Arabic literature has been translated into Hebrew by Jews, Arabs and Druze for over a century. However, Hebrew target culture which has always welcomed translations from a variety of foreign languages that enriched it and provided models for its development has assigned Arabic literature a minor position.
This is due mainly to political circumstances - the ongoing conflict between Jews and Arabs, Israel and several Arab countries, is only partially resolved through peace contracts. Arabs and their culture have been perceived by Western-oriented Israeli culture as either arch-enemies or as abstract figures representing attractive oriental images and even the Biblical forefathers of the Jewish people.
However, since the advent of Zionism there have also been individuals and groups who sought to reconcile Jews and Arabs and who mastered Arabic language and culture and loved them dearly. Translations of Arabic literature into Hebrew have been made, disseminated and used in an attempt to bring about Jewish-Arab mutual understanding and coexistence and even in the naive belief they can actually help bring about peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours.
The present lecture will survey the various ideologies behind these translations as expressed by the translators themselves in prefaces and interviews and demonstrate how they were actually used to such different public ends as justifying the return of the Jewish people to its historical homeland, reconciling the Jewish-Arab conflict, contributing to peace education, celebration of the peace contract between Israel and Egypt and protest against the Lebanon war (1982).