Arab-Israeli tensions and Kibbutz life in an early story by Amos Oz

This essay examines the multivalen themes in the allegorical tale “Navadim Vatzefa”/“Nomad and Viper” (1965) by Amos Oz. Penned just prior to the outbreak of the 1967 Six Day War, a time when Israel was consumed by a mood of siege and in imminent danger from its hostile Arab neighbours, this existential angst is acutely echoed and reverberates throughout the story. This paper will argue that while “Navadim Vatzefa”, which is set in an unnamed Kibbutz, revolves around the violent nature of Arab-Jewish relations, Oz has a tendency to generate a landscape in which there is perplexity and ambivalence towards the other; in this case, the Arabs.