David Grossman in N.Y. Times: Gaza War Causing Israelis to 'Grow Up'

Novelist, leading voice of peace camp writes that mainstream now realizes country has been 'circling the grindstone of a conflict that could have been resolved years ago.'

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David Grossman
David GrossmanCredit: AP

Novelist David Grossman, the leading voice of Israel's "peace camp," has written a cautiously optimistic New York Times oped about the brewing effect of the war with Gaza, conveying his "sense that Israel is growing up."

In "An Israel without illusions," which appeared first in Hebrew in Yedioth Ahronoth, Grossman wrote on Sunday that this latest war, the third with Gaza in five years, has caused the broad mainstream of Israelis to realize that they have been "circling the grindstone of a conflict that could have been resolved years ago."

"[T]he current round between Israel and Gaza is somehow different. Beyond the pugnacity of a few politicians fanning the flames of war, behind the great show of 'unity' — in part authentic, mostly manipulative — something about this war is managing, I think, to direct many Israelis’ attention toward the mechanism that lies at the foundation of the vain and deadly repetitive 'situation,'" writes Grossman, whose  most recent translated novel, "To the End of the Land," was completed after the death of his son, Uri, in Israel's 2006 Second Lebanon War.

"I do not know what the Palestinians, including Gazans, really think at this moment. But I do have a sense that Israel is growing up. Sadly, painfully, gnashing its teeth, but nonetheless maturing — or, rather, being forced to," he writes. "Despite the belligerent declarations of hotheaded politicians and pundits, beyond the violent onslaught of right-wing thugs against anyone whose opinion differs from theirs, the main artery of the Israeli public is gaining sobriety."

Challenges Netanyahu

While Grossman does not blame the war on either side, he asks why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to make "the slightest gesture toward dialogue with Hamas," negotiate seriously with moderate Palestinians or accept the Arab League initiative, which might have "imposed, perhaps, a compromise on Hamas?"

He writes that he does not know if Hamas is ready for peace with Israel, but that "the Palestinian majority, represented by Mahmoud Abbas, has already decided in favor of negotiation and against terrorism."

The author maintains that after the war is finished, there is potential for a "new alliance" of Israelis to make peace with the Palestinians – "a critical mass of people, both left-wing and right-wing, religious and secular, Jews and Arabs, who are capable of uniting — with sobriety, with no illusions — around a few points of agreement to resolve the conflict with our neighbors."

And he warns that if such an alliance does not arise, "[W]e will be leaving the arena to those who would drag us fervently into the next war, igniting every possible locus of conflict in Israeli society as they go."

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