My own personal connection is that wrote reviews in the 1980’s and 1990’s of 6 of his books, mostly for the San Francisco Chronicle; I’ve now posted those to my website, here.
But my reflection upon his passing is that it feels symbolic of the passing of the possible achievement of peace via a two-state solution. I have always said that the two-state solution is the only possible “solution” – but this is no guarantee that it will be agreed to. As of now, it seems to have been killed by the maximalist nationalists on both sides, and on the Israeli side most notably by the political assassination murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 by a right wing Israeli nationalist. In this case, the assassin was successful, as this was a blow from which “the peace camp” never recovered. There is always debate about whether a line preventing a two-state solution has been crossed, but the continuing settlement activity of the Israelis makes a territorial compromise increasingly difficult and unlikely – so we are left with a de-facto one-state situation, which is only a guarantee of continuing conflict.
So, Oz completes his life with this task unfinished – but such is life, for all of us. But as long as we are alive, it is our choice to try to make things right. As written in the Talmud:
Rabbi Tarfon taught: “The day is short, the work is great…it is not your task to finish the work but neither are you free to exempt yourself from it.” (Ethics of the Fathers 2:15-16)