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Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 359 Reviews wrote imaginative prose in Yiddish and Hebrew. But to say that he ultimately "chose" Yiddish and she "chose" Hebrew, and that countless others followed suit is to revive a kind of intentional fallacy. Seidman stops well short of such reductions, but her invocation of the choice issue should remind us of the ongoing need to challenge its basic assumptions. The rhetoric of choice seems inappropriate to the dynamics of Yiddish-Hebrew language use and significance. The Jewish language wars are no longer fought on the streets or at home. They do not enliven political or social debates as they once did. But Seidman's book demonstrates how lively they may still be even today, even in English. Given their connection to what she and others have called a sexual dynamic, a familiar struggle between eros and logos, we can only hope that the war is not finally won by anyone. Anita Norich University ofMichigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109 DRAMA AND IDEOLOGY IN MODERN ISRAEL. By Glenda Abramson. pp. x + 265. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Cloth, $64.95. This excellent, perceptive study is a treat for both the scholar and the general reader of Israeli literature. It is much more than the story of dramatic literature in modem Israel. While tracing the history of Hebrew drama from the establishment of the State to contemporary reality, Glenda Abramson has also offered a brilliant, complex, and illuminating analysis of the Israeli people's ideological and psychological odyssey in the first fifty years of statehood. Along the way, Abramson manifests a deep understanding of modem Israel's cultural and social crises and their dramatic interpretations. Abramson's underlying thesis is that literature and life in Israel are closely interwoven, more so than in any other modem society. Israeli drama accompanied, reflected, interpreted, and criticized the turbulent transitions of politics and ideologies during the short life of this country. Drama, in both its written and theatrical form, started as a tool to boost the people's morale and reinforce the Zionist ideals and values which were Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 360 Reviews needed to build the young state and its new society. As the years wore on and the military flare-ups and political tensions with Israel's neighbors did not cease, Israeli playwrights proceeded to uncover the existential depression and the claustrophobic sense of siege that have set in. They also laid bare, and warned about, the moral and ethical erosion of the Israeli people as they replaced the old humanistic ideals of Zionism with materialism, greed and ultranationalism. Drama thus became an integral part of the social debate in modem Israel, often triggering heated public discourse by pointing out troubling social trends. More recently, plays by dramatists such as Hanokh Levin, Yehoshua Sobol, and others have themselves become the subject of intense controversies in the Israeli press and the public at large by confronting painful social issues with extreme candor, often using provocative, outrageous ideas and theatrical imagery. The tendency to evaluate Israeli plays not on their style and artistic achievement but on their content started during the struggle for statehood and the War of Independence. Dramatists saw themselves as social instruments , cultivating the myth of the hero and glorifying the "new Jew," a romantic figure of physical strength and toughness coupled with moral fortitude and humanistic values. Drawing on the collective myths of historical Judaism, such as Abraham's sacrifice of his son, David and Goliath, and Massada, dramatists such as Mossinzon, Shamir, and others reinforced the public's spirit of patriotism, self-sacrifice, and strong faith in the shared national destiny by creating stereotypical heroes who exemplified these qualities. The public responded to these plays with enthusiasm and passion, fmding in them the emotional catharsis and strength it needed in traumatic times. The sixties brought about the genre of political satire and the deflation of the myth of the hero. The public euphoria that followed the victory of the Six Day War found its dramatic reflection in only few plays. Rather than bolstering the pride in Israel's military prowess and the international admiration it brought, serious dramatists like Hanokh Levin...


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pp. 359-361
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