destructive sexual relations serve as metaphors for what Israeli writers perceive as Israel's ideological disorientation and social disintegration. As Oren points out, "The writers of the new generation dramatize an extreme scene that has not yet been established in Israeli reality, and [they] ask us to accept it as an authentic testimony to the reality of our lives."31 Identified with the family (the fundamental unit of society), woman came to signify the stultifying and corrupt society from which the Israeli male hero constantly flees, often right into the arms of war. Thus the romanticized nurturant mother/lover of the Palmah generation--often the symbol of civilian life--became the vampiric bitch in the literature of the 1960s and 1970s, just as the idealistic, victorious, and admirable male fighter turned into a pathetic victim. 32 In so far as private relations serve as allegorical constructs signifying a national reality, the vampiric woman reflects not only the exasperated society, but also the devouring country with its insatiable demand for sacrifices, with its endless hunger for male corpses. The land of Israel is often symbolically portrayed as a female principle, a conception with deep biblical roots. 33 Just as in Hebrew-Palestinian utopian literature, this country is often depicted as a loving mother/wife waiting for her son/lover to return to her; in contemporary Israeli literature, it appears as a deathly woman exacting endless sacrifices from her male lover.
Baruch Kurzweil was right in observing the increasing prevalence of what he calls Eros in Israeli literature, but his interpretation of this development can only be accepted if we consider its full range. It is not merely the increasing preponderance of women (especially in the capacity of sexual agents) that conveys a sense of disorientation and existential nausea. It is rather the presentation of women as symbolic of death that may perhaps signal an expression of despair, disorientation, and demoralization in Israeli fiction. It is the pervasive combination of Eros with Thanatos that may convey what Kurzweil sees as the flight from affirming values to self-hatred and self-destruction.
I would like to thank the editors of this volume and John Bormanis for their editorial assistance in the preparation of this article, which also appeared (in a modified version) in Modern Judaism 6 ( 1986): 189-96. See also Fuchs, Israeli Mythogynies.