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How to Cure a Fanatic

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  2,598 ratings  ·  237 reviews
Internationally acclaimed novelist Amos Oz grew up in war-torn Jerusalem, where as a boy he witnessed firsthand the poisonous consequences of fanaticism. In two concise, powerful essays, the award-winning author offers unique insight into the true nature of extremism and proposes a reasoned and respectful approach to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He also comm ...more
Hardcover, 95 pages
Published February 5th 2006 by Princeton University Press (first published 2002)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  2,598 ratings  ·  237 reviews

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Ina Cawl
Mar 12, 2018 rated it liked it
One thing I always in any conflict is that always paint one group as righteous and the other group as wrongdoers, one group as good guys and the other group as a bad guys, one group as a victim who deserve our sympathy and another group as a villain who will be denigrated and stand accused of everything.
But this equation sometimes doesn’t work and it doesn’t work especially in Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
There is no good guys versus bad guys in this conflict but two righteous owners of the same
Aug 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Almost quaint in its optimism. I grabbed it to occupy my anxious mind and begin dismantling a couple of literal piles next to our bed.
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
A nice lady in Knoxville, Tennessee, attended one of my talks in the States this October. During lunch break, she sat next to me, started searching inside her bag and picked up a tiny book. “I’m enjoying this very much,” she said. “How I wish and pray his ideas will come to pass!” One month later the book was sent to me by mail, and I found out the lady’s name was Julie.

This was looking good: 1) Someone got me a book (always a delightful gesture) 2) “How to Cure a Fanatic”: Great title, plus I h
Oct 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
I'm not impressed. Mr. Oz correctly asserts that both Israelis and Palestinians have made mistakes and will need to make tough compromises in order to end the conflict. However, Mr. Oz draws a simplistic and unrealistic equivalency between the Israelis and Palestinians. This is the unsound foundation upon which he predicates his arguments. Mr. Oz completely ignores historical and current power imbalances between the State of Israel with its fully developed military machine and nuclear capability ...more
Apr 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
pages 88-99:

"I have never once in my life seen a fanatic with a sense of humor, nor have I ever seen a person with a sense of humor become a fanatic, unless he or she has lost that sense of humor. Fanatics are often sarcastic. Some of them have a very pointed sense of sarcasm, but no humor. Humor contains the ability to laugh at ourselves. Humor is relativism, humor is the ability to see yourself as others may see you, humor is the capacity to realize that no matter how righteous you are and how
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: middle-east
This book by a leader of the Israeli peace movement was recommended to me.

The title is more provocative than the writing.

Oz sees the political leaders of both the Israelis and the Palestinians as fanatics and a growing number of the citizens on both sides as more pragmatic. I'm not fully informed in the details, but his solution seems that the Palestinians give up more that the Israelis, which, for me, hurts his credibility as an honest broker.

He has some food for thought. He notes that both sid
Raluca Tigla
Dec 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a short book worth reading. I really love Amos Oz and his casual style of writing about political conflicts and more. You will find that behind the rows lays his soul and his way of being. Moreover, the history of Israel is quite interesting and through his books you can acquaint yourself with that history, with the story told by a man who loved the dream of Israel.
Farhan Khalid
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: political, israel, war, essays
I am not going to make things any easier for you by saying simply: these are the angels, these are the devils

It is a clash between right and right

The Jews were kicked out of Europe

There is no other country in the world which the Jews could ever call home

The Palestinians have tried to live in other Arab countries. They were rejected

They are Palestinians, and that’s the only country which they can hold on to

Some conflicts are very real; they are much worse than a mere misunderstanding

Apr 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: israel
"No man is an island, said John Donne, but I humbly dare to add: No man or woman is an island, but every one of us is a peninsula, half attached to the mainland, half facing the ocean – one half connected to family and friends and culture and tradition and country and nation and sex and language and many other things, and the other half wanting to be left alone to face the ocean.

I think we ought to be allowed to remain peninsulas. Every social and political system that turns each of us into a Do
Mar 14, 2011 rated it did not like it
This was a very disappointing book, on many levels. Oz was only interesting when off topic – he made some good points about globalization for instance, but on the subject of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict he offered little that was new and, in fact, little in the way of a coherent argument at all.

Lots of readers have commended this book for its neutrality – I just don’t see it. There are many implied ideas in the first essay, which do not square with the apparent explicit theme of the book, bu
Berit Lundqvist
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
A little book about a big and never-ending issue - fanaticism. Why are people radicalized? How do we stop them?

In the shadow of 9/11, Amos Oz tried to be a voice of reason in a young country torn by extremist views and conflicts.

But it isn’t as simple as a good guys vs. bad guys thing. Both Arabs and Jews have territorial rights and rights to their own culture, he claims.

“No man is an island, said John Donne, but I humbly dare to add: No man or woman is an island, but every one of us is a penins
Tariq Mahmood
Dec 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-east
Compromise,compromise, and compromise

No one says it is going to be easy, but it is the only real way forward. Wars are necessary, for self preservation and freedom, and to stop the aggressor, whoever it may be. The opposite of war is peace. Nations need to live in peace with each other.

This is a gem of a book filled with fantastic ideas. I found it impossible to contradict any of the logic on offer.

Arabs and Jews are similar::
The Common legacy between both Jews and Arabs is that they are trau
Michael Scott
Aug 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
How to Cure a Fanatic is a personal, non-aggressive introduction to an explosive contemporary subject: the confrontation between Israel and Palestine (in alpahabetical ordering). Amos Oz is no stranger to the issues, having been involved for decades in talking, doing, and writing on and about it. In contrast to In the Land of Israel, which presents through interviews the harsh field reality, How to Cure a Fanatic introduces several leads to the author's personal feelings: that fanaticism is not ...more
Judith Spapens
Aug 27, 2012 rated it did not like it
This little booklet is for anyone interested in hearing the voice of an Israeli "dove".
Amos Oz tries to get his point across of "peace but not love" and how the israeli-palestine conflict is one of "right versus right". This sounds all fine unless you have read more on the origins of the conflict (the Nakba, terrorism by the Stern gang etc). Israel IS imperialist and IS an apartheid state. It seems like in Oz's worldview every other state (the US, Great Britain, South Africa etc) does wrong and
Paula  Obermeier McCarty
This small book had some great thoughts in it. I liked the descriptions of the fanaticism in both Judaism and Islam. I also liked the advice for resolving the Israeli/Palestinian problem (involving a two-state solution).

He gave a good description of the complexity of the issue and the importance of painful compromises on both sides. I really liked his description of the land of Israel as a house with two families fighting over ownership and that a solution would be painful and complex (similar t
Michael Lieberman
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Bottom Line: A practical look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Israeli novelist/essayist contends the issue is simply one of real estate, & both parties need to put aside contentious stereotypes, religious beliefs, & hatreds, divide the land in painful compromise & move on. The claims of both groups are legitimate. The book is also a thoughtful examination of "fanaticism," the extreme uncompromising end of a spectrum in which anyone who disagrees is a traitor, a space where feelings exclu
John McAndrew
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This falls into the category of "If there was one book..."

Oz talks about the Arab/Jew Palestine/Israel Gordian knot, and about fanaticism in the view after 9/11. And about the broad variety of fanatics, whether political or anti-smoking or vegetarian or whatnot. He provides a trio of solutions – and a wry observation about one who wants to impose a different kind of behavior or worldview on fanatics.

This is one of those rare little books that is like a really fine dessert: you don't have to con
Mar 06, 2011 rated it liked it
This couple of essays seemed to state the bleeding obvious to some extent, to my mind, and was not very revelatory. Though it was sound commonsense, dealing with the Palestinian/israeli conflict coming from an Israeli, which was a nice change.
Aug 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of my best readings lately. "No man and no woman is an island, but everyone of us is a peninsula, half connected to family and friends and culture... And the other half wanting to be left alone to face the ocean. I think we ought to be allowed to remain peninsulas..."
Gaurav Andreas
I won't feign a deep knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. My only real exposure to it comes from this work. But that's not why I read it. I read it for the title essay 'How to Cure a Fanatic.' That's the knowledge that every person should make themselves privy to as we lose more and more people to fanaticism. Families and friends are being lost in this burning age. And no one knows how to make them see the evil in their ways. I expected concrete examples of how to cure fanaticism in pe ...more
Nishant Chandgotia
May 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I remember this a very long ago when I had just come to Israel. The beautiful prose was overwhelming in parts and the practicality of the written word quite underwhelming. Perhaps being practical was not the idea behind the book, yet I felt dissatisfied by the end!
When I read these types of books, I always feel like my brain isn't enough. It's like an ocean with deep meaning and reflection, and I'm a really bad swimmer who can't hold her breath for more than ten seconds. It was an interesting read, but I probably missed some important points. ...more
Horia Bura
Oz writes about the Arab-Palestinian conflict as objectively as possible for a member of one of the two peoples, even so impartially that you would not even say that he is an Israeli citizen directly concerned with this old conflict. By using humor in his approach, Oz clearly points out some of the main aspects of this historical quarrel, pointing out that both sides have been, at times, both right and wrong, as it usually is the case in such lasting misunderstandings.

The Israeli author also us
Harry Brake
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When you hear that sometimes the smallest packages pack the most punch, absolutely in the case where you get to hear Amos Oz's enlightened and philosophical view on events even more in your back yard than when this was published in 2002. From the essays he has published to the Q and A with Oz in the back, it is frightening how true these views and reactions to the conflict between Israel and Palestine are even in 2017.

Also, this is a shame world leaders can't act on events that will agree to dis
Sep 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this pamphlet-book less to understand how to cure the fanatics on either side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and more on how to overcome the fanaticism I see growing in the United States, not only in the political spectrum, but other areas as well. It seems to me that the polarization we are now seeing in the US is being intentionally fueled by the media trying to capture more eyeballs, politicians trying to win more votes and ordinary people who, after years of "You are special!" in ...more
Neil Gussman
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I like his perspective. In a hopeless situation like the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, it is nice to read a glimmer of rational hope.
Anna Adolfsson
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I rated four stars initially, then changed it to five.
I find it funny how Oz describes the way humans narrow their minds while struggling, how our suffering makes us callous to others' pain, then he goes on having very distinct opinions on matters that clearly are'nt black or white.

However I really had a good (although short) time with this. Several quotes saved. Like "The seeds of fanaticism always lie in uncompromising righteousness, the plague of many centuries."
Will definitely read more from
This book explores the curse of sanity. Amos Oz has spent much of his life in the Shalom Achshav ["Peace Now"] movement in Israel. He and his Jewish friends and Palestinian friends have been struggling to untie a knot which everyone else has been pulling tighter. How to Cure A Fanatic was published in 2006, 28 years after Shalom Achshav was founded. At that point, Amos Oz was like an American abolitionist in 1855. The immediate situation was hopeless, but a future light was beginning to dawn.

Meera Vijayann
Aug 02, 2015 rated it did not like it
I am a big, big fan of Amos Oz and this book totally broke my heart. I was so disappointed that his arguments were so simplistic and reductionist that it reduces the current situation on Israel and Palestine almost to a case of bickering siblings instead of decades of bloodshed. Certainly, we need to listen to both sides of the argument, but Oz seems to ignore the fact that Palestinians, for many years have been fighting for their dignity and their land against Israeli occupation. He points out ...more
Oct 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
It's not really as ambitious as its title, but this collection of two lectures and an interview is still worth a look. Oz tackles the longstanding dispute between Israel and Palestine with a wisdom and clarity that is refreshing. Does he solve the problem? Alas, no. Does he really sketch out a method to cure a fanatic? Again, he does not.

I'm certainly no expert on Middle Eastern politics, so I'm in no position to judge the viability or practicality of his suggestions, but what Oz writes feels ri
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Amos Oz (Hebrew: עמוס עוז‎; born Amos Klausner) was an Israeli writer, novelist, journalist and intellectual. He was also a professor of literature at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba. He was regarded as Israel's most famous living author.

Oz's work has been published in 42 languages in 43 countries, and has received many honours and awards, among them the Legion of Honour of France, the Goethe P

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“No man is an island, said John Donne, but I humbly dare to add: No man or woman is an island, but every one of us is a peninsula, half attached to the mainland, half facing the ocean – one half connected to family and friends and culture and tradition and country and nation and sex and language and many other things, and the other half wanting to be left alone to face the ocean.

I think we ought to be allowed to remain peninsulas. Every social and political system that turns each of us into a Donnean island and the rest of humankind into an enemy or a rival is a monster. But at the same time every social and political and ideological system that wants to turn each of us into no more than a molecule of the mainland is also a monstrosity. The condition of peninsula is the proper human condition. That's what we are and that's what we deserve to remain.”
“Всеки от нас е полуостров, наполовина свързан със сушата, наполовина обърнат към океана. Едната ни половина е свързана здраво със семейството, приятелите, културата, местната традиция, нацията, пола, езика и много други неща, а другата половина иска свободата да се обърне към океана.” 7 likes
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