Moshe Ma’oz is a veteran Israeli peacenik and a retired prof of Middle East Studies at Hebrew University...Ma’oz, to his credit, was happy to come over to the little hotel I was staying in...
...When Ma’oz walked in, he was pretty depressed, but he expressed it in his usual friendly and half-joking (maybe?) way:
Helena, I am so depressed! Do you think Denmark has room for six million Jews? There is no future for us here! … Honestly, I am ashamed to be an Israeli.
Why Denmark? There's Tuscany in Italy. And why there?
Amos Elon moved to Italy some five years ago.
And he explained the move to Ari Shavit:-
Did you leave Haaretz and move to Tuscany to write historical books because you were opposed to the occupation or because the whole Israeli experience became unbearable to you?
"This place continues to be interesting and fascinating. It's in my blood to this day. I get up in the morning in my home in Tuscany and listen to Israel Radio and then I read Haaretz. But my feeling was that I couldn't say anything here. Everything had already been said. And there's no true dialogue. There's no suitable political development. But of course it's true that it's impossible to live here without feeling some unease. And this unease grows the worse the situation gets. And it has truly been getting worse all these years."
Have you developed a feeling of alienation toward Israel?
"Not alienation. Disappointment. I have no common language with the people who are at the top in politics. I think they're wrong. Their style repulses me. And maybe there is alienation because I don't know them anymore. I'm not involved with them. I used to know everyone. I used to be intimately acquainted with them. And today it's a group that I don't know. And maybe there is alienation because of the sharp rightward shift in Israel. Toward the right and toward religion."
Do you find Israel to be barbaric, unenlightened, nationalistic?
"In Israel there's the `Gush Dan' state and the political state. The `Gush Dan' state is a state of live-and-let-live. Of tolerance. Of the desire for peace and a good life. But the political state, well, you know what it looks like."
What does it look like?
"It's partly quasi-fascist and partly religious with narrow horizons."
"Quasi-fascist in the sense that abstract principles of religion are dictating our fate without any democratic process. There are religious people here who believe they've put their finger on the very essence of being. They know everything. They're in direct contact with God."
You have some profound anti- religious sentiment.
"I'm not being original when I say that religion that enters politics is dangerous. Such religious people would be better off behind bars and not in politics. Certainly."