Amos Oz, How to Cure a Fanatic. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010.
Internationally acclaimed novelist Amos Oz grew up in war-torn Jerusalem, where as a boy he witnessed firsthand the poisonous consequences of fanaticism. In two concise, powerful essays, the award-winning author offers unique insight into the true nature of fanaticism and proposes a reasoned and respectful approach to resolving the Israeli Palestinian conflict. As an added feature, he comments on contemporary issues–the Gaza pullout, Yasser Arafat’s death, and the war in Iraq–in an extended interview at the end of the book.
Oz argues that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a war of religion or cultures or traditions, but rather a real estate dispute–one that will be resolved not by greater understanding, but by painful compromise. As he writes, "The seeds of fanaticism always lie in uncompromising righteousness, the plague of many centuries."
The brilliant clarity of these essays, coupled with Oz’s ironic sense of humor in illuminating the serious, breathes new life into this centuries-old debate. Oz argues that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a war of religion or cultures or traditions, but rather a real estate dispute–one that will be resolved not by greater understanding, but by painful compromise. He emphasizes the importance of imagination in learning to define and respect other’s space, and analyzes the twisted historical roots that have led to Middle East violence. In his interview, Oz sends a message to Americans. Why not, he proposes, advocate for a twenty-first-century equivalent of the Marshall Plan aimed at preventing poverty and despair in the region? "What is necessary is to work on the ground, for example, building homes for hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who have been rotting in camps for almost sixty years now."