Contemporary Relevance

Amos Oz


Amos Oz is one of the most revered and celebrated authors both in Israel and around the world. He grew up in Jerusalem during the British Mandate, and his mother committed suicide when he was only twelve. He writes about the profound ways in which his life was shaped by the transitional backdrop of what would soon become Israel. In 1967, after the Six Days War, Oz traveled around the country recording the stories of Israeli soldiers who had fought in the war, as he himself had. Memorializing their stories and recounting their experiences allowed for the humanizing of these soldiers, and the undermining of the apparent celebrations following the conclusion of the war. Oz’s stories gave a nuanced perspective, introducing real testimony to the conversation. His writing became a symbol for the voices unheard, and the soldiers forgotten. In 1973, he appeared on a television show and calmly and sensibly challenged Moshe Dayan, the defense minister’s decisions and demeanor. He was a founding member of Peace Now, a well-spoken activist organization. He understood the evidence of Israel’s decisions contradicting their values, but still believed in the Jewish right to a homeland. He is a Zionist who supported Palestinian rights, understanding the conflict between Jews and Arabs, but also finding common ground in their morals. He wanted to believe in peace. He was levelheaded, well educated, and was a peaceful figure in Middle Eastern political discourse. In 1987, he began a residency at Boston University and continued writing impressionable novels that deeply impacted Israeli national identity. His characters hold the weight of a nation, combining personal voice with historical perspective and giving a voice to the solidarity of Israel. Amos Oz was unafraid. He believed in compromise, moral understanding, and empathy. He passed away in December of 2018.

Read about Oz’s radical empathy here, and and click here to learn about his relationship with Israel.

The Current State of Israel and Palestine


Post 1947, Israel and Palestine continued to remain in conflict until this day.  Directly after 1947, Israel declared its independence and the British mandate was lifted. Israel was officially admitted into the United Nations and the Jewish homeland was finally secured. However, almost immediately, from 1948-1949 the first Arab-Israel War commenced resulting in Israel gaining more territory including Western Jerusalem. As hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors settled into Israel in the following years, tensions continued to rise. In 1967, the Six Days War ensued leaving Israel in control of East Jerusalem, all of the West Bank, Sinai, Golan Heights, and Gaza. Following this war, acts of terror continued to torment the two states resulting in mass protests, hostage cases, and the murder of many civilians. In 1994, Jordan and Israel signed  a peace treaty. In September of 2005, Israel withdrew Jewish settlers and military from Gaza. Major clashes and raids followed. In 2017, US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel, upsetting many Palestinians. Today, there is still violence,  protest, and conflict  in the Middle East.

For consistent updates on the status of the Middle Eastern Conflict, click here.

Toldot Yisrael


Toldot Yisrael is a project started by Ruth Fahri, a survivor of the War for Israeli Independence. The project began in 2007, and contains over 1,200 interviews from those who witnessed or were involved with the War of Independence. Many of these interviewees were Jewish volunteers smuggling Holocaust survivors into the country, World War II soldiers, civilians, and founders of the state. The project aims to preserve these important historical perspectives for future generations, and to record this important chapter of history.

Read more on the project’s web site here.



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Rachel Milberg ’20

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