David Grossman: Demand for Loyalty in Culture Is Fascist

Celebrated author tells Euronews that he supports the EU decision to label settlement products.

Daniel Bar-On

Israeli author David Grossman has called the so-called cultural loyalty bill being promoted by Culture Minister Miri Regev “fascist.” Grossman discussed the bill for the first time in an interview with Euronews that was broadcast on Saturday.

When interviewer Isabelle Kumar asked him about the loyalty issue, he responded: “You should ask them what it means. I first of all I don’t think I should even justify my loyalty, I was born here, this is my place, I take a very active part in the life in Israel, in the culture in Israel. I don’t think the question of loyalty should be aroused at all, it’s a fascist question.”

Grossman’s answer was quoted by Israel’s Channel 10 news on Sunday evening. Grossman was interviewed for about 20 minutes in English, with Jerusalem’s Old City in the background. The interview with him moved from the cultural bill to the radicalization of citizens on both sides of the conflict.

“I feel that my opinions are more and more isolated,” he said. “You see how more and more Israelis are being tempted to this way of looking at the conflict of abandoning their attempt to achieve some political, rational solution and rather they are more and more prone to fanaticism and fundamentalism. You see it on both sides, it happens in Israel, it happens in Palestine, it makes the solution almost impossible.”

Grossman was also asked about his position on the European Union decision to label settlement-based products. He expressed support for the measure, which he sees as proof that the EU accepts “the total legitimacy of Israel within the Green Line.”

He stressed: “They have the right to mention to their audience that these products came from a disputable place. This is a price in a way that Israel brought upon herself.”

Grossman speculated that fear is the thing that perhaps characterizes “Israeli society now more than everything else.” He explained: “It’s fear for our children who go the army, but it’s also fear to walk in the street, and the government and the right wing are making a cynical usage of this fear. We have a prime minister who is an expert in stirring together the real dangers that Israel faces, and we do face real dangers here in the Middle East, but he knows how to stir together the real dangers with the echoes of past traumas.”

Grossman expressed a longing for a better future.

“Being an Israeli and a Jew, I yearn to see Israel flourishing in conditions of peace, to see what it will do to us for the first time in our history, in our ancient history and our modern history, to live life without fear,” he said.