Musings about Literature…

This week, Joe Winkler in the Huffington Post published a book review, “Engaging Palestinian Literature: A Jewish Journey Into Empathy.” He speaks of his experience and difficulty reading the novel, “I Saw Ramallah” by Mourid Barghouti. It occurred to me that many of us know little to nothing about literature written by Palestinians be they citizens of Israel or living in other places across the globe. This summer when preparing for my Temple Shalom class focused on modern poetry of the State of Israel I spent time reading poetry written by Palestinian Israelis as well as Jewish Israelis. I even chose to include a few of the poems in class. The time spent in this learning exercise proved to me how ignorant I was about this important genre of Middle Eastern literature.

Reading Palestinian literature is emotionally difficult. As Winkler also questions in his article – should one try to maintain the perspective of an outsider when reading this type of work or should we view this literature from the lens of a Jews and perhaps Zionists?

Take a look at this article and let me know what you think:

Please post your comments and responses on the blog!!


One thought on “Musings about Literature…

  1. Ofer says:

    The Israeli Palestinian conflicts has many levels, the historical, the political and the personal; The failures of leaderships and the impact they have on individuals and, yes, on poets. One can argue about the former while feel empathy towards the latter.
    But what caught my eye in Winkler’s piece was the reference to Psalm 137. We know it for it’s beginning (On the waters of Babylon..) from the very moving music that Don McLean introduced and we adopted in our camps. We know it from its middle (If I forget thee, Jerusalem..) that we repeat in weddings, that very emotional day. Few know it for it’s last two verses that talk about avenging against Babylon (happy is the one who holds and crush your toddlers against the rock). Definitely not one of the highest points in Jewish literature. The more things change, the more they stay the same – a few months ago two Palestinians knifed five members of an Israeli family, including a four month old baby in her crib.
    Yes, there may be another level of understanding the conflict, maybe it’s geographical or maybe it’s cultural. It seems that 2,500 years of human development bypassed that region and it is steeped in the same culture that prevailed there in the days of the first Temple.
    I applaud Joe Winkler’s attempt to find humanity in those whom he may consider enemies. Seventy years ago a beast ravaged Europe and from the ashes arose a peaceful political union. Seven years ago a beast no less vicious ravaged Rwanda and the rivers of blood became a life affirming process of reconciliation. I hope there is a Winkler like figure on the Palestinian side and those literary efforts will prevent the next disaster before it occurs.

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