Abstract

This article is about a recent wave of literary dystopias published in Israel, most of which center on the soon-to-come destruction of the Jewish state. Notable among these are The Third (Ha-shlishi) by Yishai Sarid (2015), Mud (Tit) by Dror Burstein (2016), and Nuntia (Kfor) by Shimon Adaf (2010). These texts draw on biblical or Rabbinic Hebrew, Jewish sources, and Jewish historical events (specifically the destruction of the First and Second Temples), making them just as much about a dystopian past as they are about a dystopian future. They are, in other words, dystopias of a circular temporality: emerging from and moving toward (Jewish) dystopia. This recent wave of Israeli dystopian narratives is primarily preoccupied with the past and future of Judaism, the Jewish people, and Israel as a secular-yet-Jewish state. Most interesting, perhaps, is the complete absence of Palestinians from these texts and from this dystopic imagination. Despite their obvious presence in Israel’s current reality, Palestinians have no role whatsoever in these texts. We are dealing therefore with exclusively Jewish dystopias. Read against some of the dystopian white South African writings under Apartheid, the complete absence of Palestinians in the recently published Israeli dystopias, appears particularly disheartening. Neither partner nor enemy, Palestinians do not even share in a future nightmare with Israeli Jews. We are left with the following questions: Does writing a Jewish Israeli dystopia require eliminating Palestinians from the narrative? Is it possible (how is it possible?) to think of a Jewish (Israeli) future, present, and past without thinking about a Palestinian past, present, and future? Following the example of South African dystopias, this article concludes that for such literary and ethical concerns to be critically explored, Israel must first be (officially) recognized as an apartheid regime.

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