It was February 1946. The place, Neurenberg, Germany. To be more specific; a small jail cell not far from the famous courtroom where he had just stood trial for crimes against humanity.
Obersturmbahnfuher Otto Henke had just been sentenced to life in prison for his part in the murder of hundreds and probably thousands of Jews. He committed these acts because he firmly believed it was his national duty to do so. Henke was on his way up the ladder of Nazi leadership when the war ended and was caught by the allies.
Professor Henry Goldstein, a noted ( atheist, Jewish) author, and peace activist before the war belonged to a group of intellectuals that insisted upon always seeing the"other" side's point of view in every situation. It is simply impossible, he insisted, that one side can be totally right and the other totally wrong. That was far too simplistic and an approach that only prolonged conflict. History bore that out he explained.
He would not accept the notion that some people were irretrievable. The dialogue was always welcome with anyone who could be convinced to engage in it.
When professor Goldstein completed his latest book, "Two sides of the river", he was delighted to rush an autographed copy to Herr Henke. He wrote that he hoped that his book would bring the two together and that he looks forward to greeting him "on the outside”.
We do not know for sure what the reaction of the dedicated Nazi war criminal was to professor Goldstein's gift.
The above is fiction. The following is not.
In March 2011, Amos Oz sent imprisoned former Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti a copy of his book A Tale of Love and Darkness in Arabic translation with his personal dedication in Hebrew: “This story is our story, I hope you read it and understand us as we understand you, hoping to see you outside and in peace, yours, Amos Oz” .
Marwan Barghouti(head of the "PLO/Tanzim" terror group) is serving multiple life sentences in an Israeli jail. He is responsible for the murder of great numbers of Jews and for planning to build on his successes. He, like our Herr Henke, is a leader of a movement that educates and incites to anti-Semitism and carries out continual murderous attacks against Jews. For him and his fellows, just as the Nazis before him, there is no greater enemy of his people and of mankind than the Jews.
He is a leader of the largest anti Jewish ideology group since Nazism and is responsible for the murder of more Jews than any other - since the Nazis.
So why did Amos Oz send the mass murderer and Jew hater his autographed book?
You may ask yourself this question as I do myself.
His approach is not an isolated phenomenon among intellectual Jews in Israel and abroad.
I still do not understand it.
I have not read any of Oz's books, though I have no doubt that they deserve the praise they have received.
I will not join the outpouring of praise for the celebrated Israeli author who just passed away, as I think of the smirk on the face of Barghouti as he leafs through the dear gift from his "enlightened' friend - the "useful idiot"
People like Amos Oz spent much time and energy explaining to the world how we Jews were not as right as you might think and that our enemies were not the villains you might have been told of.
Don't be too pro Israel.
He was the most powerful advocate of the above message. Am I sorry that our enemies will no longer enjoy the comfort of his embrace?
Should I be?