The Israeli writer and ex-soldier explored in his novels the Sephardic tradition of which he was a part and the Jewish identity
Abraham ‘Bulli’ Yehoshúa, one of the Israeli writers with the greatest international projection, together with David Grossman and the late Amos Oz, a brilliant chronicler of the Sephardic tradition to which he belonged, died yesterday at the age of 85 as a result of cancer in a hospital in Tel Aviv. An explorer of Jewish and Israeli identity, he sought solutions to the Palestinian conflict from the pacifist left, either through the formula of the two States, or through a confederation.
Born in Jerusalem in 1936 into a Sephardic family in which he was known as ‘Bulli’, he studied Hebrew literature and philosophy at the university in his hometown. Novelist, essayist and playwright, among his many titles the most notable are ‘Late Divorce’, ‘High Tide and Other Stories’ and ‘El Señor Mani’.
A paratrooper in his day, the father of an Israeli soldier, Yehoshúa was a peculiar pacifist who defended war when he believed it necessary. He militated on the left of the Labor Party and created ‘Peace Now’ in 1967, a minority movement at the time and a majority movement at the end of the 20th century.
A professor of literature at the University of Haifa and a regular contributor to the European press, in politics he defended pacifist positions, although he was not comfortable with this label. “If I am attacked I will defend myself, so I don’t know if I can be called a pacifist” warned Yehoshua, who was always optimistic about the peace process in the Middle East.
«My hope is solid and positive in favor of peace» he repeated. He believed that peace will prevail in the Middle East and that despite the Israeli army being the occupying force in Gaza and the West Bank, common sense will prevail and the two peoples will coexist.
“I don’t like the word pacifist. I don’t deny war when I think it’s necessary. I assume the commitment to recognize the Palestinians as a people equal to the Israeli people, and with the right to self-determination. But I did not reject, for example, the war against Saddam Hussein, who invaded a country and committed atrocities. Yes, I am for the recognition of the rights and self-determination of the Palestinian people. We have a common future. There is no other solution. Other possibilities are dangerous and terrible, because there is Islamic fanaticism and the Jewish »aventuaab years ago, at the presentation in Spain of one of his books.
A long drive through Andalusia prompted him to delve into the Jewish society of a millennium ago and the importance for the Jewish history of the communities of southern Spain. The result was the novel ‘Journey to the End of the Millennium’, a long-term travel and historical account that focused on the serious socio-cultural differences between Northern and Southern Jews at the time and highlighted the crucial influence of wealth. Andalusian culture in the history of Jewish culture.
Set in the year 999, –the year 4,758 for the Jews, and 338 years after Mohammed’s journey from Mecca to Medina–, it narrates the fascinating and extremely dangerous voyage from Tangier to Paris, to a Europe tormented by the approach of the new millennium. , by Ben Attar, a Jewish merchant of Andalusian culture who will see his commercial relations with his nephew seriously affected.
In his novel ‘El Señor Mani’, he gutted two centuries of Jewish identity, traveling from the 1982 Lebanon war to the middle of the 19th century through dialogues in which we only listen to one of the interlocutors. In his latest novel, ‘The Tunnel’, he delved into the darkness of Alzheimer’s straddling realism and symbolism. Dejected by the death of his wife Rivka, with whom he lived for 56 years, he explored Jewish identity again.
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