Arabian Nights, Hebrew Nights: On the Influence of Alf laylah wa-laylah on Jewish Culture in Palestine/Israel
This paper demonstrates how Jewish engagement with Arabic literature in Palestine/Israel provided an impetus for the Jewish cultural renaissance. By analyzing Yosef Yoel Rivlin’s Hebrew rendering of One Thousand and One Nights, it showcases how Arabic literature serviced Jewish nationalistic objectives by introducing the Arab other to a Jewish audience as the neighbor other and by enhancing a sense of attachment and belonging to the Oriental cultural world. Rivlin’s rendering of One Thousand and One Nights served as a prism through which his audience would view major issues that preoccupied the proponents of the emergent Jewish culture in Palestine/Israel. To reveal the nationalistic dimensions in Rivlin’s engagement with the Nights, this paper will approach the work as a window on discussion of the Jewish renaissance and return to the Orient, the Jewish self-conceptualization, the boundaries between the self and the other, the reconstruction of the Jewish past, and the enhancement of the modern Hebrew language and its literature.