This article considers Ala Hlehel’s Au Revoir Acre and Ibtisam Azem’s The Book of Disappearance, two Arabic-language novels published in 2014 by Palestinian authors with Israeli citizenship. It argues that both texts thematize empathy, despite its familiar pitfalls, as central to their imaginings of an inclusive political future in Israel/Palestine in the post-Oslo era. In revivifying eighteenth-century Acre and the city’s triumphant defeat of Napoleon in 1799, Hlehel’s creatively embellished historical novel curates an effortless cascade of emotionally contagious intergroup identification in a space of historic Palestinian triumph. Conversely, in positing the sudden and inexplicable disappearance of all Palestinians from Historic Palestine, set against the backdrop of a troubled friendship and a searching soul, Azem’s speculative work offers a Fanonian critique of the politics of recognition and a concomitant turn to affect. Together, the texts constitute a future-oriented strand of contemporary Palestinian writing that counterintuitively thematizes intergroup empathy, drawing upon its symbolic currency to scaffold a pedagogical hermeneutics of decolonial overture.

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