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Translation project offers Israelis look into Palestinian literature

Translation into Hebrew of Palestinian and Arab novels and short stories opens a literary window for Israeli readers.
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In the epilogue to the anthology "Amputated Tongue," a compilation of Palestinian short stories translated into Hebrew, Professor Yehouda Shenhav-Shahrabani, a sociologist and critical theorist, explains why the project he heads is important. Only 0.4% of Israeli Jews under the age of 70 can read the stories in the original Arabic language, he says. He also points to the fact that according to Israel’s National Library, less than 1% of all literature translated into Hebrew was written in Arabic, and 90% of the translators were Jews, with the culture gap clearly evident in the outcome.

Shenhav-Shahrabani is one of the founders of the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow Coalition, a socio-cultural movement established by Israelis of Middle Eastern origins. He is the editor-in-chief of the Maktoob Group, which publishes translations into Hebrew of books written in Arabic. "Amputated Tongue" is the most recent one published. The Maktoob Group includes some 100 translators who translate from Arabic to Hebrew; they meet regularly in order to discuss issues of language and translation.

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