Israeli television series have received remarkable international acclaim in recent years. In his talk, Omri Ben Yehuda examines the political implications of this success in terms of suspicious and hostile imaginations of Islam, and the way in which the Jew—and the Israeli as the embodiment of a new Jew—performs the role of a liminal figure of mediation. He seeks to unravel these tensions while arguing that during the last decade—a period defined by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rule—Israeli cultural representation experienced a significant paradigmatic shift exemplified in its unflinching confrontation with the violent reality of Jewish sovereign existence in the Middle East. In relinquishing the conventions of psychological-drama in its representations of the crises of conscience and moral dilemmas plaguing the warrior, Israeli culture rejected one of the symbols of its self-perception, that of “shooting and crying,” in favor of a blunter confrontation with its own violence. Omri Ben Yehuda suggests an approach to reading classic literary texts (by S. Yizhar and Yehuda Amichai) and current televisual representations of political conflict and warfare that focuses particularly on the way these texts justify violence: either by portraying the warrior as a victim, or as an outcast possessing special sensitivities, or lastly, as the one who finally acts out the traumatic violence between Arabs and Jews by shooting, and this time, by shooting and killing.
Omri Ben Yehuda is a scholar of comparative Jewish Literatures. His work focuses on Jewish literatures in German and Hebrew, Mizrahi and Israeli literature, Holocaust literature and postcolonial studies. He formerly served as the head of the research group Gaza: Towards the Landscape of an Israeli Hetrotopia at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute and co-edits a collection of article on the topic which should be published in summer 2021. His comparative essay on the Holocaust, the Nakba and Mizrahi Trauma was published in The Holocaust and the Nakba published in 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. Ben Yehuda’s Mizrahi and colonial reading of the Netflix thriller Fauda was published in AJS Review. He is the author of two books and numerous scientific papers published in Shofar, Prooftext, Journal of Jewish Identities and Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, Theory and Criticism and many more.
In accordance with the measures against the spread of the coronavirus, this seminar session will be held virtually via ZOOM. Please register in advance via eume(at)trafo-berlin.de to receive the login details. Depending on approval by the speakers, the Berliner Seminar will be recorded. All audio recordings of the Berliner Seminar are available via the account of the Forum Transregionale Studien on SoundCloud.