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Inextricably Bonded

Israeli Arab and Jewish Writers Re-Visioning Culture

Rachel Feldhay Brenner

Publication Year: 2003

    Despite the tragic reality of the continuing Israeli-Arab conflict and deep-rooted beliefs that the chasm between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs is unbridgeable, this book affirms the bonds between the two communities. Rachel Feldhay Brenner demonstrates that the literatures of both ethnic groups defy the ideologies that have obstructed dialogue between the two peoples.
    Brenner argues that literary critics have ignored the variety and the dissent in the novels of both Arab and Jewish writers in Israel, giving them interpretations that embrace the politics of exclusion and conform with Zionist ideology. Brenner offers insightful new readings that compare fiction by Jewish writers Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua, David Grossman, and others with fiction written in Hebrew by such Arab-Israeli writers as Atallah Mansour, Emile Habiby, and Anton Shammas. This parallel analysis highlights the moral and psychological dilemmas faced by both the Jewish victors and the Arab vanquished, and Brenner suggests that the hope for release from the historical trauma lies—on both sides—in reaching an understanding with and of the adversary.
    Drawing upon the theories of Walter Benjamin, Jacques Lacan, Sigmund Freud, Emanuel Levinas, and others, Inextricably Bonded is an innovative and illuminating examination of literary dissent from dominant ideology.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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pp. ix-

I would like to express my gratitude to the various institutions and staff that made the writing of this book possible. I thank the University of Wisconsin–Madison, whose generous financial support aided my research and whose confidence in my scholarship was most reassuring....

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Prologue: Israeli Literatures and Their Presence in Zionist Culture

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pp. 3-17

Something happens to objects, beliefs, and practices when they are represented, reimagined, and performed in literary texts, something often unpredictable and disturbing. . . . The ability of artists to assemble and shape the forces of their culture in novel ways so that elements powerfully interact that rarely have commerce with one another in the...

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Part 1. Zionism and the Discourses of Negation: Is Post-Zionism Really “Post”?

We shall pronounce here the bitter and terrible truth—that our leaders . . . have not paid appropriate attention to the great value of neighborly relations. . . . Beginning with Herzl and his idea of political Zionism, the Zionist propaganda in all countries and in all languages has described the land . . . as a desert...

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Introduction: Toward Rediscovery of the Present in the Past

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pp. 19-26

To a remarkable extent, the “bitter and terrible truth[s]” that Yosef Eliahu Chelouche directs at the Zionist project sound very much like the “truths” of the contemporary critical revision of the Zionist project; the objectives of Chelouche’s disapproval seem to anticipate the Zionist discourses...

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Chapter 1. Zionist Voices of Dissent: Ahad Ha’Am and Martin Buber

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pp. 27-50

The determination with which both Ahad Ha’Am and Martin Buber disapproved of political Zionism would most likely have earned them vehement denunciations from the establishment Zionists...

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Chapter 2. The Zionists: Colonized Colonizers

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pp. 51-73

The Zionist movement declared that upon returning to the motherland Jews would undergo a transformation from a subjugated minority in anti-Semitic Europe to an independent nation possessing its own territory...

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Chapter 3. The Land as Homeland?

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pp. 74-81

Is it possible that although the expectations of physical return and of political sovereignty have been fulfilled, the dream of transforming the land into a homeland has not been actualized? Is it possible that the repossession and revival of the land has failed to create an organic tie with...

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Part 2. Dissenting Literatures and the Literary Canon

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Introduction: Modern Hebrew Literature and Its Ideological Boundaries

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pp. 83-87

In his discussion of the “cultural controversy” among the various Zionist camps on the threshold of the twentieth century, Avner Holtzman identifies three projections of Jewish culture in the future Jewish state. First...

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Chapter 4. Israeli Jewish Fiction of Dissent, Its Writers, and the Canon

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pp. 88-110

In his discussion of the “cultural controversy” among the various Zionist camps on the threshold of the twentieth century, Avner Holtzman identifies three projections of Jewish culture in the future Jewish state. First...

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Chapter 5. Israeli Arab Fiction and the Mainstream: Dissent and Strategies of Canonization

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pp. 111-132

The phenomenon of Israeli Arab writers and their dissenting fic-tion1 presents the establishment with a specific issue of reception. Inthis case canonical appropriation ...

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Chapter 6. The Canon and the “True Heart of Europe”

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pp. 133-137

In retrospect, it is possible to argue that the critical response to Mansour’s first novel in Hebrew by an Israeli Arab presaged the subsequent critical reception of Israeli Arab fiction. The type of reception that claims the...

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Part 3. Discourses of Bonding

Peace is a dialogue between two stories, none of which should beimposed on either party. My country has two names: Palestine andIsrael, and my dream is to build one shared history on the same land....

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Introduction: Toward a Redefinition of History

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pp. 139-152

Only that historian will have the gift of fanning the spark of hope in the past who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins. . . . Whoever has emerged victorious participates to this day in the...

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Chapter 7. The Traumas of Victory and Defeat: S. Yizhar’s “Hirbet Hizah” and Emile Habiby’s Pessoptimist

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pp. 153-172

In his discussion of the autobiographical genre, John Freccero postulates that “every narrative of the self is the story of a conversion [that] implies the death of the self as character and the resurrection of the self as author...

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Chapter 8. Bonds of Confession: A. B. Yehoshua’s “Facing the Forests” and Atallah Mansour’s In a New Light

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pp. 173-205

In the previous chapter I focused on the striking absence of interaction between the victors and the defeated in Yizhar’s “Hirbet Hizah” and Habiby’s Pessoptimist . As represented in these stories, the Zionist mainstream, locked in its doctrine of exclusion, remained oblivious to the...

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Chapter 9. Descent into Barbarism: Amos Oz’s “Nomad and Viper”

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pp. 206-220

To begin with a brief plot synopsis of “Nomad and Viper,” in a summer beset by drought Israeli military authorities allows a starving Bedouin tribe to move to the southern part of Israel. The Arabs set up their encampment...

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Chapter 10. Melancholia and Telos: Amos Oz’s My Michael and Emile Habiby’s Saraya, Daughter of the Ghoul

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pp. 221-247

The tension between the trauma of war and the ideological suppression of memory defines the theme of the texts selected for analysis. Arguably Oz’s most celebrated novel,...

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Chapter 11. Tales That Ought to Be Told: David Grossman’s Smile of the Lamb and Anton Shammas’s Arabesques

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pp. 248-283

To demonstrate the centrality of the storytelling motif in both novels, I wish briefly to recapitulate the plots of each of these works. In Arabesques the two interweaving narratives are entitled “The Tale” and...

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Epilogue: Longing for Hope

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pp. 284-290

This study was conceived at the time of the Oslo Agreements, when hopes for peace were high. At its completion, however, the second Palestinian uprising, the intifada known as Al Aqsa, was raging and the failure...


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pp. 291-324


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pp. 325-338


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pp. 339-349

E-ISBN-13: 9780299189631
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299189600

Publication Year: 2003