New Article: Hager & Saba, Testimonies of Jewish-Arab Hostility in the Israeli Academia

Hager, Tamar, and Tufaha Saba. “The Language of Racism. Textual Testimonies of Jewish-Arab Hostility in the Israeli Academia.” Ricerche di Pedagogia e Didattica – Journal of Theories and Research in Education 10.1 (2015): 109-29.

 
URL: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Tamar_Hager/publication/273792698_The_language_of_racism._Textual_testimonies_of_Jewish-Arab_hostility_in_the_Israeli_Ac-ademia/links/550dc0980cf2128741674946.pdf (PDF)
 
Abstract

The persistent Jewish Arab conflict is present in every aspect of life in Israeli society and its echoes penetrate the everyday reality of higher educational institutions. Feelings of mutual hostility among Arab and Jewish students, faculty and administration are common experiences on Israeli campuses. This article analyzes two textual expressions of this mutual resentment which were circulated in 2011 in Tel Hai College, Israel. One of the texts was produced by Muslim Arab student association and the other by a Zionist Jewish organization. Both groups are present on every campus in Israel. Despite the significant difference of the political location occupied by each organization in the Israeli power structure, we argue that these texts share similar attitudes to the conflict and parallel operational strategies. The paper demonstrates the attempts by these texts to encourage the mutual hostility between Jews and Arabs by employing racist and violent discourse. The article tries to explain the silence of the college administration and faculty in the face of these racist acts, subsequently outlining a vision of a responsible academia which will banish any acts of racism.

 

 

 

New Book: Koensler, Israeli-Palestinian Activism

Koensler, Alexander. Israeli-Palestinian Activism. Shifting Paradigms. Farnham, UK, and Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2015.

 

Koensler

When do words and actions empower? When do they betray? Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this volume tracks the repercussions of advocacy activism against house demolitions in ‘unrecognised’ Arab-Bedouin villages in Israel’s southern ‘internal frontier’. It highlights the repercussions of activism for victims, fund-raisers and activists. The ethnographic episodes show how humanitarian aid intervention and indigenous identity politics can turn into a double-edged sword. Ironically, institutional lobbying for coexistence and its interpretative categories can sometimes perpetuate different forms of subjugation. The volume also shows how, beyond the institutional lobbying, novel figures of activism emerge: informal networks create non-sectarian, cross-cutting countercultures and rethink human-environment relationships. These experimental political subjects redefine the categories of the conflict and elude the logic of zero-sum games; they point towards a shifting paradigm in current ethnopolitics.

 

Koensler outlines an ethnographic approach for the study of social movements that follows multiple relations around mobilisations rather than studying activism in itself. This perspective thus becomes relevant for scholars and activists engaged with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and those interested in global rights discourses.

 

Table of Contents

List of Figures
Acknowledgements
Note on Transliteration
Introduction

  • PART I: THE SOCIAL LIFE OF CLAIMS
  • 1. Ethnography and social movement studies
  • 2. The life of Israeli-Palestinian claims
  • PART II: CONTRADICTIONS
  • 3.The ‘ghost village’
  • 4. Illusions
  • 5. Frictions and connections
  • PART III: INNOVATIONS
  • 6. Politics of polyphony?
  • 7. Global ecosophies
  • Conclusion

Appendix: Conceptual Tour
Bibliography
Index

 

ALEXANDER KOENSLER is Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice, Queen’s University Belfast, UK.

 

New Article: Monterescu & Schickler, Jews, Palestinians and the Alternative Cultural Scene in Tel Aviv-Jaffa

Monterescu, Daniel, and Miriam Schickler. “Creative Marginality. Jews, Palestinians and the Alternative Cultural Scene in Tel Aviv-Jaffa.” Ethnologie française 45.2 (2015): 293-308.

 

URL: http://www.cairn-int.info/article-E_ETHN_152_0293–creative-marginality-jews.htm    [click here for PDF]

 

Abstract

Traditionally viewed as the “back yard” of Israel’s urban landscape, ethnically mixed towns have been predominantly studied in light of the marginality paradigm, which neglects to recognize these spaces as social places, namely as life worlds in and of themselves. Drawing on archival and ethnographic fieldwork in Jaffa, we propose a relational anthropological approach to the problématique of marginality and pluralism in Jewish-Arab cities. These are seen not as unidimensional sites of hyper-segregation but rather as spaces of creative marginality, which paradoxically challenge the nationalist spatial hegemony (both Palestinian and Zionist). Examining the everyday enactment of alterity we show how marginality and exclusion become precisely the driving force behind one of Israel’s most creative back stages.

 

Published in English and French, with abstracts in English, French, German, Spanish, Hebrew, and Arabic.

 

Thesis: Katan, Improving Arab-Jewish Relations in Israel Through Workforce Integration

Katan, Dalia. Building a Shared Israeli Society: Improving Arab-Jewish Relations in Israel Through Workforce Integration, Senior Thesis. Princeton: Princeton University, 2015.

 

Advisor: Dancygier, Rafaela

 

URL: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01sq87bw961

Abstract
Integration is one of Israel’s greatest challenges, as Israeli Arabs, comprising 20 percent of the Israeli population, are still a segregated minority. After an incredibly violent summer for both Israelis and Palestinians, it has become more important than ever to find a solution to this issue that involves building a shared Israeli society. I argue that because the workforce is the last place where segregated societies can come together, it presents a critical opportunity to integrate. Driven by intergroup contact theory, this thesis demonstrates that (1) the workplace environment is optimal for positive intergroup contact, (2) integration in the workplace produces more positive outgroup opinions and (3) positive outgroup opinions can could withstand pressure from ethnic conflict. This is supported by 47 interviews and surveys, and guided by preexisting frameworks on intergroup contact. With this research, I hope to contribute to the literature on intergroup contact, which has yet to explore workforce integration in Israel and link it to intergroup contact theory. The findings of this thesis will be beneficial for private and public sectors to consider in order to maximize the benefits of intergroup contact and work toward a shared society.

New Article: Ross and Razon, Shifting Identity Markers in Palestine/Israel

Ross, Karen, and Na’amah Razon. “Interrogating Boundaries and Acknowledging Fluidity: Shifting Identity Markers in Palestine/Israel.” Journal of Borderlands Studies 30.2 (2015): 247-62.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08865655.2015.1046470

 

Abstract

In this article we problematize the taken-for-granted nature of the dichotomy between Palestinian and Israeli, or Arab and Jew by illustrating how these identity categories are referenced and navigated by Israelis and Palestinians (Arabs and Jews) in their daily life. Using examples from our observations and conversations with individuals in the region, we argue that while the categories of Jewish/Arab and Israel/Palestine serve as dichotomous organizing frameworks, the lived experiences of individuals reveal complexity, variability, and tensions in how these categories are navigated, negotiated, and inhabited. Rather than clear and natural categories, by attending to the specificity of how these categories are discussed and used in everyday life we highlight a middle ground questioning the firmness of this assumed dichotomy. We suggest that attending to the contingent and varied nature of this dichotomy can serve as a starting point to create more inclusive means to discuss identity in the region.

 

 

New Book: Monterescu, Jaffa Shared and Shattered

Monterescu, Daniel. Jaffa Shared and Shattered. Contrived Coexistence in Israel/Palestine. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015.

9780253016775

 

Binational cities play a pivotal role in situations of long-term conflict, and few places have been more marked by the tension between intimate proximity and visceral hostility than Jaffa, one of the “mixed towns” of Israel/Palestine. In this nuanced ethnographic and historical study, Daniel Monterescu argues that such places challenge our assumptions about cities and nationalism, calling into question the Israeli state’s policy of maintaining homogeneous, segregated, and ethnically stable spaces. Analyzing everyday interactions, life stories, and histories of violence, he reveals the politics of gentrification and the circumstantial coalitions that define the city. Drawing on key theorists in anthropology, sociology, urban studies, and political science, he outlines a new relational theory of sociality and spatiality.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction: Contrived Coexistence: Relational Histories of Urban Mix in Israel/PalestinePart I. Beyond Methodological Nationalism: Communal Formations and Ambivalent Belonging
    1. Spatial Relationality: Theorizing Space and Sociality in Jewish-Arab “Mixed Towns”
    2. The Bridled “Bride of Palestine”: Urban Orientalism and the Zionist Quest for Place
    3. The “Mother of the Stranger”: Palestinian Presence and the Ambivalence of SumudPart II. Sharing Place or Consuming Space: The Neoliberal City
    4. Inner Space and High Ceilings: Agents and Ideologies of Ethnogentrification
    5. To Buy or Not to Be: Trespassing the Gated CommunityPart III. Being and Belonging in the Binational City: A Phenomenology of the Urban
    6. Escaping the Mythscape: Tales of Intimacy and Violence
    7. Situational Radicalism and Creative Marginality: The “Arab Spring” and Jaffa’s Counterculture

    Conclusion: The City of the Forking Paths: Imagining the Futures of Binational Urbanism

    Notes
    References
    Index

Daniel Monterescu is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Central European University. He is author (with Haim Hazan) of A Town at Sundown: Aging Nationalism in Jaffa and editor (with Dan Rabinowitz) of Mixed Towns, Trapped Communities: Historical Narratives, Spatial Dynamics, Gender Relations and Cultural Encounters in Palestinian-Israeli Towns.

New Article: Walther et al, Computer-Mediated Communication and the Reduction of Prejudice

Walther, Joseph B., Elaine Hoter, Asmaa Ganayem, and Miri Shonfeld. “Computer-Mediated Communication and the Reduction of Prejudice: A Controlled Longitudinal Field Experiment among Jews and Arabs in Israel.” Computers in Human Behavior 52 (2015): 550-558.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.08.004

 

Abstract
The promise of computer-mediated communication (CMC) to reduce intergroup prejudice has generated mixed results. Theories of CMC yield alternative and mutually exclusive explanations about mechanisms by which CMC fosters relationships online with potential to ameliorate prejudice. This research tests contact-hypothesis predictions and two CMC theories on multicultural, virtual groups who communicated during a yearlong online course focusing on educational technology. Groups included students from the three major Israeli education sectors—religious Jews, secular Jews, and Muslims—who completed pretest and posttest prejudice measures. Two sets of control subjects who did not participate in virtual groups provided comparative data. An interaction of the virtual groups experience × religious/cultural membership affected prejudice toward different religious/cultural target groups, by reducing prejudice toward the respective outgroups for whom the greatest initial enmity existed. Comparisons of virtual group participants to control subjects further support the influence of the online experience. Correlations between prejudice with group identification and with interpersonal measures differentiate which theoretical processes pertained.

 
 
 
 

New Article: Mendel, ‘Practical’ Arabic in the Hebrew Reali School in Haifa, 1913-48

Mendel, Yonatan. “From German Philology to Local Usability: The Emergence of ‘Practical’ Arabic in the Hebrew Reali School in Haifa – 1913–48.” Middle Eastern Studies (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00263206.2015.1061508

 
Abstract
This article examines the pedagogical shifts in the study of Arabic at the Hebrew Reali School in Haifa, the leading school for Arabic studies in the Jewish education system. Analyzing the moulding of Arabic studies in the crucial years of educational institutionalization (1913–48), it demonstrates an inevitable tension with regard to Arabic studies: between the German philological approach and the ‘practical’ approach. In light of this tension, it shows the gradual emergence of a new ‘practical’ approach in the Jewish education system in Palestine, which was not only the result of a clash between different pedagogical methods, but was propelled by another, powerful, clash: that of the heated political conflict in Palestine. Using primary sources from seven different archives, in Israel, Britain and Germany, this article reveals that the shift towards practicality was motivated by political developments and ideological shifts as much as by pedagogical considerations, and therefore has had significant ramifications for the emerging field of Arabic studies in Jewish schools in Palestine/Israel.

 

 

Photo essay: Levac, Eye on Israel

Levac, Alex. “Eye on Israel.” Jewish Quarterly 62.2 (2015): 18-23.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0449010X.2015.1051695

 

Excerpt

Photography is supposed to be an international language. But is it really so? My photography is extremely culture-related. Since it’s concerned with human situations, mostly, it could be misunderstood, even meaningless, to people outside Israel. Understanding culture is easier for a native.
I photograph in Israel, for the Israeli viewer. It is not that I am aware of it all the time – but it is always there, in the back of my mind. It’s the way I see. I’m directing the sharpness and irony at us, Israelis.

 
 
 
 

New Article: Dorchin, Ethnography of Jewish and Arab Rap in Israel

Dorchin, Uri. “Flowing Beyond Sectarian Ethno-politics: Ethnography of Jewish and Arab Rap in Israel.” Ethnopolitics (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17449057.2015.1041752

 

Abstract

This article addresses the meaning of political music by drawing on the relationships between Jewish and Arab rappers in Israel. However, this article aims to go beyond the concerns of resistance and hegemony that are central to the power-relations paradigm typical of studies of both Israeli society and rap. Instead, it emphasizes how cross references made by rappers transgress social and political oppositions. Based on data gathered from various venues and interviews with performers in the local scene, the author seeks to explain why political music, even in its most scathing guise, should never be taken for a mere ‘musical politics’.

New Article: Bashir, On Citizenship Education: A Levantine Approach and Reimagining Israel/Palestine

Bashir, Bashir. “On Citizenship and Citizenship Education: A Levantine Approach and Reimagining Israel/Palestine.” (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13621025.2015.1007033

 

Abstract

This article argues in favor of a Levantine approach to citizenship and citizenship education. A Levantine approach calls for some sort of Mediterranean regionalism, which accommodates and promotes overlapping and shared sovereignties and jurisdiction, multiple loyalties, and regional integration. It transcends the paradigmatic statist model of citizenship by recasting the relationship between territoriality, national identity, sovereignty, and citizenship in complex, multilayered and disaggregated constellations. As the case of Israel/Palestine demonstrates, this new approach goes beyond multicultural accommodation and territorial partition. It proposes, among other things, extending the political and territorial boundaries of citizenship to take all the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River as one unit of analysis belonging to a larger region.

New Article: Steinberg and Zamir, Evaluation of a Joint Israeli–Palestinian Project

Steinberg, Shoshana and Judith Zamir. “Evaluation of a Joint Israeli–Palestinian Project.” New Directions for Evaluation 146 (2015): 119-27.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ev.20125

 

Abstract

This article presents three examples of evaluation intervention demonstrating the ongoing significance of a politically responsive approach. The article’s main goal is to shed light on the evaluator’s role, through the work of a mixed team of Israeli and Palestinian teachers, within a conflict, in an uncomfortable zone context. Israeli and Palestinian teachers participated in a project aimed at producing a history textbook including the narratives of each group, each of whom had its own legitimate objectives. This article intends to highlight the significant contribution of the evaluator to the entire process through the use of three different evaluation tools.

New Article: Dolbee and Hazkani, Imperial Citizenship in Palestine

Dolbee, Samuel and Shay Hazkani. “‘Impossible is not Ottoman’: Menashe Meirovitch, ‘Isa al-‘Isa, and Imperial Citizenship in Palestine.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 47.2 (2015): 241-62.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0020743815000033

 

Abstract

This article explores a covert partnership between a prominent Zionist agronomist, Menashe Meirovitch, and the Christian Arab editor of the newspaper Filastin, ʿIsa al-ʿIsa, a founding father of Palestinian nationalism. Under the literary guise of an Arab Muslim peasant called Abu Ibrahim, the two men produced a series of Arabic-language columns in 1911–12 that exhibited imperial citizenship par excellence, demanding political and agrarian reforms in Palestine in the name of strengthening the Ottoman Empire. The article explores their short-lived political alliance to interrogate historiographical uses of the press as a source for social history. Moreover, it challenges the portrayal of cooperation between Jews and Arabs as “collaboration” in its pejorative sense. Far from a simple story of betrayal or corruption, the partnership between the two men demonstrates how a shared commitment to Ottoman modernism brought them together more than nationalism, language, or religion pulled them apart.

 

New Article: Beinin, Regrouping in the Absence of a Two-State Solution

Beinin, Joel. “Coexistence, Equality, and Universal Principles in Israel/Palestine: Regrouping in the Absence of a Two-State Solution.” Tikkun 30.2 (2015): 9-15.

 

URL: https://muse.jhu.edu/journals/tikkun/v030/30.2.beinin.html

 

Excerpt

The inordinate focus on a Palestinian state has diverted attention from the fate of the Palestinian people. The conditions of many Palestinians — citizens of Israel, inhabitants of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, and refugees in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq — have deteriorated dramatically since 2000. Evictions of Palestinians from the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan by messianic religious-nationalist settlers, the expansion of settlements to surround East Jerusalem and prevent its return to Palestinian rule, home demolitions and disruption of normal economic and academic life throughout the West Bank, the siege (tighter or looser as Israel chooses) imposed on the population of the Gaza Strip, attacks on refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria, insecure and dysfunctional conditions throughout Iraq — all these have taken a toll on Palestinians. The most urgent task is to focus on the present and future conditions of actual Palestinians, not to speculate on the nature of a state or states that have little chance of coming into existence anytime soon.

This means exposing and resisting Israeli efforts to diminish the Palestinian presence through various mechanisms of expulsion. It means dismantling the separation barrier and other infrastructures that separate Palestinian communities, including the massive checkpoints at Qalandiya and Bethlehem in the West Bank that are effectively international frontier posts, and opposing the continuing confiscation of lands for new settlements and the violent campaign of settler fanatics like the “Hilltop Youth” to terrorize Palestinian farmers and shepherds. It means demanding an end to Israeli occupation of all the lands conquered in 1967. It means advocating the full equality, including individual and collective rights, of the Palestinian citizens of Israel. Perhaps most painfully for some, but nonetheless absolutely necessary, it means educating ourselves about and recognizing the full extent of the Palestinian Nakba, whose effects continue today. Resolution of the conflict necessitates that we confront our moral obligations as Jews, as Americans, and as global citizens to acknowledge responsibility, make restitution, and pay compensation.

 

New Article: Suwaed, Bedouin-Jewish Relations in the Negev 1943–1948

Suwaed, Muhammad Youssef. “Bedouin-Jewish Relations in the Negev 1943–1948.” Middle Eastern Studies 51.5 (2015): 767-88.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00263206.2014.985663

 

Abstract

On the foundation of the first Jewish settlements in the Negev, at the start of the 1940s, the Bedouins welcomed the Jewish settlers. The local personal connections and mutual acquaintance between them created a feeling of closeness. The symbiosis of daily life and mutual help in the fields of personal needs, from medicine to transport, replaced their mutual fears.

However, two factors quickly changed this attitude. The first was a severe drought, which struck the Negev in the winter of 1947, and brought with it a difficult economic situation, followed by several robberies and disputes, and damage to property. The second factor was the incessant encouragement given by the leaders of the Palestinian National Movement to the Bedouins to join the struggle against the Jewish population, especially after the UN decision in November 1947, that is, after the partition of Palestine and the inclusion of the Negev within the borders of the Jewish state.

Most of the Bedouins joined the Palestinian National Struggle. Friends of yesterday became today’s enemies. The years 1947–1949 were a period of anarchy, which continued well into the 1950s. In this period the State of Israel was established. Consequently, the Jewish population in the Negev was no longer the party responsible for the relationship with the Bedouins, as the Israeli government took its place. Also contact between neighbors was reduced after the Bedouins were evacuated toward the ‘fence’ region, in the Beer-Sheva Valley. The freedom the Bedouins enjoyed before the war did not exist anymore.

Lecture: Klein, Jewish-Arab Relations in Palestinian and Israeli Cities (NYU Taub, March 25, 2015)

New Perspectives on Jewish-Arab Relations in Palestinian and Israeli Cities

Prof. Menachem Klein, Bar-Ilan University

NYU Taub Center for Israel Studies

3/25/15 – 5:30pm

taubKlein

Prof. Menachem Klein is a member in the Department of Political Science at Bar-Ilan University, Israel. A graduate of the Hebrew University, he has been a visiting professor at a number European universities. In 2000 he was an adviser for Jerusalem Affairs and Israel-PLO Final Status Talks to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shlomo Ben-Ami, and a member of advisory team operating in the office of Prime Minister Ehud Barak. In 2003 he was one of the signatories of the Geneva Agreement. His book Lives in Common: Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Hebron was published in 2014 by Oxford University Press and was named to The New Republic‘s 2014 Best Global Non-Fiction List.

New Book: Halperin, Babel in Zion

Halperin, Liora R. Babel in Zion. Jews, Nationalism, and Language Diversity in Palestine, 1920-1948. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014.

 

9780300197488

 

The promotion and vernacularization of Hebrew, traditionally a language of Jewish liturgy and study, was a central accomplishment of the Zionist movement in Palestine in the years following World War I. Viewing twentieth-century history through the lens of language, author Liora Halperin questions the accepted scholarly narrative of a Zionist move away from multilingualism, demonstrating how Jews in Palestine remained connected linguistically by both preference and necessity to a world outside the boundaries of the pro-Hebrew community even as it promoted Hebrew and achieved that language’s dominance. The story of language encounters in Jewish Palestine is a fascinating tale of shifting power relationships, both locally and globally. Halperin’s absorbing study explores how a young national community was compelled to modify the dictates of Hebrew exclusivity as it negotiated its relationships with its Jewish population, Palestinian Arabs, the British, and others outside the margins of the national project and ultimately came to terms with the limitations of its hegemony in an interconnected world.

Table of Contents

Note on transliteration and translation

Acknowledgements

Introduction: Babel in Zion

Languages of Leisure in the Home, the Coffeehouse, and the Cinema

Peddlers, Traders, and the Languages of Commerce

Clerks, Translators, and the Languages of Bureaucracy

Zion in Babel: The Yishuv in Its Arabic-Speaking Context

Hebrew Education between East and West: Foreign-Language Instruction in Zionist Schools

Conclusion: The Persistence of Babel

Notes

Bibliography

Index

 

New Article: Marshall, Love Stories of the Occupation

Marshall, David Jones. “Love Stories of the Occupation: Storytelling and the Counter-Geopolitics of Intimacy.” Area 46.4 (2014): 349-51.

 

URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/area.12138_3/abstract

 

Abstract

Though research on Israel/Palestine often privileges the macro-geopolitical perspective, a growing body of work has begun to catalogue the ways in which the violence of occupation is carried out through intimate spaces and practices. However, often missing from such accounts is an understanding of intimacy as a counter-veiling political force. Looking at the ‘Love Under Apartheid’ project in Palestine, and queer anti-occupation organising in Israel, this paper considers how storytelling can serve as both a research methodology and political intervention, changing the way geopolitical stories are told and unfold.

ToC: Israel Studies Review 29.2 (2014): New Age Culture in Israel

Guest Editors’ Introduction: New Age Culture in Israel
pp. 1-16
Authors: Werczberger, Rachel; Huss, Boaz

Articles

This article focuses on the concept of identity by juxtaposing New Age philosophy and nationalism in the Israeli context. Based on my qualitative research, I deconstruct the Israeli New Age discourse on ethno-national identity and expose two approaches within this discourse. The more common one is the belief held by most Israelis, according to which ethno-national identity is a fundamental component of one’s self. A second and much less prevalent view resembles New Age ideology outside Israel and conceives of ethno-national identities as a false social concept that separate people rather than unite them. My findings highlight the limits of New Age ideology as an alternative to the hegemonic culture in Israel. The difficulty that Israeli New Agers find in divorcing hegemonic conceptualizations demonstrates the centrality and power of ethno-national identity in Israel.
In this article I examine eschatological beliefs and practices among channels in Israel and abroad, and show that they demonstrate an avoidance of traditional, group-oriented political action, and an embrace of alternative, spiritual action performed individually. This is linked to Israel’s shift to a neo-liberal economy and culture in the last few decades, where self-accountability has become the norm. Channeling teaches an extreme version of self-divinity, claiming that a person creates all aspects of his or her life and objecting to outside authority and regulation. It believes in a coming of a New Age of light and that the means to achieve it are personal quests for individual empowerment, which are anticipated to affect the whole world via the “virtual aggregate group,” an energetic reservoir that replaces the traditional group. Channels are engaged in alternative political action, attempting to change the world by virtually pooling spiritual resources.
This article charts the recent development of Modern Paganism in Israel (1999–2012) and analyzes the discourse maintained by Israeli modern-day Pagans when discussing questions of organization and of religious-political rights. As such it deals with the complexities of identifying oneself as a (Jewish-born) Pagan in Israel, the nation state of the Jewish people. I argue that although Israeli Pagans may employ a community-building discourse, they constantly fear the perceived negative consequences of public exposure. They see the bond between (Jewish) religion and the state in Israel as a main factor in the intolerance and even persecution that they expect from the government and from Haredim (“ultra-Orthodox” Jews). The result of this discourse during the first ten years or so of the presence of Modern Paganism in Israel can be seen through the metaphor of a dance, in which participants advance two steps, only to retreat one.
The notion of consciousness change as a political concept has re-emerged as a central issue in recent Israeli political discourse in diverse and seemingly remote groups. The following is a study of some of the contexts and implications of according primacy to consciousness change in political thought, through the tensions between the highly individualistic character of this discourse and its collective language and aims. I focus on one study case, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, a key figure in both extreme settler groups and current New Age Hasidic revival. Analyzing his political writings, I explore his notion of consciousness as the true place of politics. Finally, I return to the question of the context in which Rabbi Ginsburgh’s binding of the political to consciousness should be read, and propose liberal individualism, and the direct line it draws between the individual’s consciousness and that of the state, as an alternative hermeneutical perspective.
The quest for personal and inner spiritual transformation and development is prevalent among spiritual seekers today and constitutes a major characteristic of contemporary spirituality and the New Age phenomenon. Religious leaders of the Bratslav community endeavor to satisfy this need by presenting adjusted versions of hitbodedut meditation, a practice that emphasizes solitary and personal connection with the divine. As is shown by two typical examples, popular Bratslav teachers today take full advantage of the opportunity to infuse the hitbodedut with elements not found in Rabbi Nachman’s teachings and to dispense with some elements that were. The article addresses the socio-political rationale at the root of these teachers’ novel interpretation of Bratslav hitbodedut and the ways they attempt to deal with the complications that arise out of their work.
This article describes the new “field” of Sufi ideas and practices in Israeli Jewish society and analyzes the mutual relations between new Western Sufi influences and traditional Sufi orders of the Middle East. It focuses on the role of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in this evolving field. While the current rise of interest in spirituality is often described as emphasizing an apolitical approach, the evolving Sufi field in Israel is an example of a field that cannot detach itself from the overarching conflict. Moreover, efforts are made by some of the actors in this field to present Sufism as representing a different Islam and, hence, as a potential bridge between the rival parties. These approaches, as this article shows, have their own complexities and influences on the emerging Sufi field in Israel.
Review Essay

Book Reviews

Book Reviews
pp. 153-170

Daniel Bar-Tal and Izhak Schnell, eds., The Impacts of Lasting Occupation: Lessons from Israeli Society

Review by Ned Lazarus

Alan Craig, International Legitimacy and the Politics of Security: The Strategic Deployment of Lawyers in the Israeli Military

Review by Ariel L. Bendor

Joel S. Migdal, Shifting Sands: The United States in the Middle East

Review by Aharon Klieman

Miriam Fendius Elman, Oded Haklai, and Hendrik Spruyt, eds., Democracy and Conflict Resolution: The Dilemmas of Israel’s Peacemaking

Review by Jay Rothman

Eyal Levin, Ethos Clash in Israeli Society

Review by Gabriel Ben-Dor

Danielle Gurevitch, Elana Gomel, and Rani Graff, eds., With Both Feet on the Clouds: Fantasy in Israeli Literature

Review by Ari Ofengenden

Calendar of Events: Taub Center for Israel Studies, NYU, Fall 2014

Please join the Taub Center for Israel Studies for these exciting events in Fall 2014.

Event details can be found at www.taub.as.nyu.edu

October 21 – 5pm

“Is Arab/Jewish Coexistence in Israel Possible?”

Professor Yuli Tamir, former Israeli Education Minister

 

October 28 – 5:30pm

“Shattered Rhymes: The Life and Poetry of Erez Bitton”

Film Screening, Poetry Reading and Panel Discussion

 

November 9 – 4pm

Invisibles” and “Write Down, I’m Arab

Film Screenings and Discussion

Part of the Other Israel Film Festival

 

November 17 – 5pm

“The World Jewish Congress during the Holocaust: Between Restraint and Activism”

Professor Zohar Sagev, University of Haifa

 

November 24 – 5pm

“Israel as Western and Non-Western”

Professor Sammy Smooha, University of Haifa / NYU Visiting Professor

 

December 1 – 5pm

Title TBD

Professor Alon Confino, University of Virginia

 

December 4 – 5pm

“Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel’s Liberal Settler State”

Professor Shira Robinson, George Washington University