ISRAEL and world Jewry have “lost a giant” with the passing of Amos Oz, Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Peter Wertheim said this week.
Oz, 79, passed away on December 28 last year. In addition to being one of Israel’s most-loved writers, he was also a fierce peace activist.
Daughter Fania Oz-Salzberger said he passed surrounded by his loved ones. “My beloved father, Amos Oz, a wonderful family man, an author, a man of peace and moderation, died today peacefully after a short battle with cancer … May his good legacy continue to amend the world,” she tweeted.
Wertheim said, “Amos Oz personified the original Israel with all of its idealism, social solidarity and hope for the future. Yet, without ever descending into hatred or contempt, he had a realistic understanding of its failings, and also of the failings of its enemies.
“Israel and the Jewish people have lost a giant at a time when we have never been in more need of such a figure.”
When he visited Australia in 2011, Oz spoke to packed audiences and was also conferred with an honorary degree from the University of Melbourne.
Former Shalom CEO Hilton Immerman, who brought Oz to Australia, paid tribute to his “literary genius”, adding that, “Spending time with him was one of the greatest privileges of my life,” he said.
Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich, who is an academic at the University of Melbourne and nominated Oz for his honorary Doctor of Letters, said, “We’ve lost a true humanist, and one of the most original authors and intellectuals of the 20th century.”
New Israel Fund Australia executive director Liam Getreu expressed the organisation’s gratitude to Oz for his long association. “For many decades, people around the world, who sought peace and a moral compass, turned to Amos Oz for insight and a lucid perspective,” he said.
“For those of us who share his dedication to a two-state solution and his commitment to a pluralist and inclusive nation, we have lost our shining light.”