Cite: Shoham, Separatist Consumption in Interwar Palestine

Shoham, Hizky. “‘Buy Local’ or ‘Buy Jewish’? Separatist Consumption in Interwar Palestine.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 45.3 (2013): 469-89.



The article explores the Zionist cultural economy in interwar Palestine,
by studying the emergence of the field of consumption as an arena for
political struggles among Jews and between Jews and Arabs. The Jewish
nationalist movement employed dominant contemporary assumptions about
economic nationalism in attempts to politicize the economy of British
Palestine, including through campaigns advocating ethnonational
separatism in consumption. Unlike other “buy local” movements around the
world, these were not directed solely against imports; rather, they
were often “buy Jewish” campaigns waged against the consumption of
commodities produced by the rival ethnonational sector in Palestine.
Using a variety of archival and media sources, the article tracks the
development of Jewish separatist consumption campaigns in interwar
Palestine, uncovering a gradual amplification of their ethnonational
emphasis that paralleled the escalation of the Arab–Jewish conflict. The
cultural mechanisms used to attribute ethnic qualities to objects and
define them as either “Jewish” or “foreign” are analyzed with particular
attention to the conceptual contradictions in the definitions of a
Jewish product, which were shaped by economic conflicts and the diverse
political conceptions of Jewish identity. The study of separatist
consumption sheds new light on the “dual society” thesis, revealing the
deep grip of separatist approaches across multiple layers of the Jewish
middle class in the Yishuv.