Amos Oz Awarded Prestigious German Rabbinical School Prize for Pluralism

At the award ceremony, the Israeli author was praised for his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Avner Shapira
Amos Oz
Amos OzCredit: Dan Balilty/AP
Avner Shapira

Israeli author Amos Oz was awarded the Abraham Geiger Prize, named for a leading founder of Reform Judaism, at a ceremony in Berlin on Thursday.

The award is given by Abraham Geiger College, a rabbinical seminary at the University of Potsdam, in recognition of individuals who have “rendered outstanding service to pluralism, openness, tolerance and freedom of Jewish thought,” according to the school’s website.

At the ceremony, Oz was praised for his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The prize, which is conferred every two years, includes a grant of 10,000 euros ($11,200) that the recipient then allocates to a specific project. Two years ago, the award was presented to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Speaking at Thursday’s award ceremony, Geiger College Rector Walter Homolka said Oz is among those who “firmly believe in the ability of people to change the world for the better.”

The website of German international public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported that Berlin’s Senator for Culture and Europe Klaus Lederer praised Oz at the event for being among the first proponents, after the 1967 Six-Day War, to advocate a two-state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians and for what Lederer called Oz’s criticism of “the dehumanization of language” on both sides of the conflict.

In his acceptance speech, the Israeli author noted Germany’s special role in efforts to mediate the conflict. In his remarks, Oz said he does not support dialogue with people who deny Israel’s existence. He had praise for Geiger’s legacy of nonconformism.

The Abraham Geiger Prize was the latest of several prizes that Oz has received in Germany, including the Goethe Prize, the Frankfurt Book Fair peace prize, the Heinrich Heine Prize and the first Siegfried Lenz Literary Prize.

Two years ago, the German translation of Oz’s novel “Judas” won the international literature prize of the House of World Culture in Berlin as well as the translation prize of the Leipzig Book Fair. The English translation of the novel is short-listed for the Man Booker International Prize 2017. Among the other six finalists for the prestigious award is Israeli writer, David Grossman, for the English translation of his book “A Horse Walks into a Bar.”

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