Reading for Peace is a critical approach to literature and film that explores the way texts and films produced in times of war and conflict may suggest constructive, peace-building ways to respond to the challenge of violence. Such texts thematize peace-building strategies and/or embody them in narrative/poetic technique to fashion “a rhetoric of peace.” These peace-building strategies include: an insistence on the importance of empathy and on seeing and humanizing the Other; a focus on storytelling and memory as a means of healing trauma; a rejection of revenge and the cycle of vengeance; and an attempt to negotiate a balance between remembering history and achieving forgiveness. This paper explores peace building in literature from Israel and Palestine, specifically in two texts, one by David Grossman and one by Elias Khoury. The paper identifies correspondences in motif, imagery and theme suggesting the power of empathy and forgiveness, the need to reject revenge, and the effort to see the Other as human. In addition, and more ambiguously, the texts share a preoccupation with history and storytelling, memory and trauma, victimhood and grievance, and both contain enactments of confrontation with the Other as an uncanny double. In effect, the literature of these two cultures constitutes a kind of Moebius strip of themes related to peace constituting a potential dialogue.
|Keywords:||Literature, Film, Peace, War, Empathy, History, Forgiveness, Trauma, Revenge|
Professor of English, Department of English, Assumption College, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA