Mr. Grossman is a profound believer in Israel as the Jewish homeland. (He argues, for instance, that any unqualified right of return for Palestinian refugees would be fatal.) It is this belief, and a finely imaginative moral discrimination, that make his criticism so arresting. Also, given the degradation of events, so poignant. — Richard Eder
Grossman is something that is perhaps even more useful and precious in the current debate: a humanist who speaks in a human voice about the deathly conflict that can only be solved by human means — understanding, empathy, communication and will. For his continuing courage in squarely addressing the bloody situation, Grossman should be respected, and honored. — Amy Wilentz
Grossman writes with wide vision, less a critic of politicians or policy than of a society so consumed with internal disputes that it cannot take hold of the challenges needed to achieve peace. He spares no one, not religious or secular Jews, settlers or peaceniks, Russians, Ethiopians, the ultra-orthodox, the unemployed, not even Israeli Arabs. Milton Viorst
By collecting his impressions from the last decade (originally published in Britain's Guardian), noted Israeli novelist Grossman creates something astonishing-a moving tale of, and comment on, modern Israeli culture and politics. Though there are no surprises in the chain of events, to watch an articulate and nuanced man live through the demise of the peace process is to experience it anew, in all its grisly and idiosyncratic power. Grossman watches the tentative steps toward peace, beginning in 1993, and what he hopes are the attempts of both sides to break free from being "hostages of their history and psychology." Then he looks on with increasing anxiety as it all unravels. Throughout, Grossman combines the lyrical touches he brings to his novels (The Smile of the Lamb, etc.) with a remarkably clear eye. "So many cherished things and private moments are lost to fear and violence," he writes. "So much creative power, so much imagination and thought, are directed today at destruction and death." Indeed, he mourns for losses that are as much philosophical as political, another reason this book has more depth than the typically two-dimensional newspaper op-ed. Grossman holds out for peace even when events suggest otherwise, maintaining criticism of both Israeli civilians and leaders for not trying to understand the Palestinian heart and mind. But these aren't simply the untempered cries of a dove. The author writes convincingly of the inner torment he feels after several attacks on innocent Israelis and candidly engages in self-questioning when dreams of peace start to float away. That gives him credibility, which, mixed with a heartfelt love of Israel and a courtly tone, lend the book an uncommon force. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Israel's celebrated novelist/activist considers why Israelis and Palestinians can't make peace. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Can Israel and Palestine ever make peace? Israeli novelist Grossman (Be My Knife, 2002, etc.) addresses this question from the perspective of a Jerusalem journalist who is also a husband, father, and peace activist bitterly frustrated by the leaders of both sides. In a series of essays, Grossman documents the ten-year descent from that memorable Arafat/Rabin handshake at Oslo into the present-day spiral of violence and death: with little hope of peace, Israelis settle for security; with little hope of security, Palestinians settle for vengeance. Acknowledging a constant struggle against upwelling pessimism, the author frames a conflict long since commandeered by the extremists on both sides; peace is fundamentally unattainable, he reasons, because nobody deserves it. In Grossman’s view, a semi-amnesiac Israeli majority has lost track of its own ethos and lacks the courage for peace, while an equally benumbed Palestinian population has neither the vision nor the leadership to bestow it. Yet it is not hard for him to pick a winner: Sharon’s political genius has been to reduce everything to the single issue of security through force; by resorting to suicide bombings, on the other hand, the Palestinians have assured that even justifiable acts against repression will be seen as terrorism by Western policymakers. But in "winning" the conflict, Grossman asserts, Israel has paid the price of becoming a "more militant, nationalistic and racist country" than it has ever been, now virtually without internal political opposition even while its "economy, morale and security are all in decline." Continuing failure to acknowledge a connection between 35 years of repressive occupation and today’sPalestinian terror, he believes, "ensures that for many years to come we will all [remain] each other’s hostages, agents of gratuitous and pointless death." Chillingly, sometimes agonizingly, eloquent on hope’s fading light.