16 thoughts on “Amos Elon, Israeli Journalist and Historian, Dead at 84 – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. I am sorry to hear of his death. I liked to picture him on that hill in Tuscany with a landscape below him that, as he said, had not changed in a thousand years and of which the beauty ‘would melt your heart’.

    To Israel he would only go from time to time ‘to get mad’.

    Mind you in Italy, wellnigh the personal fief of Berlusconi, there is a lot to get mad about but not when you are an uninvolved retiree as he was.

  2. Richard, in your eulogy to Elon you forgot to mention his most recent book (2002) “The Pity of it All; A History of the Jews in Germany, 1743 -1933” which, for me was the best he wrote. Of course, all of his books were enlightening, and his columns in various periodicals were always incisive and intelligent. He was among the best. He will be sorely missed.

    RIP, Amos.

  3. As an Israeli living in Italy because I couldn’t take it any more, I would say that a de jure ethnic state and the occupation trump all of Mr. B’s nastiness. Israel gives you similar nastiness AND a hopeless cycle of systemic violence and discrimination. Thanks but no thanks. I’ll take my chances with Silvio and his chums.

  4. I read Elon’s book “The Pity of It All” and it is excellent. He apparently considered the Weimar Republic the best situation the Jews ever had, bar none. I reached the conclusion that he viewed Zionism as a fall-back position since Europe made it clear that it didn’t want any Jews, but, in the end, he realized that all the internal contradictions of Labor Zionism were simply irreconcilable and he decided to throw in the towel. I concluded this because he ends the book telling about all the successful German and Austrian Jews who committed suicide when they saw that their beloved German kultur was vomiting the Jews out. He could have pointed out how the German Jews who made aliyah really helped build a strong cultural and economic base for the Zionist yishuv. I guess he was too embarrassed to mention this.
    He was a victim of all the myths of Socialist Zionism: originally they said Eretz Israel was a “land without people for a people without land” which later morphed into “the Arabs will welcome us because we are bringing them civilization”. They claimed they could be both “universalists” and, at the same time “Jewish nationalists”. They promised a socalist, egalitarian society which ended up as the corrupt, suffocating MAPAI-Histradrut regime, which morphed into the materialist, consumerist society that the “enlightened” sectors of Israeli society worship. The promised a “new Jew” who Elon thought would be like the cultured Weimar Jew he celebrates in the book, but traditionalist Jewish values made a comeback after decades of deprecation by the MAPAI cultural elite (of which Elon was a part).
    They saw the conflict with the Arabs was not ending, that there wasn’t going to be peace, that myths the MAPAI historians spread such as “the Arab leaders told their people to flee” weren’t true, and that discovering the fact that the IDF did kill civilians and force some to flee at gun point during the War of Independence made them feel that “their” Israel wasn’t so exceptional compared to other democratic countries at war.
    I recall in his farewell interview with Ari Shavit in Ha’aretz he said that whereas in the past, he could call the Prime Minister and arrange a meeting, important figures in Israel today no longer care about what he thinks. Thus, Israel was no longer “his country” and he had had enough.

    1. He could have pointed out how the German Jews who made aliyah really helped build a strong cultural and economic base for the Zionist yishuv. I guess he was too embarrassed to mention this.

      I’m sorry to be so harsh but sometimes you’re such an idiot. Amos Elon IS an Austrian Jew who, along with Gershom Scholem & the Schockens helped build a strong cultural & economic base for the Yishuv. Why would he be too embarrassed to acknowledge his own upbringing & background?

  5. He was embarrassed about being identified with Zionism the same way Rabin and Peres were when they gave their Nobel Prize acceptance speeches in English rather than in Hebrew, because the custom is that the recipient gives the speech in his native language. Rabin and Peres didn’t want people to think that Hebrew was their native language.

    1. You’re so full of shit it’s unbelievable. You live in a bubble and it’s very comfortable in there despite the fact that you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.

      Rabin and Peres didn’t want people to think that Hebrew was their native language.

      Do you think anyone in Sweden or anywhere else in the world doesn’t know that Shimon Peres & Yitzchak Rabin’s native language is Hebrew?

      1. Just for the historical record, Shimon Peres’ native languages were Yiddish and Polish, he moved to Israel at age 8.

        1. I meant the language they speak now & have spoken for their entire lives (after age 8). I presume Peres isn’t still speaking Yiddish or Polish unless to an audience of native speakers of those languages.

  6. You know what I mean. They didn’t want to speak Hebrew because they don’t view their Jewish/Israeli identity as important and that was the message they were conveying to the world. They spoke English because it gives them a more “cosmopolitan” image. This is part of the whole crisis of Labor Zionism that I referred to earlier. On another blog I am constantly accused of being a “tribalist” (in addition to being a “Zionist agent”), as if I am supposed to lose sleep over that. For many “progressives”, though, this is a deeply wounding accusation. One is supposed to be “universalist” and anti-nationalist (except, of course, for the Palestinians). In the circles with whom people like Peres and Rabin wanted to be identified, these are the important values.

    1. Nobody who is identified as a Labour Zionist is going to be regarded as a universalist of any kind; whether they speak English or Hebrew; it won’t make a difference even if they speak Arabic.

      I haven’t read the Pity of it All; but this kind of nostalgia is hardly unknown amongst the yekke; part of it goes back to their treatment as secondary pioneers by the original Ashkenazi elite in the Zionist project, something Elon makes very clear was one of his motivations in writing the book.

      Richard – it is a shame that Ha’aretz only did such a small obtiuary, I would have thought that the passing of a figures like Elon would have required a much bigger piece; will they be publishing something more in-depth later?

      1. I’m sure they will. And keep in mind that all English articles in Haaretz are translations of usually longer (sometimes much longer) Hebrew articles. English Haaretz is a pale imitation of the Hebrew edition. So the original article prob. was much longer & more comprehensive. At least I hope so.

  7. Thanks Richard, I really liked Elon’s book “Blood Dimmed Tide” and enjoyed reading his articles. I was expecting something more from Ha’aretz given the links he had with the paper; especially from somebody like Segev who could have given a much deeper insight into Elon and his thought. But I guess you are right, in that the Hebrew version would have been probably have been richer in details. I hope we see something in English from them, the English language ones I saw in the Torygraph and LA Times were kind of skimpy and didn’t do justice to Elon imo.

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