Deconstructing / reconstructing stereotypes in American and Palestinian Fiction

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    For decades, the drastic ramifications of the conflict in Palestine not only trigger hostilities but also undermine the possibility of initiating mutual dialogue between the Israelis and the Palestinians. This paper aims to navigate the literary representation of the Jews and Palestinians in political Palestinian and American fiction in order to illuminate controversial issues integral to the tragic history of the two peoples. The paper argues that whereas the Palestinian writer, G. Kanafani, deconstructs hostile Jewish stereotypes in his famous novel, Returning to Haifa, the American novelist, Philip Roth, in The Counterlife, de-centralizes the Palestinians and the Oriental Jews by conflating them with a status of cultural inferiority and barbarism. By introducing counter-narratives about the history of the Palestinian / Israeli conflict, Kanafani aims to proliferate sympathetic literary images of the Jews by incorporating the Jewish history of Diaspora and genocide. Kanafani not only engages Palestinian displacement but also explores the holocaust motif disseminating issues of common interest for the two sides of the conflict. In an attempt to build bridges between the Israelis and Palestinians, Kanafani demolishes negative Jewish constructs entrenched in ideologically oriented Arabic literature foreshadowing its political agenda. Nevertheless, Roth's tendency to offer a neutral view of the Middle East conflict, in The Counterlife, is thwarted by a hegemonic master-narrative originating in Orientalism and Western imperialism which marginalizes the role of the Palestinians in the fictional text.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)21-37
    Number of pages17
    JournalRupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2016


    • Conflict
    • Holocaust
    • Israelis
    • Jews
    • Master-narrative.
    • Memory
    • Orientalism
    • Palestinians
    • Reconciliation
    • Resistance
    • Stereotypes
    • War
    • Zionism

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Arts and Humanities


    Dive into the research topics of 'Deconstructing / reconstructing stereotypes in American and Palestinian Fiction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this