Amos Oz

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The Palestinians are not going anywhere - -they have nowhere to go. The Israeli Jews also aren't going anywhere - they have nowhere to go. But we cannot become one happy family, because we are not. So, we have to divide the house into two smaller apartments and learn how to say, "good morning" in the hall every day. Eventually, perhaps we will pop in on each other for a cup of coffee. But we need this semi-detached house, a two-family unit.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Morning
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I am an old man and I have seen things get revoked. Things which looked very irrevocable.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Men
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Democracy in many parts of the world is undergoing a very deep crisis. Politics is becoming a branch of the entertainment industry. People vote not for the best leader, but for the funniest candidate.
- Amos Oz
Collection: People
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If people are pro-Israel, they are pro-Israel one-hundred-and-twenty percent. If they are anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian, they tend to be pro-Palestinian one-hundred-and-twenty percent. I don't think a decent person has to choose between being pro-Israel and pro-Palestine. I think you have to be pro-Peace.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Thinking
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Literature is about telling stories. Now, the gift of literature is that, in some lucky cases, reading a novel or a story makes the reader more curious, more open-minded. It may open a third eye in the middle of the reader's forehead.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Reading
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Sometimes, recently Israeli-Palestinian conflict is indeed a clash between wrong and wrong. It is not as simple as fascism was. Every decent man had to be against fascism, period. It is not as simple as apartheid or colonialism or racism or misogyny. It is not simple because the Palestinians have no other land. They are absolutely right about this. The Israeli Jews also have no other land and they are absolutely right about this. It is a tragedy of two peoples claiming the same very small country, about the size of New Jersey.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Country
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Writing a poem is like having an affair, a one-night stand; a short story is a romance, a relationship; a novel is a marriage-one has to be cunning, devise compromises, and make sacrifices.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Writing
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In my vocabulary, the word "compromise" is synonymous to the word "life".
- Amos Oz
Collection: Vocabulary
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My dream for Israel is peace, external and internal peace. I want Israel to live in peace with its neighbors and in peace with itself.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Dream
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Now, Israel is a fulfillment, and as a fulfillment, it is flawed. The fact that it is flawed is not so much a testimony about the failures of Israel. No, it is a testimony about the nature of dreams.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Dream
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If you steal from one book you are condemned as a plagiarist, but if you steal from ten books you are considered a scholar, and if you steal from thirty or forty books, a distinguished scholar.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Book
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Actually, who hasn't been through the ghastly experience of sitting in front of a blank page, with its toothless mouth grinning at you: Go ahead, let's see you lay a finger on me? A blank page is actually a whitewashed wall with no door and no window. Beginning to tell a story is like making a pass at a total stranger in a restaurant.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Wall
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We got a wonderful present from Stalin and Hitler that they never meant to give us. We were immune for 60 years or so to aggression, racism and militarism. They made us partly immune to these things. Now it appears this Stalin-Hitler present has reached its expiration date. We were spoiled by this. So maybe we are just emerging out of a relatively golden age.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Years
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I often write about reconciling. Reconciling, or maybe half-reconciling between antagonists, between people who are deadly enemies. I write about reconciliation, but not as a miracle, as a slow, gradual process of mutual discovery - discovering one another. I write about sad, sober, sometimes heart-breaking compromises.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Writing
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Many intellectuals in America and in Europe, they are in the habit of taking sides: who are the bad guys? who are the good guys? They launch a demonstration against the bad guys, sign a petition in favor of the good guys, and going to sleep feeling well about themselves. This is not the case here. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a tragedy; it is a clash between right and right.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Sleep
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The [political] left are people with an imagination and the right are those without an imagination.
- Amos Oz
Collection: People
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This bloody conflict has been going on for much too long. It is doing terrible things to Israelis, to Palestinians. One of the terrible things it is causing is indifference.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Long
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Literature may open a third eye in the middle of the reader's forehead.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Eye
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There is a document in every novel in the world. Even in the most fantastic novel, even in science fiction, there is a documentary side. But, this side is not the crux of the matter.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Fiction
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When I need to take a side, I write a newspaper article and I tell my government, "You should not do that, you should do this." They don't listen to me, but I've been doing this for sixty years now. But, when I write a novel, I am not in that business.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Writing
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My musical instrument is Hebrew and, to me, this is the most important fact about my writing. I write in words. I don write in sounds or in shapes or in flavors. I write in words. And my words are Hebrew words.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Writing
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The revival of Hebrew, as a spoken language, is a fascinating story, which I'm afraid I cannot squeeze into a few sentences. But, let me give you a clue. Think about Elizabethan English, where the entire English language behaved pretty much like molten lava, like a volcano in mid-eruption. Modern Hebrew has some things in common with Elizabethan English. It is being reshaped and it's expanding very rapidly in various directions. This is not to say that every one of us Israeli writers is a William Shakespeare, but there is a certain similarity to Elizabethan English.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Thinking
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I don't think a novel's main donation, main gift, is the document. The document is there, but a novel goes beyond documentation. It goes into opening a new vista, opening a new perspective, showing familiar things in an unfamiliar way, and making the reader reconsider the documentary facts which he or she may have known before.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Thinking
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The dreams and the visions of the Israeli founding fathers, these were very very ambitious dreams. They were world reformers. They wanted to create a new and improved kind of humanity, or at least, a new and improved Jewish society, a new and improved Jewish individual human being here. The whole Zionist project was based on a whole spectrum of different and even conflicting dreams and visions.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Dream
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Different musical instruments provide for different music.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Musical
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There are certain concepts, which exist in english, and are unthinkable, untranslatable into Hebrew and vice versa.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Vices
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Hebrew has a system of tenses, which is, in a big way, different from the English system of tenses, probably different than any European system of tenses, which means a different sense of reality, which means a different concept of time.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Mean
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Every language has influences and is an influence.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Language
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Hebrew is deeply inspired by other languages.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Inspired
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Universally, not only in Israel, people want to feel good about themselves. We all want to feel good to some extent.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Israel
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Not now, for the last three thousand years, Hebrew has been penetrated and fertilized by ancient Semitic languages - by Aramaic, by Greek, by Latin, by Arabic, by Yiddish, by Latino, by German, by Russian, by English, I could go on and on. It's very much like English.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Latin
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My musical instrument is Hebrew and, to me, this is the most important fact about my writing.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Writing
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A long war is degenerating - it ruins the mind and the soul and psyche of individuals and nations.
- Amos Oz
Collection: War
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We lived through a relatively golden age between the end of World War II and Sept. 11, 2001.
- Amos Oz
Collection: War
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The far right is saying to us: Forget about the two-state solution, it is going to be a Jewish state from the coast to Jordan. The left wing says you have to forget about Jewish self-determination, you will have to live as a minority in an Arab state - just like the whites in South Africa. The key word that both have in mind is that the situation in the West Bank is "irrevocable." It is one of the words I dislike the most.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Determination
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We supporters of the two-state solution in Israel and Palestine are now under a fierce attack from the far right and from the far left in Israel and in Europe. If I were a paranoid, I would say that maybe the far left and the far right are coordinating a conspiracy.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Israel
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Israel is imperfect, of course it is - a far cry from the monumental dreams of the founding fathers. One of the reasons is that their dreams were unrealistic. They were bigger than life. These were messianic dreams, dreams about total redemption for the Jews, for the world. Such dreams do not come true, not in their entirety.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Dream
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You know, gynecology has a role; sex is a gift. And literature is not about sending messages.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Sex
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Things can be translated, but they become different.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Different
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Israel has obviously not liberated the Palestinians in Gaza or the West Bank. We have occupied them, but we have not liberated them.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Israel
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The battlefield is first and foremost horrible stenches, not sights, not sounds, but stenches. They don't travel well into literature.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Sight
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Literature belongs first and foremost to the language in which it is being written.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Firsts
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The moment you carry out any of your dreams or your fantasies - travel around the world, climbing a high mountain, buying a new house, writing a novel, carrying out a sexual fantasy, traveling to an unknown country - the moment you carry out your dreams, it's always, by definition less perfect and rosy than it had been as a dream. This is the nature of dreams.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Dream
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I work in Hebrew. Hebrew is deeply inspired by other languages. Not now, for the last three thousand years, Hebrew has been penetrated and fertilized by ancient Semitic languages - by Aramaic, by Greek, by Latin, by Arabic, by Yiddish, by Latino, by German, by Russian, by English, I could go on and on. It's very much like English. The English language took in many many fertilizations, many many genes, from other languages, from foreign languages - Latin, French, Nordic languages, German, Scandinavian languages. Every language has influences and is an influence.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Latin
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It's possible a Palestinian state will be installed over the heads of the Palestinians. It could be part of an agreement between the Israeli government and moderate Arab states, but not one between Israel and the Palestinians.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Government
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Recently with IS and Islamist fanaticism, it has become easy for the Israeli government to simply push the Palestinian struggle for self-determination into the same ranks as these fundamentalist movements.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Determination
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The very same book, even if it is translated very accurately, let's say from Hebrew into English or from English into Hebrew, becomes a different book because language is a musical instrument.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Book
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Each time I have the urge in me to make a statement or send a message or to issue a manifesto, I don't bother to write a novel. I write an article and publish it in a popular newspaper, or I make a television appearance.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Writing
Image of Amos Oz
If people are pro-Israel, they are pro-Israel one-hundred-and-twenty percent. If they are anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian, they tend to be pro-Palestinian one-hundred-and-twenty percent.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Israel