Tag Archives: Ethnicity

Between The Salon And The Dream

I chose to etch out an interpretive step that would epitomize the new poetical modes, on the one hand and the engagement in identity and social existence questions, on the other hand, present in the poetry of Miry Ben-Simchon. The poem to which the proposed reading will be applied is “Towards a poem” (“Likr’at Shir), published in her first book, “Interested Not Interested” (Me’unyenet L’o Meunye’net) (Ben Simchon, 1983). I will endeavor to pause for a while over the text, and consider the symbolic struggle between two speakers that it contains. Paraphrasing Frederic Jameson, I will contend that the associative structure I put forth in my reading, strives towards providing insights of resolving the complex relationship between text ad contexts. Jameson determines that this relationship is not one of mirror images, but intricate and complex: “The text creates its context, marks it and produces it, and at the same time shrinks from it as soon as it proposes a change, as a solution to the contradictions in the context in which the text is made” (Jameson, 2004).
The fusing of the different elements in the reasoning and creative writing of her poetry, along with the utilization of the epistolary mode of free association insinuate a symbolic demolition of the representations of culture and language as “high”. This is partially an echo of the revolutions of the 1960’s, and the decision to break down cultural hierarchies and to bring the questions of identity “back” into cultural history. The associative poetical structure challenges the hegemonic “metaphysical” wording, detached from specific time and place – a wording in which poetics in Israel was fixated since the 1960’s – and in a composite move, it brings questions of ethnicity and feminism back into poetry.
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The Band’s Visit: Ethnicity and Stereotypes in The Israeli Cinema

The Band’s Visit tells the story of a police musical band from Alexandria, as it arrives from Egypt to Israel, following an invitation to participate at the opening ceremonies of an Arab cultural center in the city of Petach-Tikvah (Hebrew for “Gate of Hope”). A receptionist at Tel-Aviv’s new central bus station mistakenly directs the group to Beith-HaTikvah (“The House of Hope”, in Hebrew), a fictional peripheral development-town in southern Israel. The plot focuses on the supposedly random encounter between the Egyptian-Arab band and the inhabitants of the town, who are Mizrahi (Hebrew for ‘Eastern’ or ‘Oriental’), descendants of the Arab-Jews.
I claim that Arab and Mizrahi characters in the film signify purified and hybrid categories. They do not represent “The Mizrahi” or “The Arab” sociologically, rather re-posits them on the screen, as a passage between representation and re-presentation. Zionist nationalism hybridizes Arabness with Mizrahiness but camouflages and codifies the act of hybridization by purifying it from Mizrahiness. This purification is enabled when contrasting Arabness with Mizrahiness and forming them as two antinomic phenomena. Hence in the film Zionist Nationalism speaks in two simultaneous voices: 1. The Mizrahi voice in the film signifies the non-modern. I assert that the image of the Diasporic, helpless Jew has been projected onto the Mizrahi Jew; 2. The Arab voice in the film signifies Modernity. In the film, Arab characters are marked as the new ‘Jew’.

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