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  • Does Work Liberate?The Holocaust as Homeopathic Trauma and Deep Structure in Israeli Drama and Performative Re/Presentation of the Middle East Conflict
  • Gad Kaynar (bio)

Oh no no no no, we don't compare. . . . Palestinians are Palestinians, Germany is Germany and the Holocaust is the Holocaust—The Holocaust is a very unique event in the human history. Of course, there were other genocides in the history—like the . . . mass murder in former Yugoslavia, but please, don't compare. The Holocaust is the Holocaust, and Rwanda is Rwanda. It's a completely different continent. Yusef, can you get me a chair? It is just that I hear again and again, from many people, from all kind of countries; like Switzerland like Belgium, how can you Jews—thank you Yusef—how can you Jews—after all you've been through—how can you do the same to the Palestinians? . . . BUT it doesn't mean that I think that what we are doing to the Palestinians is ok—it is not ok. It is wrong. It is Very very wrong. BUT—don't compare. For example, the wall—it's a very bad wall, very very bad wall—BUT, since there's a wall, there is no terror. BUT for that we have to imprison over a million people, BUT the Israelis have the right to defend themselves from terror, BUT those poor people—over a million! Need to live in this "prison" without sufficient food and medicine supply, which are basic human conditions, it's terrible, terrible. And the ghetto? It wasn't terrible? It was very terrible. It was very very terrible. But don't compare. It is very important [End Page 119] to remember, that the Israeli—Palestinian conflict is not a racist conflict, like it was in the Holocaust—BUT it doesn't mean the Israelis are not racist. They are very very racist. . . . Of course, not all Germans were Nazis. BUT not all Arabs are terrorists, BUT some do bomb themselves killing innocent women and children, BUT the Israeli army is also killing innocent women and children, BUT let's not compare. . . .

—Yael Ronen and the Company The Third Generation (Habimah and the Schaubühne, 2009).

Inflating by Deflating Intertwined Traumas: The Holocaust and the Nakba

This article engages with the interface of the Holocaust and the Nakba (The Palestinian catastrophe following Israel's 1948 War of Liberation) traumas as explicitly or implicitly re/presented in Israeli drama. I will delineate a developing chronology of Israeli Holocaust dramaturgy to show the emergence of both traumas in plays and performances to the present throughout several stations in the evolution of the Israeli Holocaust drama. Nowhere does this structure attain a more quantitatively abundant and qualitatively blatant enunciation than at the annual Akko Festival for Alternative Theatre. This trend culminated in the most recent festival, held at the beginning of October 2012. At least two of the award-winning shows infused the subject with provocative oral and sensual rhetorical articulation, unprecedented since the "mythological" production of Arbeit macht frei Mi'Toitland Europa (Work Liberates from the Dead Land Europe) conceived and directed by Dudi Maayan, the former head of the Akko Theatre Center (1991), with which we will engage later.

The production that won the prize for the best stage text—We Are Building a Port Here—a devised "spoken word" epic text, written by Anna Cohen-Yanai, Jonathan Kunda, and Neta Wiener—is a highly sophisticated, versed medley of musically orchestrated witty wordplays and allusions to traditional and modern etymological sources of the Hebrew language, abounding with acrobatic shifts between contrasting lingual levels.1 Hurled at the audience by the stand-up comedians who conceived it—in a manner reminiscent of Peter Handke's Insulting the Audience—the text incorporates, in its formalistic constitution, a dissolution of established Zionist myths, first and foremost butchering the "sacred cow" of the Holocaust as imbued in the outworn terms that have come to designate it. This becomes especially conspicuous in the tirade of the undefined, grotesque, and androgynous figure of "The Honorary President" (Nessiat Kavod in Hebrew, a wordplay denoting also "An Honorary Ride," to perdition as it turns out):

. . . They...


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pp. 119-143
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