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On Zionist Literature

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On Zionist Literature

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On Zionist Literature

by Ghassan Kanafani

Translated into English for the first time after its publication in 1967, Ghassan Kanafani's On Zionist Literature makes an incisive analysis of the literary fiction written in support of the Zionist colonization of Palestine.

Interweaving his literary criticism of works by George Eliot, Arthur Koestler, and many others with a historical materialist narrative, Kanafani identifies the political intent and ideology of Zionist literature, demonstrating how the myths used to justify the Zionist-imperialist domination of Palestine first emerged and were repeatedly propagated in popular literary works in order to generate support for Zionism and shape the Western public's understanding of it.

The new preface by Anni Kanafani and an introduction by Steven Salaita place On Zionist Literature in its broader historical context and make a compelling case for its ongoing significance more than five decades since its original publication, illustrating the extent to which "Kanafani was a searing and incisive critic, at once generous in his understanding of emotion and form and unsparing in his assessment of politics and myth."


"Searing, precise, and gloriously revealing, Kanafani lays bare the deceptive practices that give voice to the Zionist literary tradition's boorish and arrogant refrain. As Zionism haplessly shapeshifts into a pseudo-indigenous liberation movement, nearly five decades after its debut, On Zionist Literature is more necessary and timely than ever. This translation is a welcome event."

Mohammed El-Kurd is a writer from Jerusalem, occupied Palestine. RIFQA (2021), his debut collection of poetry, was published by Haymarket Books

"In this searing critique, Kanafani laid bare the ways in which language, fiction and film were employed in the service of Zionism to manipulate popular western imagination - paving the way for political Zionism, a chauvinist and supremacist ideology that aimed to colonize Palestine and usurp the natural rights and claims of indigenous Palestinians. Kanafani provides an audit of key literary pivots that mark the invention and evolution of a Zionist narrative that managed, through deceit, to not only embed itself in an ancient historic context to which is has no actual connection, but to also alienate the peoples who forged that very same history. Although written in 1967, this work is crucially relevant to contemporary examination of Zionist mythos underpinning Israel's ongoing incremental genocide and theft of Palestine. Finally translated into English, this work is a monumental contribution to anglophile Palestine studies and to critical postcolonial and neo-colonial theory."

Susan Abulhawa is a Palestinian-American political activist and the author of Mornings in Jenin (2006), The Blue Between Sky and Water (2015), and her latest novel Against the Loveless World (2019) won the Palestine Book Award

"This superbly translated book is a splendid example of the Palestinian political commitment to know one's enemy. If Ghassan Kanafani was one of the earliest Palestinian novelists to humanize the Israeli Jewish enemy as he did with several characters in his 1969 novella Returning to Haifa, in this 1967 study of Zionist literature, he was also one of the first literary critics in the Arab World to examine and analyze Zionist literature, whose output he studies since the early 19th century as an ideological formation and preparation of the ground for the settler-colonial project that the Zionist movement pioneered in Palestine at the end of the century. Brilliantly argued and comprehensive in its coverage, the book remains most relevant to understanding Zionist and western representations of Palestine and the Palestinians historically and at present. Its searing insights are as accurate and revealing today as they were when it was published in 1967. This is a Palestinian classic!"

Joseph Massad is professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University, New York. His books include Colonial Effects (2001), The Persistence of the Palestinian Question (2006), and Islam in Liberalism (2015)

About the Author

Ghassan Kanafani is regarded as one of the most well-known Arab writers and journalists of the past century. Born in Palestine in 1936, Kanafani and his family were forced to flee his homeland during the Nakba - after which he lived and worked in Damascus, Kuwait and finally, from 1960, Beirut. Kanafani was martyred on July 8th, 1972, along with his niece Lamees, in a car bomb planted by Israeli agents. His writings have inspired entire generations of Palestinians and those in solidarity with their cause.

 Publisher : Ebb Books (2022)

Language : English

Paperback : 188 pages

ISBN-13 : 978-1739985233


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