ToC: Israel Studies 22.2 (2017)

Israel Studies 22.2 (2017)

Table of Contents

    Special Section: Religion And Ethnicity

Articles

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New Article: Hercbergs, Storytelling and the Politics of Sephardi/Mizrahi Cultural Revival

Hercbergs, Dana. “Remembering ‘Old Jerusalem’: Storytelling and the Politics of Sephardi/Mizrahi Cultural Revival.” Journal of American Folklore 129 (2016): 146-70.

 

URL: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/619173

 

Abstract

This article interrogates the cultural politics of a series of storytelling performances in Jerusalem in light of an ongoing “revival” of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jewish heritage in Israel. An examination of performers’ on-stage narratives and interactions reveals three discursive approaches to defining authentic Jerusalem culture through descriptions of “old-time” lifeways: emphasizing the city’s cosmopolitan past; challenging contemporary social hierarchies in Israel via jabs at “Ashkenazim” and idealization of Sephardi culture; and through claims of underlying Jewish unity.

 

 

 

ToC: Israel Affairs 22.2 (2016)

Israel Affairs, Volume 22, Issue 2, April 2016 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

This new issue contains the following articles:

Articles
Writing Jewish history
David Vital
Pages: 257-269 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1140346
How do states die: lessons for Israel
Steven R. David
Pages: 270-290 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1140358Towards a biblical psychology for modern Israel: 10 guides for healthy living
Kalman J. Kaplan
Pages: 291-317 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1140349

The past as a yardstick: Europeans, Muslim migrants and the onus of European-Jewish histories
Amikam Nachmani
Pages: 318-354 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1140355

The mental cleavage of Israeli politics
Eyal Lewin
Pages: 355-378 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1140352

Framing policy paradigms: population dispersal and the Gaza withdrawal
Matt Evans
Pages: 379-400 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1140353

National party strategies in local elections: a theory and some evidence from the Israeli case
David Nachmias, Maoz Rosenthal & Hani Zubida
Pages: 401-422 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1140356

‘I have two homelands’: constructing and managing Iranian Jewish and Persian Israeli identities
Rusi Jaspal
Pages: 423-443 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1140348

Avoiding longing: the case of ‘hidden children’ in the Holocaust
Galiya Rabinovitch & Efrat Kass
Pages: 444-458 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1140350

‘Are you being served?’ The Jewish Agency and the absorption of Ethiopian immigration |
Adi Binhas
Pages: 459-478 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1140345

The danger of Israel according to Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi
Shaul Bartal
Pages: 479-491 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1140343

Leisure in the twenty-first century: the case of Israel
Nitza Davidovitch & Dan Soen
Pages: 492-511 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1140347

Limits to cooperation: why Israel does not want to become a member of the International Energy Agency
Elai Rettig
Pages: 512-527 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1140357

The attitude of the local press to marginal groups: between solidarity and alienation
Smadar Ben-Asher & Ella Ben-Atar
Pages: 528-548 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1140344

The construction of Israeli ‘masculinity’ in the sports arena
Moshe Levy, Einat Hollander & Smadar Noy-Canyon
Pages: 549-567 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1140351
Book Reviews
From empathy to denial: Arab responses to the Holocaust
Alice A. Butler-Smith
Pages: 568-570 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1140354

Holocaust images and picturing catastrophe: the cultural politics of seeing
Alice A. Butler-Smith
Pages: 570-572 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1140342s

New Article: Cohen, Iterative Emplotment Scenarios: Being ‘The Only Ethiopian’

Cohen, Leor. “Iterative Emplotment Scenarios: Being ‘The Only Ethiopian’.” Discourse Studies 18.2 (2016): 123-43.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1461445615623903

 

Abstract

The realism-social constructionism debate has been consequential over the last several decades. Silverstein’s vocabulary of micro-/macro-contexts aids in understanding why the tension can be a useful epistemological heuristic for discourse analysts. Narratives were collected in focus groups of Ethiopian-Israeli college students. Five narratives were selected for ethnic mentions and found to have a particular ‘iterative’ ‘emplotment scenario’ (IES) – recurrent storylines and settings – across tellers and telling events. ‘the only Ethiopian’ is an IES of being sent away to a majority-White elementary/secondary school, socially isolated and denigrated. How are we to understand it when a particular plotline and setting recur in our corpora? I argue that although each story and storytelling is unique, they all borrow from a larger-than-single-telling, already existent trope, that is, a budding master narrative. Taken together, a unique view of a particular socio-cultural process – in this case, something of what it means to be an Ethiopian Israeli – emerges.

 

 

 

New Article: Shoshana, Ethnicity without Ethnicity

Shoshana, Avihu. “Ethnicity without Ethnicity: ‘I’m beyond that story’ State Arrangements, Re-Education and (New) Ethnicity in Israel.” Social Identities (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2016.1166939

 

Abstract

This article examines the connection between state ethnic classifications and the way they are perceived by individuals in everyday life. Using the case of the Boarding School for the Gifted Disadvantaged in Israel which is open to immigrants, an attempt was made to reach an understanding of how individuals who have experienced deliberate state intervention in the ethnic component of their selfhood, experience this intervention years after the (re)construction. The main findings illuminate how boarding school graduates transformed the governmental intervention into a unique ethnic identity for everyday life: ‘ethnicity without ethnicity’. This identity rejects any overt engagement with the ethnic component of the concept of self. This identity even relies on the subject’s constant reminders to himself that ‘he is beyond the ethnic story’ and that meritocratic identity (devoid of ethnic consciousness) is preferable to ascriptive identity. The findings also show that ethnic identity is not necessarily expressed in everyday practices (language, food consumption, music, festivals) but rather in ongoing cognitive engagement of the agent distanced from the available official ethnic classifications. The discussion section tracks the state-organizational sources of this ethnic identity and its relation to the unmarked ethnicity amongst the upper-middle classes.

 

 

 

New Article: First, Common Sense, Good Sense, and Commercial Television

First, Anat. “Common Sense, Good Sense, and Commercial Television.” International Journal of Communication 10 (2016): 530-48.

 

URL: http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/3551

 

Abstract

In an era when identity is a hybrid process, it is interesting to examine whether and how it is possible to glean the presence or absence of certain cultural groups from their representations in a given culture. To do so, I employ two key Gramscian concepts: common sense and good sense. Using three research reports (from 2003, 2005, and 2011) that employed content analysis techniques, this article assesses the visibility of various subgroups in Israeli TV programs and majority-minority power relations in a variety of genres on commercial channels in the prime-time slot. This article focuses on three aspects of identity: nationality, ethnicity, and gender.

 

 

 

New Article: Kachtan, Performance of Ethnicity and the Process of Ethnicization

Kachtan, Dana Grosswirth. “‘Acting Ethnic’—Performance of Ethnicity and the Process of Ethnicization.” Ethnicities (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1468796815610353

 

Abstract

This paper examines the process of “acting ethnic”, and demonstrates that, in certain circumstances, people act in keeping with an ethnic identity. Based on a study of two infantry brigades in the Israeli army (the IDF), the paper shows how organizational ethnic culture forms the basis of the process of “acting ethnic”. This paper highlights the tendency in certain situations to suspend nonethnic privileges by adopting an ethnic identity and in addition, to exaggerate ethnic performance. Moreover, it is argued that “acting ethnic” is a collective performance, aimed not only at belonging to the group, but also as a means of maintaining and reproducing ethnic identity and asserting a legitimate alternative to the hegemonic identity.

 

 

 

 

Reviews: Levy, Poetic Trespass

Levy, Lital. Poetic Trespass: Writing between Hebrew and Arabic in Israel/Palestine. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014.

Levy

 

Reviews

New Article: Simchai and Keshet, New Age in Israel

Simchai, Dalit and Yael Keshet. “New Age in Israel: Formative ethos, identity blindness, and implications for healthcare.” Health (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1363459315595848

 

Abstract

This article presents a critical analysis of New Age culture. We draw on two empirical studies conducted in Israel and show that the lofty notions about freedom from the shackles of socially structured identities and the unifying potential this holds, as well as the claim regarding the basic equality of human beings, are utopian. Blindness toward ethno-national identity reinforces identification with a self-evident hegemonic perception, thereby leading to the exclusion of peripheral groups such as indigenous populations. This exclusion is manifested in the discourse symbolically as well as in the praxis of complementary and alternative medicine, which is one of the main fields in which New Age culture is involved. Thus, the unifying ethos in the New Age culture becomes an illusionary paradise. This article contributes to the study of power relationships between New Age culture in diverse Western countries and the native and peripheral populations of these countries, and to the sociological study of complementary and alternative medicine incorporated into health organizations.

 
 
 
 

New Article: Isleem, Druze Linguistic Landscape in Israel

Isleem, Martin. “Druze Linguistic Landscape in Israel: Indexicality of New Ethnolinguistic Identity Boundaries.” International Journal of Multilingualism 12.1 (2015): 13-30.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14790718.2013.868467

 

Abstract

The Druze community in Israel is a distinct religious community currently undergoing important ethnolinguistic shifts. The government’s implementation of an official policy has led to the deconstruction and reshaping of the Druze political and national identity to one that differs substantially from that of the Palestinian minority in Israel. In this study, I argue that the visibility, vitality and appreciation of Hebrew in the Druze linguistic landscape are indicative of new ethnolinguistic boundaries of the Druze identity in Israel. The fact that the Druze in Israel are dispersed throughout the Galilee and Mount Carmel area and experience varying levels of language contact as well as divergent economic relations with their Palestinian–Israeli and Jewish–Israeli neighbours, suggests that one cannot expect uniformity in the Druze linguistic markets or the processes of social, cultural and linguistic identification. This study will show that Hebrew has become a dominant component of the linguistic repertoire and social identity of the Druze in the Mount Carmel area since it has become the first choice of communication as the linguistic landscape indicates.

New Article: Walsh et al, Discrimination and Delinquency Among Immigrant Adolescents

Walsh, Sophie D., Haya Fogel-Grinvald, and Sabrina Shneider. “Discrimination and Ethnic Identity as Predictors of Substance Use and Delinquency Among Immigrant Adolescents From the FSU and Ethiopia in Israel.” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0022022115588951

 

Abstract

The current study explores perceived discrimination and ethnic identity as predictors of delinquency and substance use among adolescent immigrants in Israel. Theoretically, the study draws from strain theory, immigration-related theories of ethnic identity formation in adolescence, bi-dimensional theories of acculturation, and the rejection-identification model. The study involved 250 adolescents, 140 from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) and 110 from Ethiopia, aged 15 to 18 years (M = 16.7 years). Adolescents were assessed on substance use (cigarettes, marijuana, binge drinking, drunkenness), delinquent behavior, parental relationships (support, limit setting), perceived discrimination, host identity (Jewish Israeli), and ethnic identity (Russian/Ethiopian). Results from structural equation modeling showed that delinquency was predicted directly by greater discrimination, a weaker ethnic (Russian/Ethiopian) identity, and greater substance (alcohol and cigarette) use. Higher levels of parental limit setting and lower levels of parental support predicted higher levels of substance use, but only predicted delinquency indirectly through their impact on substance use. Findings support the hypotheses that perceived discrimination and a weaker ethnic identity predict involvement in delinquency and partially support a hypothesis that higher levels of a positive host identity are related to lower levels of substance use and delinquency among immigrant adolescents. A perceived lack of equal opportunities may lead to stress, anger, and frustration toward society leading to delinquent behavior, whereas difficulties in consolidating a positive cultural identity may lead the young adolescent to fill a void through substance use.

 

New Book: Snir, Who Needs Arab-Jewish Identity?

Snir, Reuven. Who Needs Arab-Jewish Identity? Interpellation, Exclusion, and Inessential Solidarities. Leiden: Brill, 2015.

snir

 

In Who Needs Arab-Jewish Identity?: Interpellation, Exclusion, and Inessential Solidarities, Professor Reuven Snir, Dean of Humanities at Haifa University, presents a new approach to the study of Arab-Jewish identity and the subjectivities of Arabized Jews. Against the historical background of Arab-Jewish culture and in light of identity theory, Snir shows how the exclusion that the Arabized Jews had experienced, both in their mother countries and then in Israel, led to the fragmentation of their original identities and encouraged them to find refuge in inessential solidarities. Following double exclusion, intense globalization, and contemporary fluidity of identities, singularity, not identity, has become the major war cry among Arabized Jews during the last decade in our present liquid society.

Table of contents

Preface
Introduction
Chapter One: Identity: Between Creation and Recycling
Chapter Two: Arabized Jews: Historical Background
Chapter Three: Arabized Jews in Modern Times between Interpellation and Exclusion
Chapter Four: Globalization and the Search for Inessential Solidarities
Chapter Five: White Jews, Black Jews
Conclusion
Appendices
I. Iraqi-Jewish Intellectuals, Writers, and Artists
II. Sami Michael, “The Artist and the Falafel” (short story)
References
Index
Reuven Snir is a Professor of Arabic Literature and Dean of Humanities at Haifa University. He has published many books, articles, translations, and encyclopedia entries. His latest book is Baghdad – The City in Verse (Harvard University Press, 2013).

New Article: Sharaby and Kaplan, Rabbis of Ethiopian Immigrants in Israel

Sharaby, Rachel, and Aviva Kaplan. “Between the Hammer of the Religious Establishment and the Anvil of the Ethnic community. Rabbis of Ethiopian Immigrants in Israel.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 14.3 (2015): 482-500.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14725886.2015.1057995

 

Abstract

This article examines the ambivalent status of rabbis of communities of Ethiopian immigrants who serve within the framework of the religious establishment in Israel. On the one hand, they function in their communities as spiritual leaders who are committed to Jewish law and act as representatives of the religious establishment. On the other, they belong to an excluded ethnic community which perceives them as traitors. Our findings indicate that the marginal status of the Ethiopian rabbis prevents their inclusion and strengthens components of their ethnic identity. Thus, diverse behaviour patterns and various syncretic combinations between religious and cultural elements have been created in their identity.

New Article: Snir, Who Needs Arab-Jewish Identity?

Snir, Reuven. “Who Needs Arab-Jewish Identity? Fragmented Consciousness, ‘Inessential Solidarity,’ and the ‘Coming Community’ (Part 2).” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 14.2 (2015): 299-314.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14725886.2014.997486

 

Extract

This is the answer to the question posed in the title of the present article, there is now no necessity for Arab-Jewish identity, simply because there is no need in our contemporary fluid societies for the traditional notion of identity. The processes which the Arabized Jews and their offspring have undergone are not exclusive. Against the background of the fluidity of identities and globalization at the beginning of the twenty-first century, I believe that the traditional notion of identity has gradually been wearing off. This by no means implies that there are no significant differences between the elite—that is, the intellectuals whose subjectivities are the main subject of my research project and who are intensely affected by the global tendency towards inessential solidarities—and other segments of society whose members are more liable to adhere to the traditional notions of identity. First, unlike the irreconcilable gap, in my view, between the radical “Mizrahi” post-Zionist elite and the masses, the above tendency may be considered to be a vanguard in the sense that it is expected to precipitate a similar large-scale tendency in these masses, even if in this stage it is still far removed, politically, socially and mentally, from it. The recent revolutions in the Arab world have proved inspirational to many because they offer a new sense of collective identity built on the idea of citizenship and not on any essential solidarity such as clan, religion, race or ethnicity. Second, global phenomena such as mass migration and the Internet, which are no longer limited to the elites, have broadened those segments in society that are influenced by the universal inclination towards inessential solidarities. Singularity, not identity, is now the major war cry in our contemporary fluid societies.

 

Reviews: Shemer, Identity, Place, and Subversion in Contemporary Mizrahi Cinema

Shemer, Yaron. Identity, Place, and Subversion in Contemporary Mizrahi Cinema in Israel. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press, 2013.

 

Shemer

 

Reviews

 

 

 

New Book: Omer-Sherman, Imagining the Kibbutz

Omer-Sherman, Ranen. Imagining the Kibbutz. Visions of Utopia in Literature and Film. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2015.

 

978-0-271-06557-1md

URL: http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-06557-1.html

 

Abstract

In Imagining the Kibbutz, Ranen Omer-Sherman explores the literary and cinematic representations of the socialist experiment that became history’s most successfully sustained communal enterprise. Inspired in part by the kibbutz movement’s recent commemoration of its centennial, this study responds to a significant gap in scholarship. Numerous sociological and economic studies have appeared, but no book-length study has ever addressed the tremendous range of critically imaginative portrayals of the kibbutz. This diachronic study addresses novels, short fiction, memoirs, and cinematic portrayals of the kibbutz by both kibbutz “insiders” (including those born and raised there, as well as those who joined the kibbutz as immigrants or migrants from the city) and “outsiders.” For these artists, the kibbutz is a crucial microcosm for understanding Israeli values and identity. The central drama explored in their works is the monumental tension between the individual and the collective, between individual aspiration and ideological rigor, between self-sacrifice and self-fulfillment. Portraying kibbutz life honestly demands retaining at least two oppositional things in mind at once—the absolute necessity of euphoric dreaming and the mellowing inevitability of disillusionment. As such, these artists’ imaginative witnessing of the fraught relation between the collective and the citizen-soldier is the story of Israel itself.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction

1. Trepidation and Exultation in Early Kibbutz Fiction

2. “With a Zealot’s Fervor”: Individuals Facing the Fissures of Ideology in Oz, Shaham, and Balaban

3. The Kibbutz and Its Others at Midcentury: Palestinian and Mizrahi Interlopers in Utopia

4. Late Disillusionments and Village Crimes: The Kibbutz Mysteries of Batya Gur and Savyon Liebrecht

5. From the 1980s to 2010: Nostalgia and the Revisionist Lens in Kibbutz Film

Afterword: Between Hope and Despair: The Legacy of the Kibbutz Dream in the Twenty-First Century

Acknowledgments

Notes

Bibliography

Index

 

Ranen Omer-Sherman is the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence Chair of Judaic Studies at the University of Louisville.

New Article: Drucker, The Alliance Israélite Universelle and Moroccan Jews

Drucker, Peter. “‘Disengaging from the Muslim Spirit’: The Alliance Israélite Universelle and Moroccan Jews.” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 11.1 (2015): 3-23.

 

URL: https://muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_middle_east_womens_studies/v011/11.1.drucker.html

 

Abstract

The project of the French Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU) in Morocco in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—to win social and political equality for Jews through European enlightenment—was intertwined with the French imperial project. Moroccan Jewish women were assigned, as mothers and wives, a special role in the AIU’s efforts: to help Jewish boys and men pursue commercial or professional careers in French-dominated society The AIU schools set out to win Moroccan Jews away from despised Muslim gender and sexual norms by Europeanizing Jews’ marriage patterns and family forms, combating prostitution, eliminating women’s traditional head coverings, and reining in what the AIU saw as men’s promiscuity and homosexual tendencies. Ultimately, the AIU helped further estrange Moroccan Jews from Muslims but failed to secure Moroccan Jews’ smooth integration into French secular culture. Moroccan Jews in Israel today, faced with persistent discrimination, largely cling to religiously based, conservative gender norms.

New Article: Shechory-Bitton et al, Parenting Styles Among Jewish and Arab Muslim Israeli Mothers

Shechory-Bitton, Mally, Sarah Ben David and Eliane Sommerfeld. “Effect of Ethnicity on Parenting Styles and Attitudes Toward Violence Among Jewish and Arab Muslim Israeli Mothers. An Intergenerational Approach.” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 46.4 (2015): 508-24.

 

URL: http://jcc.sagepub.com/content/46/4/508

 

Abstract

The cultural heterogeneity of Israeli society creates a unique opportunity to study the effects of ethnicity and intergenerational differences on parenting styles, attitudes, and practices. Three groups of mother–daughter dyads took part in the study: Native-born Jewish (NBJ) Israelis (155 dyads), Jewish Mizrahi (JM) immigrants (immigrants from Muslim countries (133 dyads), and native-born Arab Muslim (NBA) Israelis (86 dyads). Participants were located through a “snowball” process in which participants referred their friends to the researchers or gave the researchers names of potential participants. Interethnic differences were found in the mothers’ generation, with JM mothers falling in between NBJ and NBA mothers. This trend changed when we examined differences between the daughters. Although intergenerational differences were found in all groups, the differences were more prominent among Jewish mother–daughter dyads than among mother–daughter dyads in the Muslim population. Contrary to the research hypothesis, the parenting style of JM women was closer to that of NBJ mothers than to NBA mothers. The findings are discussed with reference to the complexity of Israeli society and to the encounter between the culture of the immigrant women who came from Muslim countries and the Western culture of the host society.

 
 
 

New Book: Kizel, The New Mizrahi Narrative in Israel (in Hebrew)

קיזל, אריה. הנרטיב המזרחי החדש בישראל. תל אביב: רסלינג, 2014.

book_811_big

The hyphenated narrative – the new Mizrahi narrative that stands at the center of a radical Mizrahi discourse – goes against the Zionism’s negation of an Oriental and Arab identity and posits itself as an alternative of an inntellectual and assertive identity. Arie Kizel’s book examines the rise and consolidation of the Mizrahi narrative which serves as a milestone in the struggle of conflicting narratives as an expression of various identities to express themselves as independent and hybrid among locations of Israeliness.

The author carefully examines the postcolonial and anti-Zionist origins of the Mizrahi narritve and the intellectual assault it launches against the very legitimacy of Zionism, as well as the morality of the political solution it created. This new narrative stance acknowledges the historical difficulties of its subversion, which is presented as emancipatory and especially as ethical. Its foundations relate to the victimized Palestinian narrative, and in its radical version seeks to collaborate with it in order create a new space that will favor Arabism – culturally, linguistically and even politically. This framework is expected to dismantle Zionist colonialism in relation to the regime of truth, the discourse of knowledge and the dominant power, along with rising voices and other narratives as part of a meeting point between anti-Zionism and postmodernism.

Using a three-stage narrative model the author examines the Mizrahi narrative’s attempt to challenge the limits of Israeli discourse, to dissociate from the hegemonic Zionist program, and to present a narrative plan that would allow the construction of a multicultural, anti-colonial model, and rehabilitate the space of Mizrahi-Arab identity. The author lays out the voices of opposition to the proposed narrative and analyzes the causes of the victimization stage it has reached and in which it is trapped, in a capitalist social reality created by Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Israelis and their joint children.

 

New Article: Burton, Israeli Marriage Law and Identity in the Jewish State

Burton, Elise K. “An Assimilating Majority?: Israeli Marriage Law and Identity in the Jewish State.” Journal of Jewish Identities 8.1 (2015): 73-94.

 

URL: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_jewish_identities/v008/8.1.burton.html

 

Excerpt

The concept of assimilation in Israel, and its discursive attachment to intermarriage, is haunted by its origins in a historical context pre-dating the Israeli state, in which many Jews could hardly imagine a society in which they represented the majority culture. Israeli Jews are still inundated with collective memories of being a persecuted minority, most prominently during the Holocaust. Eli Ben Dahan, the deputy minister of Religious Affairs, explained his reference to the Malka-Mansour wedding as part of the “silent Holocaust” by claiming that Israel is the only country in the world in which “ha-peruzah ha-yehudit” (the Jewish diaspora) is increasing rather than decreasing, because in Israel there are no mixed (read: civil) marriages. Echoing the assumptions of early Zionist intellectuals such as Ruppin and Zollschan, Ben Dahan prophesied, “if we allow mixed marriages [here], we would cause the Jewish people to become diminished in Israel as well.”

But the “diaspora” logic favoring the religious marriage system is clearly counterproductive for the preservation of the Jewish people if one considers op-ed headlines like “Israel Forced Morel to Convert to Islam.” Kamir, author of this op-ed, rebukes her fellow Israelis: “The conversion of Morel to Islam is a reminder to all that have not understood: the connection between religion and state in Israel… is the same thing that pushes Jews to renounce their Jewish identity.”  In terms of the Zionist ethno-religious nationalism that underpins the social infrastructure of the Israeli state, Malka and Mansour “are not two citizens permitted to enter a marriage agreement, but [like] a bird and a fish—two species that do not intermingle.” In order to marry, Malka was thus compelled to change her identity and join her husband’s religious community. The solution, Kamir suggests, is “a little more freedom and trust in humanity, and a little less existential Holocaust anxiety,” which would allow Israeli Jews of both sexes to make decisions according to their individual conscience.

Put more bluntly, the Israeli state’s embrace of halakha to adjudicate both an individual’s “authentic” Jewish status with regard to their eligible marriage partners is, in actuality, the force that “diminishes the Jewish people” within Israel. Despite the fearmongering and racialized discourses of assimilation and intermarriage that demonize attempts to introduce civil marriage in Israel, the absence of civil marriage primarily inhibits the integration of self-identified Jews who do not satisfy the Chief Rabbinate’s definition of Jewish identity. Ultimately, Israeli discourse against intermarriage is marshaled to defend and promote the interests of small constituencies of practicing Orthodox and right-wing ethnic nationalists, whose political influence is already completely out of proportion to their representation in the Israeli population. But its effects are more far-reaching and damaging than its immediate political implications because its claims offer such a narrow reading of what it means to be authentically Jewish. As a result, Israeli citizens are compelled to interpret their Jewish identity in terms of whether they are descendants of a “truly” Jewish matriline. Jewish women additionally carry the burden of sacrificing not only their own, but also their children’s, legal Jewish identity if they choose to marry a non-Jew, thus engaging in “assimilation,” regardless of their individual relationships to Judaism and Jewishness. Zionism’s call for a Jewish nation-state, which in turn requires discrete definitions of Jewishness to implement and enforce a national legal system, has therefore precluded the possibility and acceptance of more diverse conceptualizations of authentically Jewish marriages and lives.