In an essay on the new Israeli story, Baruch Kurzweil argues that since the early 1960s, Israeli fiction has demonstrated an increasing obsession with the subject of Eros. He refers to Eros not in its Freudian sense of the life instinct but in the sense of "the temptations of woman," and as such he uses it as a term of opprobrium: "But this special conspicuousness of Eros, which is so characteristic of so many Israeli stories, testifies to the lack of a real goal in life. This mania for Eros in the Hebrew story is not a sign of effervescent vitality, but of something sick. It signifies an escape from the emptiness of life." 1 Kurzweil goes on to interpret the proliferation of the stories about the sexual "temptations of woman" not only as a manifestation of existential nausea, but also as an expression of self-hatred, an attempt to flee from Jewish identity, a suicidal pursuit of false Western idols. Although he calls attention to an important development in what came to be known as the literature of the New Wave (which emerged in the late 1950s and early 1960s in reaction to the confined realism and socialist Zionist ideology of their predecessors), Kurzweil ignores the fact that Eros (in his sense) is often linked to Thanatos, the human desire to die. By failing to note the punitive element in the association in the literature of the 1960s and 1970s of "the temptations of woman" with the motif of death, Kurzweil implicitly endorses the androcentric vision which couples woman's sexuality with destruction. It is this tendency in the new Israeli story, to couple woman with destruction, that I would like to examine here.
The thematic relationship between heterosexual love and national war has pervaded Israeli fiction since its inception in the late 1940s. Yet the presentation of this relationship has undergone radical structural transformations from its bipolar appearance in the works of S. Yizhar and Moshe Shamir to its interdependent presentation in the works of Yitzhak Ben Ner, Ya'akov Buchan, and David
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Publication information: Book title: Arms and the Woman:War, Gender, and Literary Representation. Contributors: Helen M. Cooper - Editor, Adrienne Auslander Munich - Editor, Susan Merrill Squier - Editor. Publisher: University of North Carolina Press. Place of publication: Chapel Hill, NC. Publication year: 1989. Page number: 268.