Cite: Mendelson-Maoz, Immigration in Modern Hebrew Literature


Mendelson-Maoz, Adia. "Amos Oz’s A Tale of Love and Darkness within the Framework of Immigration Narratives in Modern Hebrew Literature." Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 9,1 (2010): 71-87.


Jewish immigration to Eretz Israel is one of the constitutive narratives of Israeli nationality. The Zionist enterprise cast immigration and assimilation in a positive light by using the Hebrew word aliyah to describe immigration to Israel, linked to the notion of people returning to their homeland. In reality, however, the immigration process was often diametrically opposed to the optimistic aliyah story. Most immigrants, once in Israel, found themselves to be outsiders, yearning for their lost homes, friends and culture, and unable to view the new land as their home.
Over the last few decades, Israeli scholars have begun to challenge the concepts underlying aliyah. In the wake of the ongoing debate on nationality, many prefer to replace the word aliyah with immigration, which suggests that Israel should accept a diversity of identities and cultures.
This article presents a new model to account for this. Following Homi Bhabha’s distinction between the pedagogical and the performative and the idea of heterotopy in Foucault’s writing, I demonstrate that narratives of immigration express dialectical relationships between a utopian pedagogical narrative of aliyah and a personal performative narrative of immigration. I illustrate these relationships through major narratives of modern Hebrew literature, and suggest that they are at the core of Oz’s novel A Tale of Love and Darkness.



Keywords: Israel: Literature, Amos Oz, Aliyah / Immigration to Israel, עמוס עוז, סיפור על אהבה וחושך

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