Heartbroken at the loss of Amos Oz (, 29 December). Like his Israeli friend David Grossman, he was so much more than the great writer. His chosen name, Oz, gave strength to us lesser mortals and encouraged us to believe that one day Israel would again become a “light among the nations”. Probably more valued abroad than at home, he was not afraid to speak out when his country disappointed him.
I am so glad I heard him speak several times at . His English was perfect, but he was always generous in his praise of his favoured translator Nicholas de Lange, describing their relationship as a “marriage where each partner knows what the other is about to say”.
Thank you, Amos, for all your wonderful writing and for never losing hope for your country. Respect.
• Amos Oz’s challenge to the Israelis, soon after their stunning 1967 victory, what David Grossman described as “the catastrophe of the occupation”, had a resonance during the UK’s operations in Afghanistan. Faced with a high number of civilian “collateral damage” casualties and allegations of poor behaviour by some British troops, challenged Britain’s senior military leaders. “Tell me,” he said, “how this doesn’t look like an occupation?” Whether the PM knew of Oz’s work, I don’t know, but the insight is a profound one and should be a standing challenge to any future “armed missionaries”, however good their initial intentions.