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The Fallacy of Analogy and the Risk of Moral Imperialism: Israeli Literature and the Palestinian Other

Department of Literature, Language and Arts, The Open University of Israel, Ra’anana 4353701, Israel
Humanities 2019, 8(3), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8030119
Received: 17 April 2019 / Revised: 26 June 2019 / Accepted: 30 June 2019 / Published: 2 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Literary Practice)
This article discusses the role of analogy within the ethics of reading. It examines how Israeli literature uses analogies when reflecting on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Many literary texts that depict the Israeli–Palestinian conflict draw analogies between the Israeli Jewish people and the Palestinians, between specific individuals on both sides, or between historical traumas. These analogies are designed to bridge gaps and encourage empathetic reading. This article challenges this role of analogy by arguing that analogies may in fact paint an erroneous picture of symmetrical relations, strengthen victimhood that denies responsibility, and can often lead to “empty empathy.” Analogies may also create a willfully deceptive understanding of the other, while actually maintaining a narcissistic superior stance. Based on philosophical notions put forward by Emmanuel Levinas, this article suggests a different path to ethical understanding in which the literary text, while still enabling analogy, uses other rhetorical devices to create relationships that suspend it and reveal its imposture. View Full-Text
Keywords: ethics and literature; analogy; empathy; Israeli literature; Israelis and Palestinians; Emmanuel Levinas ethics and literature; analogy; empathy; Israeli literature; Israelis and Palestinians; Emmanuel Levinas
MDPI and ACS Style

Mendelson-Maoz, A. The Fallacy of Analogy and the Risk of Moral Imperialism: Israeli Literature and the Palestinian Other. Humanities 2019, 8, 119.

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