Zionist Detection through Indirection in Jonathan Wilson’s A Palestine Affair


This paper explores Jonathan Wilson’s A Palestine Affair (2003), reflecting on the parallels between its underlying logic on one hand and the illogic of liberal Zionism and the state of Israel on the other hand. The paper revolves around the rationalizing, detective apparatus deployed in the novel both thematically and formally. More specifically, it dwells on the ways in which the form of the novel buttresses its ideological underpinnings, or rather its content. I argue that the form selected by the writer; that is, the detective novel, mirrors the Zionist quest for colonizing Palestine, especially in the context of Jerusalem. I further suggest that by means of detection, Jerusalem is familiarized in the text so much so that readers might think of it as a new London, with the “here” of Britain expanded and its cultural incorporation into the Zionist imaginary facilitated. That familiarity obfuscates and negates the presence of Palestinians in Jerusalem and Palestine at large, who are mostly portrayed as marginal, inconsequential, and criminal characters. At the same time, the novel gives rise to an alternative creative, detective vision that does not necessarily entail the use of typical methods of detection, a vision that mirrors the Zionist conquest, especially in its so-called liberal form. Employing what I call counter-detection, I aim to excavate the problematic aspects of both detection and creative detection (detection through indirection) and show their complicity with the conquest of Palestine through paying close attention to the writer’s Zionization of the artist on whose life the protagonist is modelled.


Mahmoud Zidan


Detective fiction, counter-detection, mapping, Palestine, Zionism, A Palestine Affair