The political poet
Almog Behar and Mustafa Can
Almog Behar is an Israeli poet and activist. With a family tree of German, Turkish and Arab Jews, his language identity is as much rooted in Arabic as in Hebrew, and as an author he makes use of both languages. But in the Israel of his childhood there was no space for the Arabic language or culture within the dominant Jewish culture. With his four books – two of poetry, one of short stories and one novel – Behar has gained a significant position on the Israeli literary scene. And despite resistance from the dominant Hebrew-speaking literary establishment, he has been awarded several prestigious awards, among them the Bernstein Prize for Poetry (2010). Both as an author and a commentator he has been an important corrective voice focusing on the strong bonds linking Eastern Jewish culture, the Arabic language and Islam. He argues that these bonds can serve to create mutual understanding and reduce the level of conflict.
Mustafa Can is a Swedish-Kurdish author who had great success with his debut, Tätt inntil dagarna (2006), which was about his mother and her struggle to gain a foothold in her new homeland. Now he meets Almog Behar for a conversation on cultural plurality and Israeli self-awareness.