Abstract: When Khirbet Khizeh by S. Yizhar was published in 1949, the story was criticized for its lack of historical consciousness. At the time, the text's failure to acknowledge the expulsion of Palestinians as a necessity gave rise to widespread objections. Ironically enough, the same story has been criticized in recent Israeli post-colonial writings as effacing the Other through exclusion, as overt identification, or as imagining the Other only in terms of the national subject. Through close reading, this essay re-examines the relation between expulsion and exile in Khirbet Khizeh , thus reassessing the relation between self and Other. Informed by the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, the essay explores the Palestinian expulsion as triggering another exile, the self-exile of Jewish settlers. Anticipating Levinas, Yizhar portrays his narrator's ethical responsibility through the metaphor of listening to an Other's cry. It is the soldiers' deafness and the narrator's failure to respond that turn the expulsion into an unheard cry inducing trauma for both nations, trauma which will erupt again in violent repetition. The tragedy of this ending can be mitigated by tracing Yizhar's ethical economy, calculating human voices in the place of territories.
Hebrew Studies – National Association of Professors of Hebrew
Published: Feb 5, 2011