Cite: Oppenheimer, The House of Rajani and the Limits of Zionist Discourse

Oppenheimer, Yochai. “‘How Bound the Arab Is to His Land’: The House of Rajani and the Limits of Zionist Discourse.” Translated by Rebecca Gillis. Prooftexts 32.3 (2012): 381-408.



This article examines the ways in which Alon Hilu undermines conventional literary representations of the Arab in The House of Rajani , offering alternative possibilities for contact and communication between Jews and Arabs. The division of the text between two narrators, each of whom reflects a distinct viewpoint, represents the contrast between the Zionist world of the First Aliyah and the Arab world of people who had dwelled in Palestine for generations. Hilu returns to Palestinian history in order to situate the experience of Arab exile center stage. Not only does Hilu read national history and the place of the Arab within it anew, but he signals the instability of national categories, their tendency to merge and thereby to create an intermediate space. The Arab in Hilu’s novel is immeasurably more complex and interesting than the familiar Arab as imagined by Hebrew and Israeli fiction in the past. He is understood through a lens of post-colonialism inconsistent with the dominant Israeli historiography and his human and collective experiences are presented with unprecedented power.

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