This essay is dedicated to the writings of Sayed Kashua, the young Israeli Palestinian novelist, journalist, and screenwriter who has become a central, if controversial, figure within the Israeli public domain: a target of both political and literary praise and blame. Specifically the essay examines Kashua's active participation in the Israeli (Hebrew) public sphere and the way in which his writings take part in the construction of a critical minority discourse. By this I do not simply mean the obvious: that, as a Palestinian citizen of Israel, Kashua occupies a minority position, which is therefore “reflected” in his writing. To the contrary, I argue that what is significant about Kashua's writings is that they seem to engage in the destruction of the very perception of coherent and natural “national affiliations” as they call attention to the discursive processes through which the Israeli Arab/Palestinian is created as a national minority who as such is also (and necessarily so) a traitor, an inauthentic Palestinian, a wannabe Jew, in short, a failed identity. Indeed, Kashua's insistence on his “Israeliness” (by writing in Hebrew, referring to himself as an Israeli Arab, and rejecting the demand that he be more “authentically Arab”), while repeatedly documenting the impossibility of actually being an Israeli-Arab or Israeli-Palestinian, draws attention to the limits of any national discourse as such to successfully account for the question of minorities. Regarding the experience of the Israeli Palestinian as a site of productive ironic performativity, Kashua's texts, I conclude, break open the monolithic image of the nation, exposing the inherent violence and contradictions involved in positioning Israel as a “Jewish State” and in situating Israeli Palestinians as incomplete members of either Israeli or Palestinian (national) collectives.
Skip Nav Destination
Gil Hochberg; To Be or Not to Be an Israeli Arab: Sayed Kashua and the Prospect of Minority Speech-Acts. Comparative Literature 1 January 2010; 62 (1): 68–88. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00104124-2009-033
Download citation file: