New Article: Huss, Imber’s Perception of Kabbalah

Huss, Boaz. “Forward, to the East: Naphtali Herz Imber’s Perception of Kabbalah.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 12.3 (2013): 398-418.




Naphtali Herz Imber is famous as the author of the Jewish national anthem, “Hatikvah” (“The Hope”). He is also quite well known for his non-conformism, vagabond lifestyle, and excessive drinking. However, his interest in the occult and Kabbalah are much less known. Imber wrote several articles on Jewish mysticism, translated some kabbalistic texts, and published the first journal on Kabbalah—Uriel: A Monthly Magazine Devoted to Cabbalistic Science (of which only one issue appeared). Although much scholarly literature has been devoted to Imber and his famous poem, his interest in the occult and Jewish mysticism has not been investigated. This article will discuss Imber’s encounter with late-nineteenth-century esotericism, specifically the doctrines of Laurence and Alice Oliphant and the Theosophical Society. It presents Imber’s notions concerning Jewish mysticism and examines the impact that the Theosophical Society and the Oliphants’ principles had on his perception of Kabbalah. Finally, it discusses the connection between Imber’s Zionism and his interest in Kabbalah and shows that his perception of Jewish mysticism, which was greatly influenced by Western esoteric ideas, was shaped in the framework of fin de siècle Orientalism and Jewish nationalism. Imber’s positive evaluation of Jewish mysticism and its nationalistic interpretation anticipates the position of later Zionist scholars of Jewish mysticism, whose vision of Kabbalah and Hasidism largely shaped the way Jewish mysticism is perceived and studied today.

Cite: Bar-Yosef, Haifa as Futuristic Urban Fantasy in Herzl’s Altneuland and Guttenberg’s A Modern Exodus

Bar-Yosef, Eitan. “New Cities for New Jews: Haifa as Futuristic Urban Fantasy in Theodor Herzl’s Altneuland and Violet Guttenberg’s A Modern Exodus.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 12.2 (2013): 162-83.





This essay explores the representation of the modern Jewish city in Palestine, envisioned in two fin-de-siècle futuristic tales: Theodor Herzl’s Altneuland (1902) and Violet Guttenberg’s A Modern Exodus (1904). Focusing on the northern port city of Haifa, transformed by the Jews from a poor Oriental town into a thriving Europeanized metropolis, both novelists employ the city’s spatial, cultural, and human features to present radically different views concerning the national Jewish rejuvenation: for Herzl, it becomes a utopian triumph; for Guttenberg, a deplorable failure. Notwithstanding their different assessments of the Zionist vision, both authors share certain antisemitic assumptions about the nature of “the Jew” (greedy, intolerant, vulgar), which are inscribed into the urban space. Herzl’s ideal Haifa is designed precisely to reform the diaspora Jew by introducing such modern urban measures that would render these detestable Jewish traits obsolete. Guttenberg’s disordered city, in comparison, reflects an inability to alter the Jewish character: no wonder that London, not Haifa, becomes the final destination of her “Modern Exodus.”

ToC: Israel Affairs 19,3 (2013)

Israel     Affairs, Vol. 19, No. 3, 01 Jul 2013 is now available on Taylor & Francis Online.

This new issue contains the following articles:

Original Articles
‘We     need the messiah so that he may not come’: on David Ben-Gurion’s use of     messianic language
Nir Kedar
Pages: 393-409
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799864

Beyond     a one-man show: the prelude of Revisionist Zionism, 1922–25
Jan Zouplna
Pages: 410-432
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799871

Another     Orient in early Zionist thought: East Asia in the press of the Ben-Yehuda     family
Guy Podoler
Pages: 433-450
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799866

Jerusalem     in Anglo-American policy in the immediate wake of the June 1967 war
Arieh J. Kochavi
Pages: 451-467
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799865

A     farewell to arms? NGO campaigns for embargoes on military exports: the case     of the UK and Israel
Gerald M. Steinberg, Anne Herzberg & Asher Fredman
Pages: 468-487
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799869

The     politics of ‘over-victimization’ – Palestinian proprietary claims in the     service of political goals
Haim Sandberg
Pages: 488-504
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799868

Equality,     orthodoxy and politics: the conflict over national service in Israel
Etta Bick
Pages: 505-525
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799862

The     establishment of a political-educational network in the State of Israel:     Maayan Hahinuch Hatorani
Anat Feldman
Pages: 526-541
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799863

Between     the dream and the reality: vocational education in Israel, 1948–92
Nirit Raichel
Pages: 542-561
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799867

The     influence of mergers on the capital market
Tchai Tavor
Pages: 562-579
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799870

Book Reviews
1973:     the way to war
Raphael Cohen-Almagor
Pages: 580-582
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.778094

Land     and desire in early Zionism
David Rodman
Pages: 583-584
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799881

Israel     in Africa, 1956–1976
David Rodman
Pages: 584-585
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799899

Zion’s     dilemmas: how Israel makes national security policy
David Rodman
Pages: 586-587
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799882

Should     Israel exist? A sovereign nation under attack by the international     community
David Rodman
Pages: 588-589
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799885

The     role of US diplomacy in the lead-up to the Six Day War: balancing moral     commitments and national interests
David Rodman
Pages: 589-590
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799886

The     wars of the Maccabees: the Jewish struggle for freedom, 167–37 BC
David Rodman
Pages: 590-592
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799887

In     the aftermath of Operation Pillar of Defence: the Gaza strip, November 2012
David Rodman
Pages: 592-593
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799888

The     future of the Jews: how global forces are impacting the Jewish people,     Israel and its relationship with the United States
David Rodman
Pages: 593-595
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799889

The     lives of ordinary people in ancient Israel: where archaeology and the Bible     intersect
David Rodman
Pages: 595-597
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799890

Israel     vs. Iran: the shadow war
David Rodman
Pages: 597-599
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799883

The     triumph of Israel’s radical right
Evan Renfro
Pages: 599-601
DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2013.799884

Cite: Mendel, On the Creation of the Israeli Accelerated Arabic Language Studies Programme

 Mendel, Yonatan. “A Sentiment-Free Arabic: On the Creation of the Israeli Accelerated Arabic Language Studies Programme.” Middle Eastern Studies 49.3 (2013): 383-401.



This article analyses the creation of the accelerated Arabic language
studies programme in the Israeli-Jewish school system, `The Oriental
Classes’, over the years 1950-67. The article investigates the networks
that enabled and controlled the `Oriental Classes’, the main actors
involved in its operation, the aims of this programme as well as the
ways to achieve them. It argues that this flagship programme serves as
an example of the dominant orientation with which Arabic studies have
been associated in Israeli-Jewish society, that of political and
military intelligence needs, and that this can add a new angle to our
understanding of the way Israel perceives the Arab world, vis-à-vis its
relations with the Arab `other’ and the Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Cite: Kamczycki, Herzl and His Beard

Kamczycki, Arthur. “Orientalism. Herzl and His Beard.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 12.1 (2013): 90-116.





Before Zionism entered the political arena, Theodor Herzl (1860–1904) struggled with many issues concerning his appearance, which were connected with the contemporary dilemmas of Jewish emancipation and stereotypes about the Jewish look. Herzl identified with the Vienna cultural circle and manifested a full approval of its values, for example, by wearing sideburns distinctively modelled on those of the Emperor Franz Joseph. But during his stay in France (1891–1896) Herzl began to consider Austrian anti-Semitism as a new political power. Along with the shift of his views on the Jewish Question, Herzl changed his appearance. He cut off his sideburns and grew a long, black, Assyrian beard instead. This new look alluded to ancient Jewish roots which had gained interest within the context of Orientalism that had become popular thanks to the archaeological discoveries in the Middle East, especially those of images of Assyrian rulers. Thus, the phenomenon of Orientalism understood in aesthetic and historical categories was an important factor behind the formation of Jewish identity. This conclusion constituted a significant argument on the way to embracing elements of Eastern culture and identifying them with Jewish elements in a new, Zionist, incarnation.

CFP: Framing Ethnicity in Israel, Temple U (Deadline Feb 15)


The Mirowski Family Foundation, Jewish Studies and the Center for Afro-Jewish Studies at Temple University invite submissions for a one and a half day workshop, April 19-20, at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.


Israeli society is punctuated by a variety of sectors and social identities. The aim of the workshop is to examine trends since the 1980s of framing identity, "race" and ethnicity in Israel in the light of neo-liberalism, globalization and domestic politics.


We are interested in groups that have been underexamined in Israeli society and those which have undergone interesting quantitative and qualitative changes in the last few decades. We encourage proposals from a variety of disciplines-Sociology, Demography, History, Political Science, Anthropology, etc. Topics might include, but are not limited to:


· New identities-political, cultural, religious

· Racism, chauvinism, discrimination

· Subcultures and cultural hybridity

· Orientalism and its critics

· Migration and absorption



Please submit a 1 page proposals by February 15, 2012 to


image or image

Cite: Tal, David Ben-Gurion’s Teleological Westernism

Tal, David. “David Ben-Gurion’s Teleological Westernism.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 10.3 (2011): 351-364.





Until 1948, the westernism of the Jewish society in the Land of Israel was apparent and taken for granted, as the vast majority of Zionist immigrants who came to Palestine were of European origin, and they built a western society in the Middle East, socially, politically, culturally and economically. Only after the 1948 War and the immigration of hundreds of thousands of Jews from all over the Middle East and North Africa was Israel’s westernism no longer obvious. And indeed, with the arrival of these immigrants from Muslim states, the Israeli government initiated a national-scale endeavour to acculturate the new arrivals to the norms and values of their new home. Scholars suggest various reasons for these actions of the Israeli government, but this article will pay special attention to David Ben Gurion’s westernism. Israel’s first Prime Minister attributed high importance to the maintenance of Israel’s western and modern nature, and he did so not only with the intention of acculturating the newcomers. Based on his profound fear about the ability of the Jewish state to survive in the Middle East, Ben Gurion regarded Westernism and modernism as vital to its survival.

Cite: Weiss, Landscape at the Ben Gurion Airport

Weiss, Elliott. “Establishing Roots at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport Garden: Landscapes of National Identity.” National Identities 12.2 (2010): 199-210.




With the understanding that the planning of public space is a discursive practice, this article examines the cultural meanings encoded in the design of the grounds around Israel’s main airport, Ben Gurion International. Using the example of Terminal 3, the article discusses how the State of Israel leverages landscaped space as an ideological tool in the struggle for control over symbolic expressions of national identity. The design decisions here are framed in the context of the all important Zionist trope of ‘redemption’, or land reclamation in the image of Zion. The airport’s ‘Seven Species Garden’ is explained as part of a widespread mythology of an autochthonous people/land bond, deeply rooted in Jewish-Israeli consciousness, which draws upon the Bible for territorial legitimacy and national identity. Finally, the Orientalist bias betrayed in the airport grounds effectively bars entry of the county’s largest minority to the ‘gateway’ of Israeli national space because such references are based on ethnicity.

Cite: Lavie, Mizrahi Feminism and Palestine

Lavie, Smadar. “Mizrahi Feminism and the Question of Palestine.” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 7.2 (2011): 56-88.





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.

Cite: Loeffler, The Invention of Israeli Music

Loeffler, James. "Do Zionists Read Music from Right to Left? Abraham Tsvi Idelsohn and the Invention of Israeli Music," Jewish Quarterly Review 100,3 (2010): 385-416.



Music is widely recognized as a central component of Israeli national identity, yet the putative Jewishness of Israeli music remains a subject of enduring cultural controversy and ideological confusion. I argue in this article that the roots of Israeli music’s distinctive national character can be traced to the pre-World War I activities of Abraham Tsvi Idelsohn, the pioneering Zionist scholar and ideological progenitor of a revolutionary new concept of Hebrew music. In his early writings, Idelsohn called repeatedly for a rejection of Diasporic Jewish music and the recovery of an authentic ancient Hebrew music for the reborn nation in its homeland. However, his two most influential early publishing projects, a songbook for Jewish schools and massive compendium of liturgical and folk melodies, reveal a more complicated cluster of attitudes towards European music, Diaspora Jewish culture, and the Arab Middle East. Analyzing Idelsohn’s aesthetics, I discuss his different strategies for reconciling ideological purity alongside cultural cosmopolitanism in Hebrew national culture. I conclude that Idelsohn’s aesthetic categories relied strongly on the semantic power of language to determine music’s cultural meaning. This move allowed Idelsohn to link his model of a new Hebrew national music to the very European (and European Jewish) culture he ostensibly rejected. I close by discussing how Idelsohn’s legacy exposes a deeper continuity in Israeli culture that cuts across the perceived ruptures of 1917 and 1948 to link the early Zionist idea of "Negation of the Exile" to contemporary concerns about Israeliness, music, and national identity.


Aesthetics, Cultural nationalism, Cultural politics, Cultural Zionism, Hebrew culture, Jewish music, Diaspora, Idelsohn, Israeli culture, Israeli music, Musicology, Ottoman Palestine, Orientalism

Cite: Hirschberg, A Comprehensive Model of Ideology and Practice in Israeli Art Music

Hirschberg, Jehoash. "The Vision of the East and the Heritage of the West: A Comprehensive Model of Ideology and Practice in Israeli Art Music."  Min-Ad: Israel Studies in Musicology Online 7,2 (2008-2009). 23 pp.




Keywords: Israeli music, culture, popular culture,יהואש הירשברג, מוסיקה, Israel: Society, Ethnic Divide, Orientalism, Mizrahim / Ashkenazim Rift, Mizrahi Israelis, Ashkenazi Israelis