Between Babylon and Zion: The Conception of Home in Eli Amir's The Dove Flyer and Scapegoat Open Access

Faber, Sara Ruth (2013)

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In the early 1950s, shortly after the creation of the State of Israel, nearly the entire Iraqi Jewish community emigrated from Iraq to Israel. There they were forced to assimilate to the Israeli identity and suppress their original Mizrahi identity. As a teenager, the novelist Eli Amir was a part of this immigration. His first two novels, The Dove Flyer (1992) and Scapegoat (1984), focus on the story of the emigration from Iraq (The Dove Flyer) and subsequent assimilation into Israeli society (Scapegoat). Each narrative is located in a different place--The Dove Flyer primarily in Baghdad, and Scapegoat in Israel--and each negates the view of that place as home. Because the Iraqi Jews are marginalized as a minority in both places, neither place is a true home to the novels' protagonists. The only home left to them is one that is imagined.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Eli Amir and the Youth Aliyah 3

Comparative Scholarship 7

PART ONE: The Historical and Sociological Contextualization of The Dove Flyer and Scapegoat

Chapter 1. The History of Iraqi Jewry 13

The Biblical Period 13

The Formation of the Babylonian Talmud 16

The Islamic Arab Period 17

The Ottoman Period 19

The British Mandate Period 22

The Kingdom of Iraq 24

The Mass Emigration of Iraqi Jewry 28

Chapter 2. Identity Politics of the Mizrahim in Israel 32

The Rise of the Zionist Movement 32

The Myth of the Sabra 34

The Israeli Melting Pot and Its Implications for Mizrahi Immigrants 36

The Discriminatory Attitude towards the Mizrahim 40

The Reclamation of the Mizrahi Identity 43

PART TWO: Literary Analyses

Chapter 3. The Dialectical Conception of Home in The Dove Flyer 47

The Multiperspectival Conception of Home in the Iraqi Jewish Community 50

Um Kabi: The Religious Perspective 52

Salim Effendi: The Communist Perspective 55

Abu Kabi and Hizkel: The Zionist Perspective 58

Kabi's Dialectical Conception of Home 62

Transitioning from Baghdad to the Ma'abarot: The End of Iraqi Jewry 72

Chapter 4. The Dual Conflicts of Identity and Home in Scapegoat 76

The Other Iraqis 79

The Kibbutzniks 87

Nuri's Own Complicated Process of Assimilation 93

Nuri's Confused Identity and Ambiguous Conception of Home 98

Conclusion: The Imaginary Space of Home 103

Works Cited 109

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