David Grossman is one of the best known, most widely translated Israeli authors. He has published impressionistic books based on numerous conversations with Palestinians (Yellow Wind) and Israeli Arabs (Present Absentees), as well as numerous novels. For some days, now, Varda has been working her way through a book he published in 1986: Look under "Love." Grossman has long been known as an advocate of accommodation with Palestinians, as well as a better deal for Israeli Arabs.
Last week he appeared along with Amos Oz and A. B. Yeshua, and urged that Israel accept the proposal then being offered by the Lebanese government. At the time, the presentation bothered me. I reminded myself that these widely known intellectuals had every right to express themselves. Yet they were exploiting their reputations as popular writers to add weight to their political views. Next would be well known surgeons, musicians, and football players pounding us from the left or right, or a little of both. If we liked their medicine, music, or play on the field, we should think like them about the difficult national issues. Next up would be a resurrected Frank Sinatra. He was as well known as any of them, and he--or his friends in his name--had contributed money to Israel. It was in the Frank Sinatra cafeteria where a number of students, including a student in my workshop, were killed in July, 2002.
Grossman is also one of the regulars who walk around Mt Aytan on Saturday afternoon. He is a counter-clockwise walker. We are usually clockwise walkers. We pass one another toward the end of our walk and the beginning of his. Each of us says Shalom. We have never paused to talk. We recognize him, but he does not know who we are, except that we are usually at the same place about the same time each week.
This past Saturday we did not see him. It was a day of hard fighting in Lebanon. His son was in the thick of things. The Grossman's learned on Sunday morning that he had been killed.
The father has paid his dues. He can say what he wants about the war.