Amos Elon, Israel’s critical voice, is silent

By Simon Rocker, May 27, 2009

One of Israel’s most distinguished authors and journalists, Amos Elon, a longstanding critic of the country’s occupation of the West Bank, died in Italy on Monday aged 82.

Vienna-born, Elon moved to Palestine when he was seven, in 1933. He grew up in Tel Aviv and served three years in the Hagana, before going on to begin his life-long love affair with history, reading history and law first at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and then at Cambridge.

He began writing for Ha’aretz in the early 1950s, and worked for the paper, on and off, for more than half a century. Very early on he established himself as a critical voice, writing that the occupation had corrupted Israel.

Elon went on to produce a string of books including a biography of Herzl, a history of German Jewry and a collection of essays on the Middle East entitled A Blood-Dimmed Tide.

His 1971 book, The Israelis: Fathers and Sons, was praised by its JC reviewer for its fierce and honest exploration of Zionism in its pioneer days.

Five years before the Israeli-Egyptian peace accord, he published Between Enemies, a dialogue with Sanna Hassan, daughter of an Egyptian ambassador.

In 2004, he left Israel to live in Tuscany, disappointed at its failure to achieve peace with the Palestinians.

He would live out most of his days enjoying his view of the countryside, he told an interviewer.

“On the other days, I’ll come to Israel and get mad.”

Last updated: 1:24pm, May 27 2009