The place could not bear me: Expulsion and exile in Khirbet Khizeh

Yonatan Sagiv*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


When Khirbet Khizeh by S. Yizhar was published in 1949, the story was criticized for its lack of historical consciousness. At the time, the text's failure to acknowledge the expulsion of Palestinians as a necessity gave rise to widespread objections. Ironically enough, the same story has been criticized in recent Israeli post-colonial writings as effacing the Other through exclusion, as overt identification, or as imagining the Other only in terms of the national subject. Through close reading, this essay re-examines the relation between expulsion and exile in Khirbet Khizeh, thus reassessing the relation between self and Other. Informed by the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, the essay explores the Palestinian expulsion as triggering another exile, the self-exile of Jewish settlers. Anticipating Levinas, Yizhar portrays his narrator's ethical responsibility through the metaphor of listening to an Other's cry. It is the soldiers' deafness and the narrator's failure to respond that turn the expulsion into an unheard cry inducing trauma for both nations, trauma which will erupt again in violent repetition. The tragedy of this ending can be mitigated by tracing Yizhar's ethical economy, calculating human voices in the place of territories.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)221-234
Number of pages14
JournalHebrew Studies
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'The place could not bear me: Expulsion and exile in Khirbet Khizeh'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this