The Literary Representation of the Jew in Postmodern Arabic Fiction

Saddik M. Gohar


For decades, the historical and political ramifications of the Palestinian / Israeli dispute not only created hostility between the Arabs and the Jews but also undermined the possibility of initiating a mutual dialogue between the two peoples.  This paper aims to re-historicize the literary representation of the Jew in postmodern Arabic / Palestinian fiction dealing with the Palestinian question to illuminate controversial issues integral to both sides of the conflict. The paper argues that Palestinian authors particularly the great Palestinian writer, Ghassan Kanafani, provided counter-narratives deploying positive Jewish images in his literary works –in the post-1948 era- challenging orthodox and conservative Arabic discourse and paving the way for a new era of sympathetic Jewish literary images in Arabic literature.  In Returning to Haifa: Palestine's Children, the writer not only incorporates Palestinian suffering and displacement - as in traditional Arabic literature - but also engages the Jewish history of diaspora and genocide. In other words, Kanafani in Returning to Haifa: Palestine's Children attempts to underline human issues of common interest for the two partners in the conflict foreshadowing the political agenda of his literary works.


Jews –Arabs – Holocaust – Conflict – reconciliation – re-historicization.

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