New Article: Barak-Brandes, Mothers in Contemporary Israeli TV Commercials

Barak-Brandes, Sigal. “‘And she does it all in heels’: Mothers in Contemporary Israeli TV Commercials.” Feminist Media Studies (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2016.1178160

 

Abstract

Although numerous studies have examined the image of women in advertising, the current study is exceptional in looking at the representations of motherhood and mothering practices in contemporary Israeli TV commercials, in an attempt to shed light on the ideological messages they reflect and promote. Sixty-four TV commercials were analyzed using critical discourse analysis. In many ads the mother is depicted as aesthetically pleasing and shapely. This inclusion of the beauty myth in all its cruel demands into the can-do mother myth, could lead Israeli women to a sense of failure as they compare themselves to the glamorous image in the ads and invariably fall short. The hetero-couple-headed nuclear family shown in many ads seems to be a conservative manifestation of the assumption that the “good mother” exists only in the framework of the normative family unit. It seems that in the context of the advertising genre, these are products that lie at the heart of family and couple relationships, and that it is therefore possible to speak of the commodification of the family. The study also found progressive images of the clever, resourceful mother alongside the pathetic, ridiculed one—a new kind of a “bad mother.”

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New Article: Chyutin, Female Modesty in Judaic-Themed Israeli Cinema

Chyutin, Dan. “‘The King’s Daughter is All Glorious Within’: Female Modesty in Judaic-Themed Israeli Cinema.” Journal of Jewish Identities 9.1 (2016): 39-58.

 

URL: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/614551

 

Extract

In the latter months of 2011, the issue of female marginalization within Judaism became the focus of a heated debate in Israeli public discourse. During this period, the national press reported on a variety of incidents involving Judaic exclusionary practices: for example, male Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers purposely leaving an official ceremony because it involved a female singing performance; ultra-Orthodox men spitting on a thirteen-year-old girl who was dressed ‘indecently’; and women being harassed on buses for not observing gender separation by moving to the back. These and other similar occurrences were denounced by secular politicians and media, and even prominent figures within the observant community spoke against the spread of segregation. Concurrently, Israeli citizens took to the streets on more than one occasion in support of the victims of Judaic discrimination. The social uproar around these events signals a growing awareness within Israeli society of the patriarchal facets of Judaic practice and their control and oppression of women. This understanding recognizes that the Bible, as a text written by and for men, situates women as the quintessential Other, and thus acts as the condition for an institutional marginalization of womanhood that covers all spheres of Jewish religious life. With reference to this state of affairs, the Judaic demand for sexually-based tzniut (modesty), visible in the aforementioned incidents, has become particularly important for Israeli feminist critique. As Shira Wolosky explains, Judaism’s modesty discourse has defined the danger of women as “that of ‘ervah, a nakedness that contains an erotic element and requires covering.” In protection of a supposed male vulnerability, the Judaic world sought to contain this danger by imposing detailed disciplines [on] women, regulating their seating in the synagogue, eating at feasts, and positioning in recreational and education settings, alongside myriad and multiplying regulations of dress, hair covering, greetings, deportment and, in the ultra-Orthodox world, also work spaces and public travel. These measures, which may be collected under the general heading of mechitzah (separation), engender Foucauldian ‘analytic spaces’ that ‘provide fixed positions’ and establish operational links as means of social regulation. As such, they become obvious targets for the feminist appreciation of female subjectivity under Judaism. Cognizant of the oppressive implications of the mechitzah, religious feminist discourse does not call for its abolishment but rather attempts to reinterpret it; for example, by looking at modesty-regulated spaces as offering opportunities for women to express and strengthen a self-conscious identity, or by expanding the purview of modesty to all members of the community so as to help them ‘view themselves [not] according to the images of each other that have been generated through generations of cagey anxiety and misguided notions, but in the far more forgiving gaze of the divine.’ In contrast, Israeli secular feminist discourse, as reflected through the 2011 public debate on female marginalization, has been largely uninterested in such reasoning. Instead, it has defined feminism and Judaism as fundamentally incompatible, and therefore offered the breaking of mechitzah as the only proper solution for the religious woman’s plight. This position did not emerge ex nihilo. Rather, we find it mirrored in the proliferation of contemporary Israeli films that aim, so it seems, to stage scenes where religious Jewish (or ‘Judaic’) women transgress modesty norms in sexual and romantic contexts. As a genre, these filmic texts imagine observant women to be not only the principal victims of Israeli-Judaic reality, but also its primary challengers. Their challenge is seen as originating from a desire for sexual exploration, a desire that is deemed natural and thus inherently in conflict with Judaism’s artificial laws of sexual management. Accordingly, these works place their characters on a collision course with Judaism’s power structures, a process that ultimately necessitates they abandon their religiosity or live in painful tension with it. The goal of the following pages is to evaluate this corpus of media texts as manifesting the current Israeli secular critique of Judaic androcentrism.

 

 

 

New Article: Barak-Brandes, Ideologies of Motherhood in Contemporary Israeli TV Commercials

Barak-Brandes, Sigal. “Ideologies of Motherhood in Contemporary Israeli TV Commercials.” Communication, Culture & Critique (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cccr.12143

 

Abstract

This article is the first to scrutinize representations of motherhood and mothering practices in contemporary Israeli TV commercials in an attempt to shed light on the ideological constructs that these representations reflect and promote. I employ critical discourse analysis to identify the major recurring features in commercials that represent mothers and mothering. These features indicate advertising’s ability to mobilize the patriarchal ideology of motherhood while using different thematic motifs, and such a mobilization of ideology occurs in the case of both antiessentialist and essentialist messages on motherhood. These different messages complete and complement each other, while in the end they enable advertising to exploit cultural norms and expectations in the service of the marketing and promotion of commodities.

ToC: Jewish Film & New Media 4.1 (2016; special issue on genres)

Jewish Film & New Media

Volume 4, Number 1, Spring 2016

Table of Contents

SPECIAL ISSUE: GENRES IN JEWISH AND ISRAELI CINEMA

Guest Editors: Yaron Peleg and Yvonne Kozlovsky-Golan

 

New Article: Arar & Shapira, Interplay between Belief Systems, Educational Management and Gender

Arar, Khalid, and Tamar Shapira. “Hijab and Principalship: The Interplay between Belief Systems, Educational Management and Gender among Arab Muslim Women in Israel.” Gender and Education (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09540253.2015.1124070

 

Abstract

This paper discusses the decision of Muslim female principals in Israel to don the hijab following their appointment to school principalship. This research employed narrative life-story interviews to understand the women’s decision to alter their appearance and how this transition is connected to their role as female school principals in the indigenous Muslim community in Israel and the reaction they faced both in personal and professional spheres. The principals’ narratives elucidate that transition to wearing the hijab was a matter of choice and collective belonging; it empowers them and affected their leadership style, although it also provokes others’ resistance and reactions. Findings clarify the social and personal identity of Arab Muslim women school principals in Israel, and point to the need for consideration of traditional cultural contexts, to enrich managerial theory. This understanding also supports the argument that governmental and organizational policies and initiatives should recognize the diversity in Muslim women’s backgrounds and the dangers of privileging mainstream women’s perspectives.

 

 

 

New Book: Amir, Abortions as a Silenced Issue in Israel (Hebrew)

אמיר, דלילה. הפלות כסוגיה מושתקת בישראל. על פרספקטיבה פמיניסטית ובין-לאומית ועל דילמות ממסדיות ואישיות. תל אביב: רסלינג, 2015.

 
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The issue of abortion lies at the very heart of a public-political debate which disowns women of their own bodies. This book analyzes how the feminist struggle for the right of women to have an abortion was created under a power struggle and took form according to the cultural, social, and religious climate, at the local, global and historical levels. Through a comparison of policies of various authorities around the world and the influence of the feminist movement’s activity on abortion legislation, this book presents the situation in Israel and recounts the struggles that shape the discourse and ideology underlying the existing abortion law.

Based on primary sources of the process of formulating Israel’s abortion law, and using empirical data, the author demonstrates how the presence of “woman” is muted and often absent from the discourse and therefore is not a decisive factor in shaping legislation in Israel. As a response to this omission, the author presents the stories and experiences of women as a significant focus for the examination of the efficiency of the existing law in relation to women with an unwanted pregnancy.

Is Israeli society today there is a false consciousness that assumes the Israeli abortion law is permissive, stemming from a global trend towards gender equality; In fact, the opposite is true – the abortion debate is silenced from the centers of liberal feminist discourse in Israel. This made it possible for the existing law to regulate and control female reproduction for demographic and governmental needs, while gender politics is preserved and reproduced.

 

 

 

ToC: Hebrew Studies 56 (2015)

Below are the relevant articles for Israel Studies from the latest issue of Hebrew Studies. For a full Table of Contents,click here.

 

Innovative Designation of Diminution in the Writings of Abraham Shlonsky

pp. 231-243

Bat-Zion Yemini

Memory and History in Israeli Post-Apocalyptic Theater

pp. 245-263

Zahava Caspi

Questioning Boundaries of Language and the World: Ambivalence and Disillusionment in the Writings of Shimon Adaf

pp. 265-294

Dorit Lemberger

Hebrew Neologisms in the Writings of Anton Shammas

pp. 295-314

Adel Shakour, Abdallah Tarabeih

The Pain of Two Homelands: Immigration to Israel in Twenty-First Century Hebrew Prose Fiction

pp. 315-331

Smadar Shiffman

“Our Virgin Friends and Wives”?: Female Sexual Subjectivity in Yona Wallach’s Poetry

pp. 333-356

Amalia Ziv

New Testament Jesus in Modern Jewish Literature: A Symposium

pp. 357-358

Zev Garber

Jesus and the Pharisees through the Eyes of Two Modern Hebrew Writers: A Contrarian Perspective

pp. 359-365

Neta Stahl

A Question of Truth: Form, Structure, and Character in Der man fun Natseres

pp. 367-376

Melissa Weininger

Overtones of Isaac and Jesus in Modern Hebrew Narrative

pp. 377-384

Aryeh Wineman

The Jewish Jesus: Conversation, Not Conversion

pp. 385-392

Zev Garber

Reviews

 

Compassion and Fury: On The Fiction of A. B. Yehoshua by Gilead Morahg (review)

pp. 433-436

Yael Halevi-Wise

Periodicals

pp. 437-456

Books Received — 2015

pp. 457-460

New Article: Lahav, What Do Secular-Believer Women in Israel Believe in?

Lahav, Hagar. “What Do Secular-Believer Women in Israel Believe in?” Journal of Contemporary Religion 31.1 (2016): 17-34.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13537903.2016.1109866

 

Extract

Secular-believers, who constitute about 25% of Israeli Jews, are self-identified secular people who believe in some kind of divinity. Based on in-depth interviews with secular-believer women, this study aims to reveal their theological assumptions and claims. It examines metaphors and images participants used to relate to the divine as well as the theological categories they emphasized. The study uncovers the pluralistic nature of secular-believers’ beliefs and the common tendency to address faith-related content in a positive light.

 

 

 

New Article: Zakai, Literature, Ideology and Sexual Violence in the Writing of Rivka Alper

Zakai, Orian. “A Uniform of a Writer: Literature, Ideology and Sexual Violence in the Writing of Rivka Alper.” Prooftexts 34.2 (2015): 232-70.

 

URL: https://muse.jhu.edu/journals/prooftexts/v034/34.2.zakai.html

 

Abstract

This essay explores the politics of women’s writing in the Zionist yishuv by examining the literary career of Rivka Alper, whose work features a difficult clash between a “feminine” narrative of sexual trauma and Zionist ideology. I discuss Alper’s literary trajectory from her first novel, Pirpurey mahapekha, a coming-of-age story of a young woman, which foregrounds themes of sexual trauma and gendered violence, to her second project, Ha-mitnaḥalim ba-har, a biography of a Zionist role model, one of the women founders of the colony of Motza. Alper’s transition from “personal” fiction to ideological literature is part of a process of an arduous self-fashioning toward carving a place for herself, albeit marginal, in the Zionist republic of letters. Her process demonstrates the predicament of writing as a woman in a Zionist cultural space that marks writing as an emasculating practice, but exclusively assigns male writers the role of national subjects. In such a space, I argue, transitioning to marginal genres in order to write for the collective emerges as a privileged alternative for an aspiring woman writer. And yet, as contents from Alper’s fictional writing infiltrate her biographic writing, the literariness of her “less literary” text exposes the exclusions that lie at the heart of the Zionist ideological project, and, in turn, reinscribes “the feminine” as a composite marker of these exclusions back into the Zionist text.

 

 

New Article: Szobel, Prostitution, Power and Vulnerability in Early Twentieth-Century Hebrew Literature

Szobel, Ilana. “‘Lights in the Darkness’: Prostitution, Power and Vulnerability in Early Twentieth-Century Hebrew Literature.” Prooftexts 34.2 (2015): 170-206.

 

URL: https://muse.jhu.edu/journals/prooftexts/v034/34.2.szobel.html

 

Abstract

This article explores the juxtaposition of prostitution, masculinity, and nationalism in the works of Hebrew writers at the beginning of the twentieth century. By discussing the psycho-poetical elements that underlie David Vogel’s depiction of prostitution and the ideological elements in Gershon Shofman’s work, and by exposing their dialogue with Hayim Nahman Bialik, this project explores power, vulnerability, gender, sexuality, and nationalism in Hebrew literature of the first half of the twentieth century.

My study argues that the trope of the prostitute enables writers of early Hebrew literature to negotiate questions of strength and weakness in the Jewish world. Although Bialik’s option of sovereign masculinity became the norm for the Zionist discourse, Shofman, Vogel, Brenner, Reuveni and others expressed different perceptions of gender and power. Hence, in order to understand the intensity of the poetic, national, and gendered dilemmas and struggles of this generation, this study offers to listen not only to their concepts of revival, renewal and empowerment, but also to their expressions of weakness, frustration, loss, anger and aggression.

 

 

New Article: Lachover, Signs of Change in Media Representation of Women in Israeli Politics

Lachover, Einat. “Signs of Change in Media Representation of Women in Israeli Politics: Leading and Peripheral Women Contenders.” Journalism (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1464884915610991

Abstract

The study seeks to examine gender portrayal of Israeli women politicians, and specifically that of candidates for Israel’s parliament on televised news and in print in the elections of 2013. The study is based on an interpretive analysis of all news items wherein the women candidates are mentioned during the month preceding the elections. This study joins recent studies that point to a change in how women politicians are portrayed in the media. Leading contenders succeed in influencing their coverage, and commensurately usually enjoy nonstereotypically gendered portrayal. Moreover, they occasionally seek to make use of hegemonic cultural norms to benefit what they perceive as structuring their positive gendered portrayal. In contrast, the coverage of peripheral contenders suffers from traditional patterns of sidelining. It emerges that peripheral contenders who gain relatively high exposure are portrayed as exceptional based either on their extraordinary other-ness or on the newsworthiness of their campaigns.

 

 

 

New Article: Katz, Religion and Ethnicity in Israeli National Dolls

Katz, Maya Balakirsky. “Dressing Up: Religion and Ethnicity in Israeli National Dolls.” Religion & Gender 5.1 (2015): 71-90.

 
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.18352/rg.10108  [PDF]
 
Dolls
 
Abstract

This article considers Israel’s national image both at home and abroad through the framework of Israeli costume dolls, looking specifically at the way that gender played a role in Israel’s national image as it travelled from domestic production to international reception. Initially, predominantly female doll makers produced three main types of Israeli dolls, but over time the religious Eastern European male doll triumphed in the pantheon of national types. Produced for retail sale to non-Hebrew speaking tourists by immigrant woman, the Eastern European religious male doll came to represent Israel abroad while the market pushed representations of the Middle Eastern Jewish woman and the native sabra child to the side-lines. This article examines the shift from the multi-ethnic collection of dolls as representative of the nation’s idea of itself to the privileging of the male Eastern European doll as representative of the normative image of Israel abroad.

 

 

New Article: Stadler and Luz, Two Venerated Mothers Separated by a Wall

Stadler, Nurit, and Nimrod Luz. “Two Venerated Mothers Separated by a Wall: Iconic Spaces, Territoriality, and Borders in Israel-Palestine.” Religion and Society 6.1 (2015): 127-41.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/arrs.2015.060109

 

Abstract

This article explores the role of sacred places and pilgrimage centers in the context of contemporary geopolitical strife and border disputes. Following and expanding on the growing body of literature engaged with the contested nature of the sacred, this article argues that sacred sites are becoming more influential in processes of determining physical borders. We scrutinize this phenomenon through the prism of a small parcel of land on the two sides of the Separation Wall that is being constructed between Israel and Palestine. Our analysis focuses on two holy shrines that are dedicated to devotional mothers: the traditional Tomb of Rachel the Matriarch on the way to Bethlehem and Our Lady of the Wall, an emergent Christian site constructed as a reaction to the Wall. We examine the architectural (and material) phenomenology, the experience, and the implications that characterize these two adjacent spatialities, showing how these sites are being used as political tools by various actors to challenge the political, social, and geographical order.

 

 

New Article: Burstein, Israeli Mothers in Film

Burstein, Janet H. “Israeli Mothers in Film: ‘Re-visioning’ Culture, Engendering Autonomy.” Shofar 34.1 (2015): 57-80.

 

URL: https://muse.jhu.edu/journals/shofar/v034/34.1.burstein.html

 

Abstract

In many Israeli films, mothers play conventional supporting roles. But several critically important films made between the 1970s and the first decade of the new century become culturally reflexive as they feature mothers who become the interface between family and culture. In part, these films clarify the difference between satisfying cultural expectations, and living satisfactory personal lives. In part these films perform what Adrienne Rich called a “re-visioning” of cultural assumptions through their effects on mothers. The first section of this paper examines gendered cultural assumptions common to the state’s early decades. In the second section, seven films set in those decades mark maternal vulnerability to cultural imperatives apparently nourished by gendered assumptions. In the third section, four films by one filmmaker look back at a family’s past and move beyond it. Having “re-visioned” the cultural intersection in which one mother suffered and broke down, this filmmaker’s protagonists struggle through the first three films with the residue of the maternal ordeal; the repetitions and differences that figure in their memory of the personal past suggest the affective burden carried by recollective narrative. The protagonist of the fourth film in this series moves past personal remembering toward a more general understanding of mental distress that will engender her autonomy.

 

 

New Article: Stadler, Exploring Body Rituals at the Tomb of Mary in Jerusalem

Stadler, Nurit. “Land, Fertility Rites and the Veneration of Female Saints: Exploring Body Rituals at the Tomb of Mary in Jerusalem.” Anthropological Theory 15.3 (2015): 293-316.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1463499615570779

 

Abstract

This article explores the connections between rituals, embodiment, and territorial claims by taking stock of Christian Orthodox rites at the Tomb of Mary in Jerusalem. As part of a comprehensive ethnography of this shrine, I have examined a wide array of body-based female practices that revolve around Mary’s tomb. By rejuvenating embodied practices that are associated with fertility, parturition and maternity, devotees enlist the grotto’s womb-like interior as a platform for kissing, touching, crawling, bending, and other physical acts of devotion that make for a powerful body-based experience. As demonstrated herein, the mimetic journey of a fetus/pilgrim through this womb-tomb expanse elicits a sense of rebirth, which is analogous to reclaiming the land and establishing a “motherly” alternative to the masculine and bellicose disposition in Israel/Palestine.

 

 

New Article: Lahad and Shoshana, Singlehood in Treatment

Lahad, Kinneret, and Avi Shoshana. “Singlehood in Treatment: Interrogating the Discursive Alliance between Postfeminism and Therapeutic Culture.” European Journal of Women’s Studies 22.3 (2015): 334-49.

 
 

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

 

Abstract

This article offers a critical discourse analysis of the Israeli television series In Treatment. The series unfolds the therapy sessions of a 40-year-old single female attorney with her therapist. The main objective of the study was to identify the scripted tactics or narrative strategies that establish and maintain singlehood. The findings indicate that the therapeutic discourse plays a central role in the construction and interpretation of single women’s subjectivities, prompting a narrative that encourages the ‘discarding’ of singlehood as well as therapeutic work slanted towards a more familial and maternally oriented subjectivity. This narrative unfolds through two dominant scripted tactics: the symbolic annihilation of singlehood and the construction of feminine identity hierarchies (what the authors term ‘hierarchies of happy endings’). Moreover, it is also prompted by the discursive alliance between the therapeutic discourse and the postfeminist discourse. Consequently, long-term singlehood is portrayed as an unnatural and pathological life script characterized by its lack and deficiency. Furthermore, as opposed to childless singlehood, single motherhood by choice emerges as a preferred and desirable life option. The category of single motherhood is endowed with new forms of legitimacy, reinforcing new-old patriarchal and postfeminist conceptions of women’s reproductive potential and what is considered to be women’s primary life purpose.

 
 
 

New Article: Shloim et al, UK and Israeli Women’s Accounts of Motherhood and Feeding

Shloim, N., S, Hugh-Jones, M.C.J Rudolf, R.G. Feltbower, O. Loans, and M. M. Hetherington. “‘It’s like giving him a piece of me’: Exploring UK and Israeli Women’s Accounts of Motherhood and Feeding.” Appetite 95 (2015): 58-66.

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2015.06.004

Abstract

Abstract

Objective

The present study explored how Israeli and UK mothers integrate feeding into their conceptualisations of mothering 2–6 months post-partum.

Background

The nature and importance of motherhood is subject to differential contextual, cultural, political and historical influences. We set out to compare experiences of motherhood and feeding between these two countries using a qualitative approach.

Methods

Forty one women (mean age 36.4 ± 2.7 years) from Israel and the UK, mostly married or in a committed relationship were interviewed about their experience of pregnancy, motherhood and feeding. Data were analysed thematically.

Results

The experience of motherhood in the early postnatal period was dominated, for all mothers, by the experience of breastfeeding and clustered around three representations of mothering, namely; 1) a devoted mother who ignores her own needs; 2) a mother who is available for her infant but acknowledges her needs as well; and 3) a struggling mother for whom motherhood is a burden. Such representations existed within both cultural groups and sometimes coexisted within the same mothers. UK women described more struggles within motherhood whereas a tendency towards idealising motherhood was observed for Israeli women.

Conclusion

There are similarities in the ways that UK and Israeli women experienced motherhood and feeding. Where family life is strongly emphasized, mothers reported extremes of idealism and burden and associated an “ideal” mother with a breastfeeding mother. Where motherhood is represented as just one of many roles women take up, they are more likely to represent a “good enough” approach to mothering. Understanding the experience of motherhood and feeding in different cultural settings is important to provide the context for postnatal care specifically where mothers are reluctant to share problems or difficulties encountered.

New Article: Barak-Brandes and Lachover, Mother–Daughter Discourse on Beauty and Body in an Israeli Campaign by Dove

Barak-Brandes, Sigal and Einat Lachover. “Branding Relations: Mother–Daughter Discourse on Beauty and Body in an Israeli Campaign by Dove.” Communication, Culture & Critique (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cccr.12111

 

Abstract

In March 2013, Unilever Israel, owner of the Dove brand, launched a new campaign calling for a dialogue between mothers and their adolescent daughters around the issue of self-esteem and body image. The Israeli campaign was part of the global “Campaign for Real Beauty” launched by Unilever in 2004. The Israeli campaign was run primarily on 2 Internet platforms that appeal to women, and was based mainly on the talk of “ordinary” mothers and daughters on online videos and blogs—ostensibly personal yet produced by advertisers. Based on discourse analysis and critical examination of the consumerist and postfeminist context in which the campaign was produced, this article explores how the mother–daughter relationship suggests a new sphere for processes of branding.

ToC: Shofar 33.4 (2015); special issue: Contemporary Israeli Literature

Coming soon (by July 1) in Shofar, a special issue on contemporary Israeli literature, edited by Rachel S. Harris.

Shofar is available on JSTOR and Project Muse.

Hebrew in English: The New Transnational Hebrew Literature

by Melissa Weininger

Although the historiography of Hebrew literature has often retrospectively portrayed its development as an Israeli phenomenon, recent scholarship has shown the ways in which Hebrew literature’s origins lie largely in the Diaspora. Two new books by Israeli writers written in English, Shani Boianjiu’s The People of Forever Are Not Afraid and Ayelet Tsabari’s The Best Place on Earth, return to the diasporic roots of Hebrew literature by deliberately placing themselves as a challenge to the Zionist narrative of literary historiography. This article elaborates the ways that these books use English to explore the transnational nature of Hebrew literature and participate in a larger literary conversation about globalization. Their linguistic experimentation is also tied to the thematic challenges they pose to foundational Israeli mythologies, like that of the New Hebrew Man, through an emphasis on marginal characters and themes. This literature, which I call “Hebrew in English,” stands as a critique of hegemonic constructions of Israeli identity, nationalism, and culture.

Between the Backpack and the Tent: Home, Zionism, and a New Generation in Eshkol Nevo’s Novels Homesick and Neuland

by Rachel S. Harris

The relationship between travel and home are given new life in the novels of Eshkol Nevo. Framing the contemporary reality in narratives that explore Zionism, travel, and social activism, Nevo offers a conception of the new generation of Israeli writers torn between an Israeli identity, with its increasingly inclusive and polyethnic state, and a Jewish identity with its diasporic roots.

A Spatial Identity Crisis: Space and Identities in Nir Baram’s Novels

by Vered Weiss

The following article focuses on the use of spatial metaphors, and the presence (or absence) of Jewish-Israeli identities in Nir Baram’s novels, offering an overview of his work and locating it within a Hebrew literary tradition. In order to explore individual and collective identities in a (post)modern world, Baram makes extensive and elaborate use of spatial metaphors, blurring the boundaries between inside and outside, tampering with the stable organization of the world, and presenting homes that offer neither shelter nor warmth. The various characters in Baram’s texts—Israeli or not—are either homeless or otherwise displaced, yearning for a home they cannot fully comprehend or construct. The defamiliarization of space in Baram’s work creates the sense that Jewish-Israeli identities are implicitly present even when they are explicitly absent, and detached when they are, indeed, overtly present. This elusiveness seems to be the core of Jewish-Israeli identities as they manifest, or are alluded to, in Baram’s work.

Where You Are From: The Poetry of Vaan Nguyen

by Adriana X. Jacobs

In her debut collection The Truffle Eye (2014), the Vietnamese-Israeli poet Vaan Nguyen brings a mix of cultural and linguistic affiliations to her Hebrew writing that is arguably standard in today’s multilingual and multicultural Israeli society, particularly in the cosmopolitan milieu of Tel Aviv, where she locates much of her work. But as the daughter of Vietnamese refugees who have settled in Israel, Vaan also engages and challenges—through the double position of the insider/outsider—the discourse of exile and return and the politics of memory in Israeli culture. In the 2005 film The Journey of Vaan Nguyen, the Israeli filmmaker Duki Dror offered a nuanced portrait of the friction between Nguyen’s Israeli and Vietnamese identities and her family’s Israeli present and Vietnamese past. In this article, I address how Vaan negotiates and articulates her double position through a close examination of scenes from the film and selections from The Truffle Eye. Against the problematic reception and reading of her poetry as exotic, I argue that the cosmopolitan and transnational movements that shape her work evince a characteristically twenty-first century Israeli mode of travel and translation.

The Shape of Time in Microfiction: Alex Epstein and the Search for Lost Time

by Adam Rovner

This article presents a general theory of microfiction that focuses on the formal elements of the genre’s poetics. My analysis argues that a symmetry exists between microfiction’s contracted spatialization, and the compression—and hence violation—of temporal norms of the reader’s anticipation. The violation of conventional reading anticipation makes microfiction seem not only to be new but also transgressive. Indeed, much microfiction is transgressive of prevailing ideologies of time that are premised on the existence of contingency and the efficacy of human agency. This article takes the work of Israeli microfiction author Alex Epstein as its touchstone while advancing a framework for a theory of the genre.

Alon Hilu and the Hebrew Historical Novel

by Shai P. Ginsburg

In this paper, I discuss Alon Hilu’s two historical novels, Death of a Monk (2004) and The Dejani Estate (2008), as symptomatic of Israeli culture of the twenty-first century. I argue that the question of genre—historical fiction—is as central to the construction of the novels as it is to their reception. As the latter evinces, historical fiction is perceived as blurring the proper boundaries between the “objective” and the imaginary and thus feeds anxieties about the relationship of Jews to history, anxieties that have been haunting Zionist discourses from their inception. Hilu’s novels trace these anxieties to concerns about sexuality and desire and employ them to explore the relationship between two central foci of the Hebrew historical novel, namely, historical agency and historical writing. The novels construct numerous “scenes of writing,” in which writing seeks to retrieve historical agency, embodied in the two novels by desire and sexual potency. Simultaneously, writing is revealed as a mere substitute for desire and sex. Both novels consequently suggest that writing attests to the failure to produce historical agency.

Femininity and Authenticity in Ethiopia and Israel: Asfu Beru’s A Different Moon

by Adia Mendelson-Maoz

This article discusses the work of the female Ethiopian-Israeli author Asfu Beru, whose collection of stories, Yare’ah Aher (A Different Moon) was published in 2002. The small corpus of contemporary Hebrew literature by Ethiopian-Jewish immigrants in Israel usually focuses on the narrative of homecoming and the journey to “Yerussalem,” while often viewing the African space retrospectively in utopian terms. By contrast, the stories in Beru’s collection are set in Ethiopia and do not deal with the journey or immigration to Israel. They depict a rigid traditional society that the protagonist, an adolescent female in many of the stories, has to confront. This article analyzes the convoluted relationship between multiculturalism and feminism through Beru’s hyphenated identity as a member of a traditional society, a woman, a Jew, and a Black, but who identifies at times with the hegemonic Israeli-Western perspective and takes a critical stance toward traditional Ethiopian society.

Settlers versus Pioneers: The Deconstruction of the Settler in Assaf Gavron’s The Hilltop

by Yaakov Herskovitz

This paper engages in a close reading of settlers, settlements, and the portrayal of settler ideology in the novel The Hilltop. This trailblazing novel from 2013, written by Assaf Gavron, foregrounds the image of the settlers in the West Bank and their relationship to the State of Israel. The paper explores this relationship through a discussion of settler ideology and how this set of beliefs comperes to Zionist ideology at large. Thus, the images of the settler and of Zionist pioneers are coupled and reexamined.

 

New Article: Lavie-Dinur et al, Media’s Coverage of Israeli Female Political Criminals

Lavie-Dinur, Amit, Yuval Karniel, and Tal Azran. “‘Bad Girls’: The Use of Gendered Media Frames in the Israeli Media’s Coverage of Israeli Female Political Criminals.” Journal of Gender Studies 24.3 (2015): 326-46.

 

URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09589236.2013.841572

 

Abstract

The study examined news media coverage of Israeli female political criminals to determine how the media construct and portray women who commit ideological crimes against the state, ultimately to discern what these framing choices suggest about women involved in political crimes. Studies show that the media tend to rely on stereotypical gender frames to portray female criminals and their motivations to the public. These frames depict women perpetrators as motivated to commit political crime for personal reasons as opposed to political reasons, which are often cited for male criminal behavior. The study examined the Israeli news media’s use of stereotypical gender news frames when reporting on three Israeli women who committed ideological crimes against the state. The study compared the coverage of these cases among three Israeli newspapers representing different political affinities. As a country with a long history of political conflict, Israel offers a unique opportunity to examine gender bias in the media’s coverage of female actors in the public sphere. The study’s theoretical contribution lies in its analysis of Israeli female political criminals who, by definition of their crime, acted within the political sphere. The study confirms previous research on the subject – mainly that the media rely on gender frames and explanations of personal motive in its portrayals of female criminals.