Cite: Zakai, Difference, Suffrage and the Autobiography of the New Hebrew Woman

Zakai, Orian. “Entering the Records: Difference, Suffrage and the Autobiography of the New Hebrew Woman.” Nashim 22 (2011): 136-161.





In this paper I offer a close reading of the 1956 autobiography of the Zionist suffragist Sara Azaryahu, in an attempt to illuminate some of the tensions that complicate Zionist women’s position within the network of gender, ethnic and national power-relations produced by Zionism. Highlighting the sharp East-West dichotomies sustaining Azaryahu’s emancipatory narrative, and tracing the text’s various gestures of erasure and exclusion, I show how discourses of racial, ethnic and national difference inform and shape the Zionist feminist self. At the same time, I claim that the text produces an analogy between the exclusion of Palestinian and Mizraḥi women from Zionist feminist emancipatory projects and the self-erasure of "everything feminine" and "everything Jewish" that accompanies Azaryahu’s self-constitution both as an autobiographer and as a democratic subject. In this sense, I argue, the text contains a potential subversion of the clear-cut East-West dichotomy that, on the surface, it strives to maintain.

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