Amos Oz by Greg Salibian/Fronteiras do Pensamento [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia
It was February 1946. The place: Nuremberg, Germany. More specifically: a small jail cell not far from the famous courtroom where a Nazi had just stood trial for crimes against humanity.
Obersturmbannführer Otto Henke had just been sentenced to life in prison for his part in the murder of hundreds and probably thousands of Jews. He committed these acts because he firmly believed it was his national duty to do so. Henke was on his way up the ladder of Nazi leadership when the war ended and he was caught by the Allies. Professor Henry Goldstein, a noted Jewish atheist author and peace activist before the war, belonged to a group of intellectuals that insisted on always seeing the "other" side's point of view in every situation. It is simply impossible, he insisted, that one side can be totally right and the other totally wrong. That was far too simplistic an approach that only prolonged conflict. History bore that out, he explained.
He would not accept the notion that some people were irretrievable. The dialogue was always welcome with anyone who could be convinced to engage in it. When Goldstein completed his latest book, "Two Sides Of The River," he was delighted to rush an autographed copy to Herr Henke. He wrote that he hoped his book would bring the two together, and that he looked forward to greeting him "on the outside." We do not know for sure what the reaction of the dedicated Nazi war criminal was to Professor Goldstein's gift. The above is fiction. The following is not. In March 2011, Israeli author Amos Oz sent imprisoned former Tanzim terror leader, Marwan Barghouti, an Arabic translation of his book, “A Tale of Love and Darkness.” The book contained Oz’s personal dedication in Hebrew: “This story is our story. I hope you read it and understand us better as we attempt to understand you. Hoping to see you outside and in peace. Yours, Amos Oz.” Marwan Barghouti, head of the PLO/Tanzim terror group, is serving multiple life sentences in an Israeli jail. He is responsible for the murder of great numbers of Jews and for planning to build on his “successes.”
Barghouti — like our Herr Henke — is a leader of a movement that educates and incites to anti-Semitism and carries out continual murderous attacks against Jews. For him and his fellows, just as was the case for the Nazis before him, there is no greater enemy of his people and of mankind than the Jews. He is a leader of the largest anti-Jewish ideology group since Nazism, and is responsible for the murder of more Jews than any other since the Nazis. So why did Amos Oz send the mass murderer and Jew-hater his autographed book? You may ask yourself this question, as I ask myself. His approach is not an isolated phenomenon among intellectual Jews in Israel and abroad — I still do not understand it. I have not read any of Oz's books, though I have no doubt that they deserve the praise they have received. I will not join the outpouring of praise for the celebrated Israeli author who just passed away, as I cannot help but think of the smirk on Barghouti’s face as he leafs through the dear gift from his "enlightened” friend — the "useful idiot."
People like Amos Oz spent much time and energy explaining to the world how we Jews were not as right as you might think, and that our enemies were not the villains you might have been told — don't be too pro-Israeli. He was the most powerful advocate of the above message. Am I sorry that our enemies will no longer enjoy the comfort of his embrace? Or more importantly, should I be?
Contact Shalom Pollack, veteran licensed tour guide, for upcoming tours at Shalom Pollack Tours: Personalized Tours in Israel. Click here to read more of this writer’s work in The Jerusalem Herald.