In His Latest Novel, A.B. Yehoshua Toys with His Favorite Themes: Unrequited Lust and Palestinians

Now an octogenarian, A.B. Yehoshua can firmly lay claim to the status of Israel’s foremost serious novelist. His latest literary contribution, The Tunnel, appeared in English translation last summer. By following an aging engineer named Zvi Luria as he faces the rapid erosion of his cognitive faculties, the work demonstrates that Yehoshua hasn’t lost his own, as Robert Alter writes in his review:

The Tunnel . . . is something of a hodgepodge. Its different pieces may not fit together as tightly as one would like, but each piece has its own fascination. In any case, the main achievement of the book is to draw us into the process of mental deterioration through aging and the gnawing anxieties about decline triggered by that process, a subject rarely tackled by novelists. This may sound dire, but Yehoshua’s distinctive gift as a novelist is demonstrated yet again in his ability to turn it into an occasion for absurd comedy as well as for fear.

Amid this “hodgepodge” are what Alter identifies as familiar themes from the author’s oeuvre:

Sexual desire, which ranges from happy marital consummation to free-floating lust, plays an important role in Luria’s story. It is an impulse we conventionally associate with youth, but this septuagenarian has it in abundance, if ambivalently. [The] alluring naked woman transmogrified [through simile] into a mummy angrily confronts him years after the encounter and tells him, “you lusted after me.” When he responds that if it was lust, he “blocked” it, she asks, “Who asked you to block it?” The phenomenon of blocked lust is a familiar theme in Yehoshua, and it is especially important here in Luria’s relation to the beautiful daughter of the Palestinian family on the Negev hilltop.

The Tunnel of the title is meant to go through the hilltop, and thereby save this family from displacement. Yet even as Yehoshua takes up the worn-out theme of the Zionist guilty conscience he seems to toy with the possibility of an almost organic Jewish-Arab reconciliation. A light, perhaps, at the end of the tunnel.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: A B Yehoshua, Israeli literature, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security