Israeli Jewish Nation Building and Hebrew Translations of Arabic Literature

Hannah Amit-Kochavi

in Literature and Nation in the Middle East

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print February 2006 | ISBN: 9780748620739
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653102 | DOI:
Israeli Jewish Nation Building and Hebrew Translations of Arabic Literature

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Literature is an effective vehicle of expressing national energies, conflicts and aspirations. Literary translation aids in getting them across to another nation, where they will be received and interpreted according to the state of political and inter-cultural contacts between source and target literatures at the time when a particular translation is made and published. It is responsible for answering, first the question of whether a particular text is to be translated at all – and if so, why, by whom, and where it will be published – and next, the question of how it will be received by target readers: whether ignored, praised or rejected. This chapter aims to answer these questions with regard to two important segments of translation, of both classical and modern Arabic literature into Hebrew representing two opposite poles from the advent of Zionism in Palestine to the present day (1868 to 2005). The first pole demonstrates the way translations from Arabic into Hebrew were used to consolidate Jewish identity during the earliest stage of Jewish nation building in Palestine. The second demonstrates the earliest stage of recognition of the Palestinian national identity by Israeli Jewish culture. The data employed in the chapter draw on a comprehensive bibliography comprising over seven thousand translated items, as well as book reviews of translations of Arabic literature published in literary supplements of Hebrew dailies and weeklies, as well as literary magazines. The theory applied here is a modified combination of the work of two Israeli translation scholars, Itamar Even Zohar and Gideon Toury, both of Tel Aviv University.

Keywords: Arabic literature; Zionism; Jewish identity; Jewish nation building; Palestinian national identity; translations

Chapter.  4550 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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