Israeli author Amos Oz dies at 79

Oz was known world-wide for a collection of novels, essays, and his memoir.

    Oz took a hard line against those sworn to Israel's destruction [Abir Sultan/EPA-EFE]
    Oz took a hard line against those sworn to Israel's destruction [Abir Sultan/EPA-EFE]

    Amos Oz, one of Israel's most famous authors, has died at the age of 79, his daughter confirmed on Twitter.

    "My beloved father, Amos Oz, a wonderful family man, an author, a man of peace and moderation, died peacefully today after a short battle with cancer," Fania Oz-Salzberger wrote on Friday.

    Born in 1939 to a family of Eastern European Jews who moved to British-occupied Mandate Palestine, Oz fought in the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli wars but was later a critic of Israel's occupation of land captured in those conflicts.

    The novelist advocated a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for which he said "painful concessions" needed to be made on both sides.

    In recent years he became a critic of what he called the "growing extremism" of his government, especially Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a position that made him the target of anger from Israel's far right. 

    Palestinians and their supporters also voiced criticism of Oz, who they say shielded Israel from criticism over its occupation and for his support of Israeli wars in Gaza, as well as the 2006 Lebanon War.

    British author and pro-Palestinian activist Ben White said Oz's views "echoed white South Africans' anxieties during Apartheid."

    He referred to an opinion piece written for the Guardian at the start of the second Intifada, in which Oz said: "The Palestinian people are suffocated and poisoned by blind hate."

    "For Oz - a committed proponent of ethnic separation - a Palestinian majority in a single state was an apocalyptic prospect," White wrote.

    As an author, Oz was critically acclaimed, earning plaudits, such as the Goethe Prize, the Legion of Honor, the Franz Kafka Prize, and the Prince of Asturias Award in Literature.

    He published dozens of books and was best known for his memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness, which actor and director Natalie Portman adapted for the screen in 2016.

    "It was a tale of love and light, and now, a great darkness," Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement eulogising Oz. "Rest in peace, dear Amos. You gave us great pleasure." 

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies