Cite: Noy, Spaces in an Israeli Commemorative Visitor Book

Noy, Chaim. “Articulating Spaces: Inscribing Spaces and (Im)mobilities in an Israeli Commemorative Visitor Book.” Social Semiotics 21.2 (2011): 155-173.




This article examines and conceptualizes discourse and space as these are ideologically enmeshed in and through visitors’ entries, which are inscribed in a highly symbolic, commemorative visitor book. Building on recent theorizing in discourse and space-related fields, a re-materialization and a re-spatialization of discourse and discursive practices (inscribing, reading, etc.) is illuminated. Texts and discourse are rendered not as an “abstract sign system”, but as occupying real life spaces, materials, and embodied practices. The article examines co-existing and overlapping modalities, through which spaces are discursively indexed, occupied, imagined and excluded, discussing notions of projected spaces and mobilities, authentic(ating) spaces, and embodied practices. Critical appreciations help shed light on the politically charged site of inscription under examination: a commemorative visitor book located in an Israeli war commemoration site in East Jerusalem. The critical-semiotic and multimodal analysis of visitors’ entries reveals how spaces (of different scales), (im)mobilities and trajectories converge meaningfully on the surfaces of the visitor book. This convergence suggests that the book’s inscribing spaces function as a nexus of meaningful action. The study employs methods and approaches that include and are inspired by ethnographic sensitivities, multimodality, critical discourse analysis and mobility studies.

Cite: Feldman, Conflict and Christianity on the Road to Bethlehem

Feldman, Jackie. “Abraham the Settler, Jesus the Refugee: Contemporary Conflict and Christianity on the Road to Bethlehem.” History & Memory 23.1 (2011): 62-95.





By examining tour brochures, practices of landscape display, posters and tour guiding narrations, I seek to understand how Bethlehem and the "separation wall" between Jerusalem and Bethlehem are integrated into the experience of Western Christian pilgrims of a variety of theological orientations. I argue that current practices of display and narration promote particular political views of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, and lend them authority by saturating them with particular Christian meanings and associations. The study contributes to our understanding of pilgrimage as a site of contested discourses in which local actors sacralize the landscape while making their understandings of the conflict seem self-evident and divinely justified.

Cite: Aviv, Alternative Jewish Tourism

Aviv, Caryn. "The Emergence of Alternative Jewish Tourism." European Review of History 18,1 (2011): 33-43.




This article explores the emergence of ‘alternative Jewish travel’ to the West Bank and within Israel. One programme, aimed at diaspora Jews, reframes religious, cultural, and ethnic Jewish identity to include non-violence and solidarity with Palestinians as part of what it means to be Jewish. Another programme, aimed at Israeli citizens (both Jews and non-Jews), reframes Israeli national identity to include post-Zionist solidarity with Palestinians, but is not necessarily Jewish in any religious or ethnic sense. Alternative Jewish travel programme tours explore complicated questions of justice and nationalism in different ways that reflect their simultaneously local and global positions, who organises them, and how they define Jewishness differently.

Reviews: Stein, Itineraries in Conflict

Rebecca L. Stein, Itineraries in Conflict: Israelis, Palestinians, and the Political Lives of Tourism. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2008.




  • Glenn Bowman, “Review,” Middle East Journal 63,3 (2009): 499-500.
  • Waleed Hazbun, “Review",” Shofar 28,2 (2010): 160-162.

New Publication: Kelner, Tours that Bind

Kelner, Shaul. Tours That Bind. Diaspora, Pilgrimage, and Israeli Birthright Tourism. New York: NYU Press, 2010.

Tours That Bind


Since 1999 hundreds of thousands of young American Jews have visited Israel on an all-expense-paid 10-day pilgrimage-tour known as Birthright Israel. The most elaborate of the state-supported homeland tours that are cropping up all over the world, this tour seeks to foster in the American Jewish diaspora a lifelong sense of attachment to Israel based on ethnic and political solidarity. Over a half-billion dollars (and counting) has been spent cultivating this attachment, and despite 9/11 and the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict the tours are still going strong.

Based on over seven years of first-hand observation in modern day Israel, Shaul Kelner provides an on-the-ground look at this hotly debated and widely emulated use of tourism to forge transnational ties. We ride the bus, attend speeches with the Prime Minister, hang out in the hotel bar, and get a fresh feel for young American Jewish identity and contemporary Israel. We see how tourism’s dynamism coupled with the vibrant human agency of the individual tourists inevitably complicate tour leaders’ efforts to rein tourism in and bring it under control. By looking at the broader meaning of tourism, Kelner brings to light the contradictions inherent in the tours and the ways that people understand their relationship to place both materially and symbolically. Rich in detail, engagingly written, and sensitive to the complexities of modern travel and modern diaspora Jewishness, Tours that Bind offers a new way of thinking about tourism as a way through which people develop understandings of place, society, and self.

Cite: A Visitor Book at an Israeli Commemoration Site


Noy, Chaim. "Mediation Materialized: The Semiotics of a Visitor Book at an Israeli Commemoration Site." Critical Studies in Media Communication 25,2 (2008): 175-195.


This article deals with visitor books as a dynamic medium of communication, and explores how material aspects of such a book—including its physical affordances and the spatial and institutional environment in which it is located—affect its capacity to create and mediate social meaning. In line with recent studies that set out to rematerialize communication and its devices, and, more specifically, to examine writing as an embodied communicative practice, it is argued that material considerations, while frequently overlooked, constitute preconditions of communication, and are organic to semiotic processes and formative in shaping them. The data analyzed are entries in, and observations on, a visitor book located in a war commemoration museum in West Jerusalem, Israel. It is demonstrated that, within the context of a national commemoration site, the visitor book proves to be a fascinating medium of inscriptive communication which is manipulated to serve as a cultural site of nationalist participation, commitment, and performance. The article draws on sensibilities from material and technological literature in order to shed light on the ways in which individuals interact with written environments and technologies.


Keywords: Writing; Materiality; Affordances; Semiotics; Commemoration; Mediation, חיים נוי