The Role of Arabic-Hebrew Translation in the Construction of the Arabic Other and Its Culture in the Eyes of the Jewish Reader throughout 1948- 1993

Principal Investigator:
Research Team:

Contact Person:
Prof. Dr. Islam Dayeh
+49 (0)30 838 4 58245

The way a source text is represented in its translation allows examination of the representation of a source text within a target culture as a selective action. This is mainly allowed due to translation's partialness and limitedness. A translator always faces a decision: which parts should be translated and which should be omitted. A translation can never completely reflect its own source; it shall continue to be partial and dependent on the translator's choices and interpretation (Venuti, 1995; Tymoczko, 1999). This partial representation of the source text by the target text makes the translation a metonymy, where the partial represents the whole (Tymoczko, 1999). This definition of translation emphasizes the political and ideological dimension within a translation act, and the translator's power to present certain metonymies of the source text while omitting others (ibid). In other words, the translator gains ownership, power and exclusiveness over the representation of the source culture within the target culture.

As translation is a tool allowing one to control an Other by way of representation, this study shall attempt to describe the way the Arabic culture and Arabic character are represented for the Jewish reader, according to the translation policy of translators, while examining the effect of the translator's views on translation policy. For this a close reading of target texts shall be made, and changes to the translation examined. This study will deal with translation from the Arabic language into Hebrew between the 1948s and 1993. The study will examine Arabic-Hebrew translation in three main time frames, a division that draws on historical and political events. The first period starts at the second half of 1948; in particular with the declaration of military rule over the Arabic population that has remained within the boundaries of the country, and until it was abolished in 1966. The discussion on this period will be divided into two main areas. The first will try to describe the changes that took place in the field of Arabic-Hebrew translation. What is the translation strategy taken by the translators? How is the Arabic culture represented and constructed in the consciousness of the Hebrew reader after the state was established? And what is the influence of the establishment on translation and the various strategies taken by translators? The identity of the translators and the ideologies that motivated them will also be discussed. The second area will discuss the changes that were made in translations during this period of time in comparison to the previous one. For this, I will try to describe the extent of influence of the Jewish society transforming from a minority standpoint to being a majority dominating the act of translation.

The second time period takes place between the 1967 Six Day War and the 1982 First Lebanon War. The effect of the 1967 war, during the first years following its termination, on Arabic-Hebrew translation, shall be examined in respect to quantity and strategy of translations. Furthermore, an attempt shall be made to study the changes that have occurred in the hegemonic view of Arabic minority in Israel and Arabic culture in general, following the abolishment of the military administration. Which translation strategies were used in relation to the representation of Arabic culture and the Arabic Other? The standpoint of the Arabic-Hebrew translation field towards hegemony shall be examined as well: has translation completely obeyed the consensus, or has it undermined the accepted convention? Has translation continued at that time to fulfil its role as a means of control over the Arabic culture through its representation to the Israeli reader?

The third time period begins in 1983 and ends with the signing of the Oslo Agreements in 1993. An examination of Arabic-Hebrew translations shows a significant increase in the number of translations in comparison to previous times. Through discussion of this time period, an attempt shall be made to understand the effect of the Lebanon War on the translation, and the changes that have occurred in translation strategy following the Lebanon War. How did the field of translation respond to this war? Was the increase in quantity of translations a result of the war? Has translation strategy changed during this period of time in comparison to previous ones? The effect of the penetration of multiculturalism theories into the Israeli academic and literary sphere over the Arabic-Hebrew translation field shall also be examined.