity ”, she said at the microphone of Kan Tarbut radio. The 57-year-old author claims to have written for other victims, prisoners like herself of a “Transparent cage”.

Family torn apart

His autobiography dissects the mechanisms of violence, but also the complicity of his father’s entourage, those who maintained a law of silence, threatening to ostracize whoever dares to speak. This book therefore offered the Israelis the spectacle of a torn family, the youngest having broken with her family for seven years. “Galia’s suffering is tangible and heartbreaking, reacted together his mother, his sister and his brother, but we have absolutely different memories. “ Daniel Oz, the youngest, who first sought appeasement, then had much harsher remarks for his sister.

After the shock of the revelations, Amos Oz, once expected to receive the Nobel Prize, continues to be adored in Israel for his prolific work and for having shaped modern Hebrew from the biblical language of the Zionists in the 19th century.e century. “People have ended up saying to themselves: he may have been a violent father, but that does not make him a monster”, observes Mr. Bar-Noy.

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