“During my childhood my father beat me, insulted me and humiliated me.” The autobiography of children’s literature writer Galia Oz has raised blisters in Israel, where the memory of the novelist Amos Oz, who died just over two years ago from cancer, is preserved as a national glory with universal projection, and as an icon of the pacifist left. The accusations contained in the pages of Something disguised as love – “It was not a temporary loss of control or a slap here or there, but a sadistic routine” – they are not minor. The commotion that its publication has caused in the Jewish state has been manifested, however, with the distancing with which family secrets are observed.
Galia Oz, 56 years old and second daughter of the author of A story of love and darkness he broke up with his father and the rest of the family seven years ago. The tension with which his presence was lived at the funeral of the writer, in December 2018, is still remembered in the Hebrew press. “His abuses were creative: he dragged me from inside the house and threw me down the front stairs,” he describes his father’s behavior in the memoir. “You could say that he treated me like trash, but never lost his cool. My crime was being myself, that’s why the punishment never ended until he made sure I was broken inside. “
“I have had no choice but to try to overcome violence, secrecy, the habit of keeping everything to myself and the fear of what they will say”
The writer and journalist Yehuda Atlas, a friend of Galia Oz, told state radio that “he had heard about those stories [de maltrato]”. “But it was difficult for progressives in Israel to accept. Amos Oz was our prince, ”he acknowledged. Daniel Oz, musician and poet, youngest son of the author of Judas, left an enigmatic reflection on Facebook: “My father was not an angel, only a human being. The best human being I have ever met. I am sure – I know – that there is a grain of truth in Galia’s memories. Let’s not erase her. We will not erase ourselves ”.
The official position of the family was reflected in a message on Twitter from the oldest of the novelist’s three children, Fania Oz-Salzberger, historian and teacher. “We knew a different father [al descrito por su hermana menor]. A kind and caring father who loved his family. Galia’s accusations, whose pain seems to be real, do not correspond to the totally different memory that we keep of him throughout all our lives ”.
Amos Oz, born in Jerusalem in 1939, narrated Israel with an original voice that reached the soul of his compatriots. The echo of his work, translated into 45 languages, spread throughout the world with the recognition of awards such as the Prince of Asturias (2007) or the Goethe (2008). But although his name appeared every year in the pools that circulated in Stockholm, the highest international award resisted him. “I think I’ve already had my share of literary awards,” he said in an interview with EL PAÍS in 2015, “and if I don’t receive the Nobel, I’m not going to die unsatisfied.”
My father was not an angel, just a human being. The best human being I have ever met. I am sure – I know – that there is a grain of truth in Galia’s memories. Let’s not erase her. We will not erase ourselves
His life was a novel. He changed his paternal surname from Klausner to Oz and left his family of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe to enter a kibbutz at the age of 15. The account of his experience in the collective farms, which marked the first years of the Jewish State, was the central axis of a youth work that evolved towards the description of archetypal characters with whom Israeli society identifies. And that attracted the attention of readers from all over the planet.
The family relationship that Amos Oz experienced during his childhood was complex. He strove to be “as different as possible” from his father, a Jewish nationalist librarian, in search of the dream of communal socialism in the countryside. Plunged into depression, his mother committed suicide when he was 12 years old. “I think there is a fanatic gene in almost all of us. The human being tries to change others. We tell children: ‘You have to be like me,’ he declared in an interview with EL PAÍS a few months before he died, when he presented his latest work Dear fans, which he defined as a “legacy”.
He knows little more about the private life of Israel’s most renowned writer. His kindness was proverbial among foreign press correspondents, whom he seduced with headlines about the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while skillfully unraveling during the conversation the substance of the work his publisher was promoting.
“I have had no choice but to try to overcome violence, secrecy, the habit of keeping everything to myself and the fear of what they will say,” confesses the writer’s daughter in her autobiography. “But I have not succeeded. That is why I had to write ”. He waited for his father’s death. She alleges that he had spread falsehoods among Israeli intellectuals to discredit her, in case she dared to reveal the ill-treatment. Analysts and critics of his work cited by the Hebrew press have believed to observe in the novel of Amos Oz Meet a woman a parallel between the obstinate and epileptic daughter of the protagonist – a former spy who has just been widowed – and his own daughter Galia.