Is perfect “Passing” possible? nationalism and gender in the Writings of Sayed Kashua

Dana Olmert*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The essay addresses a central aspect in the writings of the Israeli-Palestinian writer, scriptwriter and journalist, Sayed Kashua: the passion of his main characters, all Israeli-Arabs, to assimilate into Jewish culture and pass as Jews. It argues that narratives of “passing”, even when dealing with the crossing of racial, national or social lines, are necessarily tied to gender models. Literature and history are full of stories of “passing”, and all of them, including Kashua's, depict a craving to pass that shows an affinity to forceful binary heteronormative ideals of manhood and womanhood. The essay offers an analysis of the narrative of “passing” in Kashua's third novel, Second Person Singular (2010). It points to the successful “passing” of the protagonist, Amir, and examines the psycho-political implications of this success by comparing it with other protagonists in Kashua's earlier writing, who all failed to pass as Jewish-Israelis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-75
Number of pages16
JournalMiddle Eastern Literatures
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2018


  • Arabs
  • Hebrew literature
  • Israel
  • Jews
  • Sayed Kashua
  • masculinity
  • nationalism
  • passing


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