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305 CHAPTER 6 Conclusion A complex understanding of the literary production processes in modern Western culture teaches us that the much envied uniformity . . . is not even close to “normal” . . . the normative unification exists . . . only as an ideological super-structure that makes use of the forceful resources that are at the disposal of cultural institutions (canonization, exclusion from the canon, resource allocation or denial, etc.) in order to strengthen the ideological hegemonic socio-political position of a certain elite group, and to provide a universal semblance to this group’s particular ethnicity . . . In the last fifty years, . . . The “great” national literary traditions are forced to adapt . . . authors that are not cultured by these “great” traditions, and their mother tongue is not the language in which they create, or they are not members of the ethnic group that had cultivated the dominant literary elite, or they are unwilling to accept the gender restrictions the dominant culture is committed to. This new perspective that almost never derives from an “original” purely esoteric world, but is rather an offspring of the hybrid margins— where the excluded “foreigners” were shaped by the dominant culture’s power and authority, yet also subverted it and infused into it the reverberation of their oppression—is becoming an acceptable and central form of expression in contemporary literature. 1 In these lines, Dan Miron describes a phenomenon that is present in almost every book that has been written and published in Israel in recent decades. Israeli culture and literature have always been intensively occupied with questions of identity and its representation. In the first decades of the twentieth century , it attempted to build a unifying concept and a national narrative that would attract newcomers and create a sense of belonging among the different cultures and languages of the immigrants. In the last decades of the twentieth century, while acknowledging that the sense of unity was an illusion that took shape at 306 CHAPTER 6 the cost of a forceful exclusion of other cultural groups, Israeli literature began to focus not on the question of “Israeli identity” as a singular concept, but on questions of multiple and hyphenated identities. This book has strived to analyze this phenomenon and to explore the diverse cultural richness of Israel’s literary scene. This book has sought to outline the landscape of Israeli literature through a comparative discussion of literatures of various minority groups. Its aim was to draw a panoramic view, replacing the teleological linear-homogeneous historical narrative with a diversity of voices, a multiplicity of origins, and different perspectives, as well as to illustrate the multicultural nature of Israeli literature. I chose to focus on four major national and ethnic groups among the many marginal groups in Israel—Palestinian citizens of Israel, Mizrahim, migrants from the FSU, and migrants from Ethiopia. These four groups challenge the ethnonational hegemonic culture, and demonstrate hyphenated identities that have evolved throughout the years in dialectic relationships with their cultural (often imagined) origin and the cultures of contemporary Israel. I headed to this academic journey with a desire to better understand the cultural and poetic possibilities of marginal cultural groups. My assumption was that difficulties in reception and the continuous struggle for self-definition and acknowledgment leave poetic traces in literary works. These literary works, thus, may offer new creative trajectories that construct different perspectives on the relationships between politics, ideology, and art. Indeed, the alternative histories and the diversity of voices that are presented here have shown that, for years, numerous fascinating paths have grown alongside the major path of Israeli literature . Moreover, it seems that these alternative poetic paths are now leading the Israeli literary field, setting its tone, and ultimately dismantling the center. Taking this idea a step forward, I would like to briefly review the debate on one of Israel’s canonical works of the 2000s, written by a central figure in Israeli literature—Amos Oz’s novel Sipur al ahavah ve-hoshekh (A Tale of Love and Darkness, 2002). Oz’s novel focuses on the trauma of immigration, uncovering the alienation , death, and failure of an entire uprooted generation. This book is the author ’s own reflection on his family history and the irrevocable damage that was caused to them when they immigrated, culminating in his mother’s suicide when he was a child. While the Zionist establishment demanded that the immigrants cut themselves off from their diasporic home and forget their previous identities, language, memories, and culture,2 Oz exposes, as Sarah...


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