Since the time of their arrival beginning around 2005, there remain approximately 46,000 African asylum seekers in Israel. The following paper reviews the foundations and implications of Israel’s political discourse in reference to the presence of this community. I situate the treatment of the asylum seekers in their relationship to the Jewish State, Zionist ideology, international refugee law, and Israel’s human rights community. I argue: 1) that the discourse surrounding the asylum seekers reflects larger changes within the ethos of the Jewish State and models of Israeli personhood; 2) that notions of “security” and “threat” in relation to the asylum seekers take on new meanings shaped by Israel’s ongoing demographic concerns; and 3) that the political response to the African asylum seekers sheds light on irreconcilable goals of the Zionist nation-building project seeking to both maintain a Jewish majority and liberate world Jewry from life segregated and isolated in the Diaspora.
The radical closure of Gaza serves here as an extreme example of a process of isolation and immiseration of national enemies that is deeply rooted in Israeli ideology and practices of state formation. I use encystation to reveal the dual meaning of the term—that of radical isolation of diseased elements and that of protecting a fetus within a womb—and to show how the two meanings connect with respective Israeli policies toward Palestinians and Jews. I suggest in closing that the Oslo Accords have put in place mechanisms for the future imposition on West Bank Palestinians of the same containment currently afflicting Gaza.*
Studies of Jewish students in Palestine’s Christian missionary schools largely end at the close of the Ottoman period. But although a tiny and diminishing fraction of Jewish students studied in such schools after the First World War, the mandate period was marked by anxious and often zealous Zionist anti-missionary campaigns. The article considers this space of Jewish-Christian interaction, arguing that even as a Hebrew-dominant society took root, missionary schools provided education in European languages, particularly English, tools that offered advantages to Jewish students with an interest in clerical work or foreign study. The continuing appeal and importance of foreign language skills cast doubt on the Zionist pretence of a self-sufficient Hebrew society.