Reading: Great Conversations- Israeli Cinema: East/West and the Politics of Representation by Ella Shohat

Tue, January 18, 2011 7:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

(View all readings »)

Introduced and Discussed by Joseph Massad

When the Hebrew edition of this groundbreaking book came out, it provoked a stormy public debate. The new edition of Israeli Cinema with a substantial new postscript that reflects on the book’s initial reception and points toexciting new trends in the cinematic representation of Israel and Palestine. Ella Shohat explores the cinema as a productive site of national culture, dating back to the early Zionist films about turn-of-the-century Palestine. She offers a deconstructionist reading of Zionism, viewing the cinema as itself participating in the "invention" of the nation. Unthinking the Eurocentric imaginary of "East versus West," Shohat highlights the paradoxes of an anomalous national/colonial project through a number of salient issues, including the Sabra figure as a negation of the "Diaspora Jew," the iconography of the land of Israel as a denial of Palestine, and the narrative role of "the good Arab." The new postscript examines the emergence of a richly multiperspectival cinematic space that transcends earlier dichotomies through a palimpsestic and cross-border approach to Israel / Palestine.

Ella Shohat is Professor of Cultural Studies at New York University. Her books include Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices, Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age, and with Robert Stam Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media and Flagging Patriotism: Crises of Narcissism and Anti-Americanism.

Joseph A. Massad is associate professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University. He is the author of Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan; The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism and the Palestinians and Desiring Arabs.

'''Israeli Cinema is a tour-de-force. Not only is it theoretically sophisticated, it is also deeply rooted in the changing politics and perceptions of the Israeli predicament as they bear upon Israeli films."--Edward Said

"A new edition of Israeli Cinema with a substantial postcript that reflects on the book's initial reception and points to exciting current trends in the cinematic representation of Israel and Palestine." —Sight and Sound

Great Conversation is series that invites thinkers to choose people from other disciplines who are of intellectual and inspirational interest to them in an attempt to enlarge the scope of our understanding of the production of knowledge. The series is meant to offer a paradigm of comparative experiences, where other forms of knowledge can better enrich consciousness of the self.

Last updated: 2011-04-18 20:35:17

Alwan for the Arts

16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor
(between Broad St. and Broadway)
New York, NY 10004
(646) 732-3261

Alwan Auction 2016

Join Our Mailing List:



Classes are currently being scheduled. Please check back soon for updates.



There are currently no upcoming events.


16 Beaver Street
4th Floor
New York, NY 10004
(646) 732 3261
Email Us

Alwan for the Arts is accessible to people with disabilities. Please call 646 732 3261 in advance, or, buzz at the door to arrange a ramp.

© 2020 Alwan for the Arts

Hosting donated by:, the Arabic Encyclopedia