Bulletin: Americans Jews and Israel

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New Book: Kreiger, The Dead Sea and the Jordan River

Kreiger, Barbara. The Dead Sea and the Jordan River. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016.

 

9780253019523_med

 

For centuries travelers have been drawn to the stunning and mysterious Dead Sea and Jordan River, a region which is unlike any other on earth in its religious and historical significance. In this exceptionally engaging and readable book, Barbara Kreiger chronicles the natural and human history of these storied bodies of water, drawing on accounts by travelers, pilgrims, and explorers from ancient times to the present. She conveys the blend of spiritual, touristic, and scientific motivations that have driven exploration and describes the modern exploitation of the lake and the surrounding area through mineral extraction and agriculture. Today, both lake and river are in crisis, and stewardship of these water resources is bound up with political conflicts in the region. The Dead Sea and the Jordan River combines history, literature, travelogue, and natural history in a way that makes it hard to put down.

 

Table of Contents

    • Part I. This Strange Water
      1. Some Early History, Travellers, Myths
    • Part II. Nineteenth-Century Exploration
      2. Three Sailors, and a River
      3. Along the Briny Strand
    • Part III. Origins and Evolution
      4. The Life of a Lake
    • Part IV. Further Exploration
      5. Gentleman from Siberia
      6. A Lake Divided
    • Part V. The Twenty-First Century
      7. The River and Lake in Distress
      8. Reclamation, and a Vision of the Future
    • Afterword

 

BARBARA KREIGER is Creative Writing Concentration Chair and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program at Dartmouth College. Her other publications include Divine Expectations: An American Woman in Nineteenth-Century Palestine. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Smithsonian Magazine, and other publications.

New Book: Feldman, A Jewish Guide in the Holy Land

Feldman, Jackie. A Jewish Guide in the Holy Land. How Christian Pilgrims Made Me Israeli. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016.

 
Feldman

 

For many Evangelical Christians, a trip to the Holy Land is an integral part of practicing their faith. Arriving in groups, most of these pilgrims are guided by Jewish Israeli tour guides. For more than three decades, Jackie Feldman—born into an Orthodox Jewish family in New York, now an Israeli citizen, scholar, and licensed guide—has been leading tours, interpreting Biblical landscapes, and fielding questions about religion and current politics. In this book, he draws on pilgrimage and tourism studies, his own experiences, and interviews with other guides, Palestinian drivers and travel agents, and Christian pastors to examine the complex interactions through which guides and tourists “co-produce” the Bible Land. He uncovers the implicit politics of travel brochures and religious souvenirs. Feldman asks what it means when Jewish-Israeli guides get caught up in their own performances or participate in Christian rituals, and reflects on how his interactions with Christian tourists have changed his understanding of himself and his views of religion.

 

Table of Contents

  • 1. How Guiding Christians Made Me Israeli
  • 2. Guided Holy Land Pilgrimage—Sharing the Road
  • 3. Opening Their Eyes: Performance of a Shared Protestant-Israeli Bible Land
  • 4. Christianizing the Conflict: Bethlehem and the Separation Wall
  • 5. The Goods of Pilgrimage: Tips, Souvenirs, and the Moralities of Exchange
  • 6. The Seductions of Guiding Christians
  • 7. Conclusions: Pilgrimage, Performance, and the Suspension of Disbelief

 

JACKIE FELDMAN a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He is author of Above the Death Pits, Beneath the Flag: Youth Voyages to Poland and the Performance of Israeli National Identity. He has been a licensed tour guide in Jerusalem for over three decades.

 

 

 

New Article: Meydani, Tour Guides Policy: Law or Political Culture?

Meydani, Assaf.”Tour Guides Policy: Law or Political Culture? The Case of Pilgrims in the Holy Land.” International Journal of Public Law and Policy 5.3 (2016).

 
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1504/IJPLAP.2015.075028

 
Abstract

The role of tour guides has not been widely discussed in the literature, and neither has the policy that governs the place of tour guides in relation to the pilgrimage in the Holy Land. The Israeli Supreme Court (1987) has enabled pilgrims to guide without a licence, in clear opposition to the position of the Israeli Tour Guides’ Association. This led to a public ‘storm’, as a result of the tension between law, tourism, religion and state. It seems that the pilgrims’ debate is not over yet in Israel. This paper will try to analyse the court decision within a neo-institutionalism approach emphasising non-governability and alternative political culture as explanatory variables.

 

 

 

New Article: Suwaed, The Image of the Bedouin in Travel Literature of the 19th Century

Suwaed, Muhammad. “The Image of the Bedouin in Travel Literature and Western Researchers Who Visited Palestine in the Nineteenth Century.” Digest of Middle East Studies (early view; online first).
 
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dome.12075
 
Abstract

With the weakening of the Ottoman government from the end of the sixteenth century onwards, the Bedouin took over the control of the entire Country of Palestine. As the Bedouin were present across the country, western travelers and researches visiting the Holy Land as tourists, visitors, and investigators often met the Bedouin, especially during the robbery and plunder executed by the Bedouin upon travelers, and when hiring them as tour guides, renting their camels, or employing them as guards. On their return to their countries, these travelers reported on their experiences in the East in the form of books. These western travelers and researchers, in their writings, dealt with the Bedouin. They described them as providers of services to caravans, transporters of luggage, tour guides, and robbers. The writers and researchers explicitly described the traits, characters, food habits, clothing, residences, and occupations of the Bedouin.

 

 

 

New Article: Kreiner et al, Understanding Conflicts at Religious-Tourism Sites: The Baha’i World Center, Israel

Kreiner, Noga Collins, Deborah F. Shmueli, and Michal Ben Gal. “Understanding Conflicts at Religious-Tourism Sites: The Baha’i World Center, Israel.” Tourism Management Perspectives 16 (2015): 228-36.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tmp.2015.04.001 [PDF]

 

Abstract

This article analyzes a conflict stemming from the construction of a religious-tourism site —The Baha’i World Center, in Haifa, Israel and contributes to the literature on the relationship between religion, tourism, and conflict. We first propose a framing typology based on literature of conflicts, as well as analysis of empirical data, using Grounded Theory. We then apply the typology on the conflict around the construction of the Baha’i World Center in Haifa. Our main findings fall under three main themes, or super-frames: ‘Process,’ ‘Values,’ and ‘Issues’ — of which the ‘Process super-frame’ was found to have the dominant role in the Baha’i case study. Beyond that, we offer a method that may be useful in understanding the conflicts stemming from the construction of tourism at religious-tourism sites elsewhere and, at times, shed light on possible approaches to reframing disputes over tourism sites.

 

 

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: 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 Book: Yacobi, Israel and Africa

Yacobi, Haim. Israel and Africa. A Genealogy of Moral Geography, Routledge Studies in Middle Eastern Geography. New York: Routledge, 2015.

 

9781138902374

 

Through a genealogical investigation of the relationships between Israel and Africa, this book sheds light on the processes of nationalism, development and modernization, exploring Africa’s role as an instrument in the constant re-shaping of Zionism. Through looking at “Israel in Africa” as well as “Africa in Israel”, it provides insightful analysis on the demarcation of Israel’s ethnic boundaries and identity formation as well as proposing the different practices, from architectural influences to the arms trade, that have formed the geopolitical concept of “Africa”. It is through these practices that Israel reproduces its internal racial and ethnic boundaries and spaces, contributing to its geographical imagination as detached not solely from the Middle East but also from its African connections.

This book would be of interest to students and scholars of Middle East and Jewish Studies, as well as Post-colonial Studies, Geography and Architectural History.

 

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction: Family Album

Part One: Israel in Africa
Chapter 1: Africa’s Decade
Chapter 2: The Architecture of Foreign Policy

Part Two: Africa in Israel
Chapter 3: Consuming, Reading, Imagining
Chapter 4: North Africa in Israel
Chapter 5: The Racialization of Space

Part Three: Israel in Africa II
Chapter 6: Back to Africa

Conclusion

Haim Yacobi is a Senior Lecturer, Department of Politics and Government, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.

 

 

New Book: Bar, Reinternment of Renowned Men in the Land of Israel, 1904-1967 (in Hebrew)

Bar, Doron. Ideology and Symbolic Landscape. The Reinternment of Renowned Men in the Land of Israel, 1904-1967. Jerusalem: Magnes, 2015 (in Hebrew).

 

reinterment

 

Why was Theodor Herzl buried on a desolate mountaintop in West Jerusalem and why did his resting place remain many years with no tombstone?

What is the reason that Judah Leib Pinsker was buried in an ancient burial cave of the Second Temple period?

How was Ramat Hanadiv designed as a burial ground for Edmond Benjamin James de Rothschild?

Why was Otto Warburg buried in Degania?

Doron Bar’s new book examines these issues. Through detailed documentation and accompanying photographs, it delineates the journeys of these figures and other prominent leaders – visionaries of Zionism, political leaders, heroes, intellectuals and pioneers – from the diaspora to their reinternment in the Land of Israel. It examines the question regarding the reasons for the great efforts to bring their remains to burial in Israel, as well as the conduct of the necessary procedures in Israel and abroad. It discusses what made the graves of these prominent men – in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Zikhron Ya’akov and Kinneret – a pilgrimage site, that contributed to the design of the symbolic and civic landscape of the State of Israel
.

 

 

New Article: Beck, From West Africa to Mecca and Jerusalem: The Tijāniyya on the Hajj Routes

Beck, Irit. “From West Africa to Mecca and Jerusalem: The Tijāniyya on the Hajj Routes.” Journal of the Middle East and Africa 6.1 (2015): 1-15.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21520844.2015.1026243

 

Abstract

Pilgrimage routes from West Africa provided channels for cultural and spiritual exchange between West African and Middle Eastern Muslims, and facilitated religious exchanges. Some of these exchanges were orthodox in nature; others, such as Sufi beliefs and practices, were more popular in their appeal. This article examines the ways that Tijāniyya tāriqa leaders and disciples spread their beliefs and practices along the hajj routes during the colonial period. Since this period saw the transformation of boundaries and borders, the hajj could be perceived more as a “state affair,” as its routes moved within the boundaries of the new empires or fluctuated between the new colonial empires. The article focuses on the Tijāniyya tāriqa, mainly because this tāriqa was relatively new (established around the beginning of the nineteenth century) and as such serves as a good case study for the spread of tāriqa affiliations through the hajj routes from West Africa during the colonial period. This article also examines the role of the hajj for Tijāni West African Muslims who settled in Jerusalem in the same period.

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.