2021/ 2022

Omri (Hannah) Ben Yehuda

Mizrahim in Israel – Politics, Literature, History

Previous Fellowships: 2020/ 2021, 2019/ 2020

Omri (Hannah) Ben Yehuda (he/she) is a scholar of comparative Jewish Literatures. Her work focuses on Jewish literatures in German and Hebrew, Mizrahi and Israeli literature, Holocaust literature and postcolonial studies. She is a former Minerva Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for German Philology in the Free University of Berlin, and served as the head of the research group Gaza: Towards the Landscape of an Israeli Hetrotopia at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. His comparative essay on the Holocaust, the Nakba and Mizrahi Trauma was published in The Holocaust and the Nakba: A New Grammar of Trauma and History, edited by former EUME Fellow Bashir Bashir and Amoz Goldberg (2019 Columbia UP), his essay on the Mizrahim and the 1967 War was published in Jadmag (Jadaliyya), and his postcolonial reading of Kafka's "A Hunger Artist" was published in the Tel Aviver Jahrbuch für deutsche Geschichte 45 (2017). He also publishes on Mizrahi literature, S.Y. Agnon and Ch.N. Bialik in venues such as Prooftexts, Shofar, Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, and Journal of Jewish Identities. His Mizrahi and colonial reading of the Netflix thriller Fauda was published with AJS Review. His book The Speech Act of Kafka and Agnon was published with Mossad Bialik Publishers in Jerusalem, 2019 and his second book Auseinandergeschrieben: The Collapse of Storytelling in Modern Jewish Literature, was published by The Hebrew University Magnes Press in 2019 as well. He coedits (with Dotan HaLevi) a volume on Gaza in Israeli culture (confirmed participants include Amira Hass, Haviva Pedaya and Maya Brazilai) to be forthcoming with Pardes Publishing. In the academic year 2021/22 she will be an associated EUME Fellow.

Mizrahim in Israel – Politics, Literature, History

Mizrahim, an almost artificial construct that was created after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 in order to define and categorize its non-European Jewish residents, are at the center of this research which champions the term and avoids its conflation with “the Arab-Jew,” and in this way stresses that Mizrahim deserve to be addressed, studied, and explored, also via their shattered and traumatic present. It suggests that the Mizrahi is the main political frame to understand Zionism’s inner attempt of colonizing the Jew himself while divorcing him from his oriental residues. The research encompasses major works of literature, film and television, focusing on performativity and its traumatic manifestations in the process of hishtaknezut (passing as European) and of Ashkenazi, Mizrahi and Palestinian immersion in one another within the process of hitbolelut (Jewish assimilation). It offers a range of genealogies of love and rivalry (prevalent in the condemnations of lacking a “love for Israel,” or “loving Arabs” in conjunction with “Jewish self-hatred”) East, West, Orientalism and the Jewish condition which aims to read Israel with the lenses of race and racial profiling (thereby re-racializing the Jew himself). This research aims to challenge the distinctiveness of these genealogies by implying that the Mizrahi offers a path to not only reclaim Arab-Jews, but to find, address and reclaim Jewish identity and Zionism as a whole.