This 1942 satire is set in the period of Israel’s emergent statehood. Agnon delivers a critique of pre-statehood society and leadership at the nadir of drought, wrapped up in self-importance and internal rifts over inconsequential matters while the very existence of the people is threatened from without. While there is room for historical or theoretical examinations of such a story, this article adopts a literary approach for its methodology. It employs textual analysis to highlight a cluster of literary devices including a leitmotif, reverberations of classical Hebrew texts, and exaggerations. Together they animate the scathing satire in this period piece. To deploy the irony in Shelom ‘Olamim–“Eternal Peace” Agnon installs each rhetorical device and echo in an inverted or perceptibly flawed fashion, and magnifies minutiae to hyperbolic proportions. In so doing he crafts a game of nahafokh-hu a topsy-turvy puzzle, making his medium the message. The puzzle and its pieces carry the storyteller’s caustic criticism of the inverted priorities and unwarranted hubris of the leaders of yishuv-era society on the brink of statehood. In contributing a thesis based on textual analysis, an allegorical translation of the ambiguous Hebrew title, and fresh translations of selected excerpts, this article offers English-readers access to the humor and irony embedded in Agnon’s multivalent Hebrew writing and word play.
Dori-Hacohen, Gonen, and Zohar Livnat. “Negotiating Norms of Discussion in the Public Arena: The Use of Irony in Israeli Political Radio Phone-In Programs.” Journal of Communication (early view; online first).
Phone-in radio programs are part of the public sphere and thus require open access, rationality, and practicality. Simultaneously, they are a media product, which requires entertaining content. We demonstrate these demands through the analysis of interactional irony in Israeli political radio phone-ins. From an emic perspective, callers see irony as detrimental to the discussions, yet hosts and regular callers use it to make entertaining interactions. Irony is a critical tool that points to violations of norms: the norm of a clear 2-sided interaction; norms akin to the Habermasian public sphere; and at the content level, irony is used to reject racist positions. Being indirect, irony can be used to create an entertaining yet critical discussion in the public sphere.
Equating bureaucratic entanglements with pain—or what, arguably, can be seen as torture—might seem strange. But for single Mizrahi welfare mothers in Israel, somatization of bureaucratic logic as physical pain precludes the agency of identity politics. This essay elaborates on Don Handelman’s scholarship on bureaucratic logic as divine cosmology and posits that Israel’s bureaucracy is based on a theological essence that amalgamates gender and race. The essay employs a world anthropologies’ theoretical toolkit to represent bureaucratic torture in multiple narrative modes, including anger, irony, and humor, as a counterexample to dominant U.S.–U.K. formulae for writing and theorizing culture.