Founded primarily by Jewish-American immigrants after the 1973 Arab–Israeli war, Efrat has emerged as one of the most highly recognizable settlements in the occupied territories. Drawing on archival materials, the periodical press, and interviews never before brought to light, this article both explores the untold history of this ‘city on a hilltop’ as the product of a quadrilateral relationship between American–Israelis, the Israeli government, the native Israeli settler movement, and local Palestinian communities, as well as reconstructing the discourses in the making of Efrat, which combine religio-political imperatives alongside a deeply Americanized vision of building new, utopian, suburbanized communities in the occupied territories, during its formative years between 1973 and 1987.
The Origin of the Redemption in Occupied Suburbia?: Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and the Jewish-American Makings of the West Bank Settlement of Efrat since 1973
Dr. Sara Hirschhorn
Wednesday 28 January 2015 – 5:30-7:00pm
Room B104, Brunei Gallery SOAS
This paper explores the role of Jewish-American immigrants in establishing the prominent West Bank settlement of Efrat (1973-). It is a case-study from my forthcoming book City on a Hilltop: American Jews and the Israeli Settler Movement since 1967 (Harvard University Press) that examines the participation and discourses of the over 50,000 American-Israelis who live in the occupied territories today. Drawing on archival materials, the periodical press, and interviews never before brought to light, this article both explores the untold history of this settlement as the product of a dynamic and shifting quadrilateral relationship between American-Israelis, the Israeli government, the native Israeli settler movement, and local Palestinian communities. This cultural-intellectual history of U.S.-Israel relations highlights how and why Jewish-American immigrants imported liberal values and rhetoric drawn from their activism in social movements of the 1960s in the United States into the illiberal settlement project since the 1967 war.