Friday, August 31, 2007

David Grossman's The Yellow Wind

This summer I read David Grossman's The Yellow Wind, the Israeli novelist's journalistic exploration of Palestinian life under occupation, first published in 1988. I have been teaching his novel, The Smile of the Lamb, a Faulknerian multi-perspectival narrative of the spiritual costs of military occupation for both occupier and occupied. The Yellow Wind,in part, retraces the steps of Palestinian lawyer Raja Shehadeh, author of the important book, The Third Way, which articulates the nonviolent steadfastness of the "Samid"--one who steadfastly refuses to cede his culture, land, and dignity in the face of oppression. Both, it seems to me, should be required reading for understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict beyond the stories of suicide bombers and targeted assassinations. They constitute a third way, a commonality that we rarely hear about, for Israelis and Palestinians. But Grossman is not averse to provoke his national audience, by confronting himself and fellow Israelis with the sexual ecstasy of domination, discovered after the 1967 Six Day War:

Then, in 1967, the surging energy of our adolescent hormones was coupled with the intoxication gripping the entire country; the conquest, the confident penetration of the enemy's land, his complete surrender, breaking the taboo of the border, imperiously striding through the narrow streets of cities until now forbidden, and the smells, the primal view, and that same erotic tingle latent in every first meeting between conqueror and conquered--ah, what a sensuous explosion of all the pent-up desire that was in us! And on a grand scale! With the entire country! (211)

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