This paper analyzes the failure of Israel’s Ashkenazi (Jewish, of European, Yiddish-speaking origin) feminist peace movement to work within the context of Middle East demographics, cultures, and histories and, alternately, the inabilities of the Mizrahi (Oriental) feminist movement to weave itself into the feminist fabric of the Arab world. Although Ashkenazi elite feminists in Israel are known for their peace activism and human rights work, from the Mizrahi perspective their critique and activism are limited, if not counterproductive. The Ashkenazi feminists have strategically chosen to focus on what Edward Said called the Question of Palestine—a well funded agenda that enables them to avoid addressing the community-based concerns of the disenfranchised Mizrahim. Mizrahi communities, however, silence their own feminists as these activists attempt to challenge the regime or engage in discourse on the Question of Palestine. Despite historical changes, the Ashkenazi-Mizrahi distinction is a racialized formation so resilient it manages to sustain itself through challenges rather than remain a frozen dichotomy.
Spanos, William V. "Edward W. Said and Zionism: Rethinking the Exodus Story." Boundary 2 37,1 (2010): 127-166.
In The Question of Palestine and elsewhere, Edward Said locatesthe "justificatory regime" that Zionism has developed to interposebetween its Palestinian victims and itself in the discourseof nineteenth-century British imperialism, by which he meansthe representation of the land occupied by empire as "terranullius." This essay retrieves Said’s "Canaanite" reading ofMichael Waltzer’s Exodus and Revolution, in which the latterinvokes, above all, the English Puritan revolution to demonstratethe emancipatory politics of the Old Testament story and reconstellatesit into the American context, in which, according to SacvanBercovitch in The American Jeremiad, the Puritan founders’ figuralreenactment of the Exodus story is, in fact, one of conquestand occupation rather than emancipation. Such a retrieval andreconstellation will show that Said’s genealogy of the Zionistjustificatory regime undergoes a significant modification when,in the 1950s, the United States takes over the sponsorship ofthe Israeli state from the Old World empires. It will show,specifically, the imperial ideology of the Old World that wasthe original model of the Zionist justificatory regime vis-à-visPalestine was displaced by the far more politically "effective"exceptionalist jeremiadic ideology of the "pioneering" New World.