Equating bureaucratic entanglements with pain—or what, arguably, can be seen as torture—might seem strange. But for single Mizrahi welfare mothers in Israel, somatization of bureaucratic logic as physical pain precludes the agency of identity politics. This essay elaborates on Don Handelman’s scholarship on bureaucratic logic as divine cosmology and posits that Israel’s bureaucracy is based on a theological essence that amalgamates gender and race. The essay employs a world anthropologies’ theoretical toolkit to represent bureaucratic torture in multiple narrative modes, including anger, irony, and humor, as a counterexample to dominant U.S.–U.K. formulae for writing and theorizing culture.
Early Zionist discourse was ripe with constructions of a new Jewish
identity. Discussing responses to the so-called Uganda plan of 1903–5
and notions of Jewish colonisation in Africa and elsewhere, the article
investigates demarcations of Jewishness from, and identifications with,
‘blackness’ in the early twentieth-century German Zionist press and
literature and their impact on the Zionist imaginary vis-à-vis
the colonial paradigm. Particular attention is given to Max Jungmann’s
‘Briefe aus Neu-Neuland’, published in the satiric journal Schlemiel
between 1903–7. It is argued that with his fictitious account of the
Zionist settlement of East Africa (which historically never happened)
and with the creation of the black African Mbwapwa Jumbo and his
conversion to Judaism Jungmann articulates an intricate and critical
response to colonial aspirations, Jewish or otherwise, and formulates a
scathing but highly perceptive commentary on the convergence of Zionist,
racial, and colonial discourses.
The image of the New Woman in early Zionist literature is at present an understudied field, though there have been significant advances in recent years. This article brings together the “Woman Question” and the “Arab Question” in Zionist thought prior to the 1929 Arab riots in Palestine. When reading concurrently for race and gender, the import of rape surfaces as a trope in two of the most significant Hebrew literary works relating to the Arab Question: L.A. Arieli’s drama Allah Karim! (1912) and Aharon Reuveni’s novel Devastation (1925).
Arguably, Zionist writers carried to Palestine a deep concern about rape from the east European pogroms of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and projected this concern onto the Arab male foe. In their writings, the pioneer Zionist man’s own sexual urges (whether enervated or unruly) are put to the test: Can he properly channel his virility as he prepares to battle the Arab foe? Within this tension, I highlight how Jewish women’s roles are both controversial and pivotal in the narratives.
In the latter half of the twentieth century, tribal groups throughout Africa and Asia who regard themselves as Jews, such as the Abayudaya of South Africa and the Mizo of northern India and Burma, sought the recognition of their Jewishness by established Jewish communities in Israel and the United States. This process of recognition reflects different understandings of Jewish identity and different political agendas among the various Jewish groups who have become involved with advocacy for newly found Jews. For Israeli Jewish organizations, recognition is based on a more essentialist view of Jewishness and is oriented toward socializing newly found Jews toward Orthodox Judaism and preparation for immigration to Israel. Newer American Jewish organizations reflect greater denominational diversity and a more postmodern understanding of Jewishness as fluid and open-ended. They treat recognition as part of a commitment to Jewish diversity and multiculturalism, with less attention to traditional normative definitions of Jewish identity.
This article examines the limitations of human rights activism in a colonial context by invoking the voices, experiences, and insights of Bedouin women living in Israel. Through extensive interviews, Bedouin women living in unrecognized villages in the Naqab/Negev reveal their struggles as unrecognized and “invisible“ members of society. The article explores the ways in which the prevailing “grammar of rights“—the formal and informal mechanisms constructed and maintained by the colonial power to accord or withhold rights—delimits and confines the lives of the women, and also human rights activism. The women’s personal stories are juxtaposed against the legal justifications used to regulate and discriminate against them, as members of the indigenous Palestinian community, within the context of a “fear industry“. The article explores, from the perspective of the interviewed women, the internalization of that culture of fear, where they are constructed as the ones to be feared, and its personal, familial, and communal implications.
The interviewed women offer a critique of the existing human right framework, and question whether a human rights activism operating in a colonial context can be an emancipating force, so long as it is constrained by the regime’s rules. Furthermore, their voices assert that acknowledging historical injustice and its effect on women’s rights is central to re-thinking feminist human rights activism. The article ends by returning to the voices of women living in the unrecognized villages of the Naqab/Negev to investigate whether, and how, feminist politics and human rights activism could operationally function together within the context of Israeli state law. The article concludes that, in order to create a “grammar of rights“ that is based on equality, respect, and dignity, and which challenges the balance of power in colonial contexts, it is essential to fully include the lived experiences and insights of “invisible“ and unrecognized women.