Dear Zealots: Letters from a Divided Land

Dear Zealots: Letters from a Divided Land


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An urgent and deeply necessary work, Dear Zealots offers three powerful essays that speak directly to our present age, on the rise of zealotry in Israel and around the world. 

“Concise, evocative . . . Dear Zealots is not just a brilliant book of thoughts and ideas—it is a depiction of one man’s struggle, who for decades has insisted on keeping a sharp, strident and lucid perspective in the face of chaos and at times of madness.” — David Grossman, winner of the Man Booker International Prize

From the incomparable Amos Oz comes a series of three essays: on the universal nature of fanaticism and its possible cures, on the Jewish roots of humanism and the need for a secular pride in Israel, and on the geopolitical standing of Israel in the wider Middle East and internationally.

Dear Zealots is classic Amos Oz—fluid, rich, masterly, and perfectly timed for a world in which polarization and extremism are rising everywhere. The essays were written, Oz states, "first and foremost" for his grandchildren: they are a patient, learned telling of history, religion, and politics, to be thumbed through and studied, clung to even, as we march toward an uncertain future.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781328987006
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 11/13/2018
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 266,240
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

AMOS OZ is the recipient of the Prix Femina, the Frankfurt Peace Prize, the Goethe Prize, the Primo Levi Prize, and the National Jewish Book Award, among other international honors. His most recent book, Judas, was a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize. His work has been translated into forty-four languages. 

Date of Birth:

May 4, 1939

Date of Death:

December 28, 2018

Place of Birth:


Place of Death:

Tel Aviv, Israel

Table of Contents

Preface xi

I Dear Zealots 1

II Many Lights, Not One Light 41

III Dreams Israel Should Let Go of Soon 109

Acknowledgments 137

Bibliography 139

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Dear Zealots: Letters from a Divided Land 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
PattySmith87 More than 1 year ago
Many thanks to Netgalley, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Amos Oz for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advanced copy. One thing is clear, Amos Oz loves Israel. It is his home, his ancestors’ homeland and it figures that he has very strong views on where its future lies. Amoz Oz is a well known, award winning, Israeli author whose works have been translated all over the world. I am a fan, having read several of his novels, so I was really excited to find this latest work. Dear Zealots is a collection of three essays that explore his views on fanatics, Judaism and a solution for Israel. The first essay looks at fanaticism and how to handle “the little fanatic who hides, more or less, inside each of our souls”. Zealots have been around since the beginning of time. Their seduction is their overwhelming interest in you, the desire to make you at one with his world, to lift you up and help you from the low place you are in. Their level of self sacrifice and knowledge of what is best for you is similar to how a parent is with their child. Oz recognizes that everyone, every race, every religion, can create these zealots, by shrinking their world and removing the ability to see things from another perspective or step in someone else’s shoes, and offers that through creativity, imagination and a little humour we might diminish the creation of fanatics. The second essay Oz discusses his thoughts on Judaism. He feels the religion should not just be for the Orthodox and there is a need for secular pride. He feels that Judaism and humanism are one and the same. By reaching back in history he illustrates the idea (that, by the way, all Jews know very well and that is) that no two Jews will agree, or have the same interpretation of what it means and every one is valid. There isn’t a hierarchical system of cardinals and bishops that all defer to one man, the pope, who decides how each law should be expressed. He searches for an answer to the question “What is the heart of Judaism?”, really he is asking what is a Jew. He attempts to find the answer by looking back into our history and finding out that we are, as the title for this essay. says, “many lights, not one light, many beliefs and opinions, not one”. The third essay is Oz’s argument of a two state solution. He has long been a proponent of this idea and has written about it many times before. Whether you agree with him or not (and there is plenty I don’t), this is an important book to read for problems that are current, a threat and difficult to discuss without people getting very heated. Well written, thoughtful commentary that is easy to read and definitely worth your time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my first introduction to Amos Oz and it was a good one indeed! “Dear Zealots” consists of 3 essays that are woven together into a compact book. The thread that ties the essays together is the theme and exploration of fanaticism. The first essay addresses it head-on, in the other two essays, it is an element and factor of other issues (Judaism as a culture/nationality rather than simply a religion and the two-state solution). The book, for me, was incredibly thoughtful and thought-provoking. I will admit I was a bit intimidated by the subject of the book fearing that it could be a complex, convoluted read. My fear was absolutely unfounded. It was extremely readable and absolutely straight-forward in its arguments and analysis. The author is able to take complex issues, and write with a clarity and simplicity that created powerful and meaningful arguments. While this was my first Amos Oz read I am already looking forward to my next! To be able to take such important, complex and often divisive issues and address them in a way that is thoughtful, sensitive and understandable is a true gift to the reader! I was honored to receive a free advance copy of this book from NetGalley and the Publisher, Houghton Mifflin in exchange for an honest review.