The Hebrew University of Jerusalem,

Rothberg International School,

Division of Undergraduate Studies

Spring Semester 2017



48624: Israeli Narratives of War and Peace

Instructor: Professor Elliott Malamet

Time: Tuesday, 14:30-16:00; Thursday 12:30-14:00


Office Hours: By appointment

Course Description: This course will explore the way Israeli literature of war, violence and reconciliation—both fiction and non-fiction—opens a crucial window in understanding issues at the heart of the Israeli experience. War and the national ethos of military service has both shaped the cultural discussion of Israel since its founding, and is also the subject of that same culture. Attitudes to war and conflict are not simply the stuff of political or ideological debate; rather, they are a formative marker of identity, of what it means to be an Israeli. We will examine how this writing addresses the central paradoxes of contemporary Israel, of the demarcation between the powerless Jew of the exilic past vs. the confident and empowered Israeli future. Writing about war simultaneously reveals an urgent sense of collective identity, and yet the deep internal fissures in Israeli consciousness. Literature—novels; essays; journalism; memoir; poetry-- about war and conflict thus provides a unique opportunity to understand how Israelis think, argue, struggle, and change.


Course Preparation and Participation - 15% This mark entails regular attendance as well as reading of the relevant readings for each week.

First Essay - 35%. Due in Week 5.

Final Essay - 50% Due May 18, 2017

Course Syllabus


February 21/23: Introduction. War and Violence in Short Fiction  

S. Yizhar, “The Prisoner” in Jacob Sonntag (ed.), New Writing from Israel 1976, London: Corgi, 1976, p. 140-156. Overseas Library H08 S700; ERESERVE 001224721

A B Yehoshua, Facing the Forests, Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Company, 1970. Overseas Library H3 Y43

Etgar Keret, “The Surprise Egg” in The Nimrod Flip-Out, London: Chatto & Windus, 2005, p. 75-80. Main Library H3 K41; ERESERVE 002025342

February 28/March 2  1948 - The Search for Home

Ari Shavit, “Lydda, 1948”, The New Yorker, Oct 21, 2013. Online

Meir Shalev, A Pigeon and a Boy, New York: Schocken Books, 2007. Overseas Library H3 S528

March 7/9: The Emotional Price of War 

Yehuda Amichai, The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. Overseas Library H13 A516

March 14/16/21: Growing Up in the Shadow of War

Amos Oz, A Tale of Love and Darkness, Orlando: Harcourt, 2004. Overseas Library H3 O99   

 1st essay Due on March 21

March 26-30: Midterm Exam Week

April 4-18: Pesach Break

April 20: War and Gender

Dahlia Ravikovitch, The Window: New and Selected Poems, Riverdale-on-Hudson, New York: Sheep Meadow Press, 1989. Overseas Library H13 R256

Yona Wallach, Wild Light: Selected Poems of Yona Wallach, New York: Sheep Meadow Press, 1997. Overseas Library H13 W195


April 25/27: War and Judaism

Haim Sabato, Adjusting Sights, New Milford, Conn.: Toby Press, 2003. Overseas Library H3 S113

Yeshayahu Leibowitz, “The Territories” in Judaism, Human Values and the Jewish State, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1992, p. 223-228. Overseas Library E296.19 L525; ERESERVE 002025988

May 2: Yom Ha'Atzmaut (No class)

May 4:  Soldiers

Shani Boianjiu, "Means of Suppressing Demonstrations", The New Yorker, June 25, 2012. Online

May 9/11: War and Loss  

David Grossman, To the End of the Land, London: Jonathan Cape, 2010. Overseas Library H3 G878   

May 16/18: War and Arab Israeli Identity  

Sayed Qashu, Let It Be Morning, New York, NY.: Black Cat, 2006. Overseas Library H3 K19

(Final Essay Due)

May 23/25 (last class): The Settlements

Assaf Gavron, The Hilltop, New York: Scribner, 2014. Overseas Library H3 G283