You ought to read “How to Cure a Fanatic”

I hadn’t heard of Israeli novelist, journalist and peace activist Amos Oz until I spotted a copy of How to Cure a Fanatic on the shelf at my local bookstore. In this brief but wryly compelling collection of short pieces, Oz confronts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in terms that are basic but not superficial, and he proposes a number of unconventional but provocative methods of resolving the conflict.

“The Israeli-Palestine conflict is not a Wild West movie,” Oz argues. “It is not a struggle between good and evil, rather it is a tragedy in the ancient and most precise sense of the word: a clash between right and right, a clash between one very powerful, deep, and convincing claim, and another very different but no less convincing, no less powerful, no less humane claim.”

The book opens with a brief but terrific essay called “Between Right and Right,” from which the above quote was taken. The title essay follows, and a 2005 interview with the author rounds it all out by illuminating a number of Oz’s points, particularly in light of the many social and political changes in the region since the first publication of the essays in 2002.

It’s a heavy subject, and although Oz treats it with a certain irreverence, he doesn’t downplay the severity of the conflict, much less the painful nature of the compromise he believes is required to resolve it. Not only is the book an illuminating read, but it’s also a great introduction to a writer who’s as personable as he is political.

Posted in You Ought to Read