“It’s a real art, you don’t appreciate it, to live this kind of double life among us, to live our world and to live its opposite” — Adam, The Lover
Throughout history it is the artists — the painters, the singers, the authors — who have been able to say what the politicians can’t or won’t, to describe the emotions, nuances, and beauty of a society. The censorship and manipulation of art by political regimes has been, and continues to be, an early sign of oppression, tyrannzy, and fascism. This is not coincidental. Art has the ability to play a vital role within areas of conflict. Art can challenge assumptions. Art can expose dismal realities. Art can invoke feeling in ways more “real” than any “fact” about where a border runs.
As a student of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I understand the difficulty of unpacking the complex history, the myriad political standpoints, and the seemingly impenetrable question of what “justice” in the region looks like. On this subject, we are constantly challenged to wade to wade through the “facts,’ in order to determine what we believe the truth to be. Perhaps then, there is merit in taking another approach — in not directly seeking the “facts,” but rather in turning to those who convey societal truths through other means. In the words of Oscar Wilde, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
By looking at Israeli and Palestinian literature, it is possible to shed light on certain cultural and social realities that are lost in negotiations, mandates, and U.N. resolutions. It is for this reason that I seek to critically explore an array of Israeli and Palestinian literature that has been published throughout the course of the conflict. From long-famous authors like Amos Oz and Ghassan Kanafani, to newer writers like Sayed Kashua and Suad Amiry, I want to explore the past, present, and future of the conflict through a new lens. Some of these books I have read before, some I will be unraveling for the first time, but all promise to be entertaining and enlightening reads. These stories are largely works of fiction, and though the characters may not exist, it is through them that these authors are able to convey very deep truths about life in Israel and Palestine.