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.
Based on an examination of Israel’s territorial conceptions, strategies, and achievements since the establishment of the state, this article shows how state territoriality subsumes ideology and political agendas and may, under certain circumstances, lead the state to negate its very self-conceptions and harm its own perceived interests. Its analysis pays special attention to the state’s inadvertently produced territories of negation, which run counter to its own conception of territoriality, and considers the kind of social–spatial entities produced by the state. It also considers Israeli territoriality’s more recently asserted goal of shaping Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, in addition to the goals of controlling Jerusalem and Judaizing the Galilee and the Negev. To illustrate the theoretical assertion that discriminatory and marginalizing state territoriality has the distinct potential to bring about its own negation, the article concludes with two prominent expressions of this phenomenon. The first is manifested in green-line Israel, where the state’s territorial policies and the resulting marginalization of the Palestinian minority has resulted in collective resistance against the state and its policies, basic Jewish-Israeli symbols such as the anthem and the flag, and Israel’s very definition as a Jewish State. The second is manifested in Israel’s inadvertent creation of bi-national spaces both within Israel proper and in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, indirectly promoting the solution of a single bi-national state and posing a serious challenge to the very goals that Israeli territoriality has consistently strived to achieve.
Patrick, Andrew. America’s Forgotten Middle East Initiative: The King-Crane Commission of 1919. London: Tauris, 2015.
Sent to the Middle East by Woodrow Wilson to ascertain the viability of self-determination in the disintegrating Ottoman Empire, the King-Crane Commission of 1919 was America’s first foray into the region. The commission’s controversial recommendations included the rejection of the idea of a Jewish state in Syria, US intervention in the Middle East and the end of French colonial aspirations. The Commission’s recommendations proved inflammatory, even though its counsel on the question of the Palestinian mandate was eventually disregarded by Lloyd George and Georges Clemenceau in favour of their own national interests. In the ensuing years, the Commission’s dismissal of claims by Zionist representatives like David Ben-Gurion on their ‘right to Palestine’ proved particularly divisive, with some historians labeling it prophetic and accurate, and others arguing that Commission members were biased and ill-informed. Here, in the first book-length analysis of the King-Crane report in nearly 50 years, Andrew Patrick chronicles the history of early US involvement in the region, and challenges extant interpretations of the turbulent relationship between the United States and the Middle East.
At the turn of the 20th century, agricultural experts in several countries assembled a new agro-scientific field: dryland farming. Their agricultural research practices concomitantly fashioned a new agro-ecological zone—the drylands—as the site of agronomic intervention. As part of this effort, American scientists worked in concert with colleagues in the emerging Zionist movement to investigate agricultural practices and crops in Palestine and neighboring regions, where nonirrigated or rainfed agriculture had long been practiced. In my larger manuscript project, I consider how the reorganization of rainfed farming as dryfarming is central to the history of both the Middle East and North America, where it was closely related to modern forms of power, sovereignty, and territoriality. I suggest that American interest in dryfarming science emerged out of a practical need to propel and sustain colonization of the Great Plains, but later became a joint effort of researchers from several emerging settler enterprises, including Australia, Canada, and the Zionist movement. In contrast to a naturally ocurring bioregion, I argue that the drylands spatiality was engineered through, rather than outside, the territorialization of modern power.
In that transformative enterprise, it is enough for Rabbi Schechter that some of us live in Zion, building an Israeli culture that wrestles with issues of power and democracy, pluralism and inclusion; one that fights for social services to the poor and fights against inequities for all of Israel’s inhabitants. It suffices for Schechter that some of us are in Israel as sh’liḥim (representatives) of an entire people.
But for Schechter and for me, Jewish significance is not restricted only to what happens in Israel. The Jewish people are a living people everywhere we are, and we retain the obligations of a living people to assert ourselves in the fullness of our humanity, everywhere. For those of us who choose to live throughout the Diaspora, we have no less an obligation to re-acculturate Jewish life, to make Judaism a living language and a rhythm and a way of being, to make it a pathway toward justice among all peoples, to be able to feel a sense of harmony and identity with religions and cultures not our own, and to feel a solidarity with our own people—wherever they are.
Caspi, Zahava. “Apocalypse, Territory and Identity in Joseph Mundi’s The Ruler of Jericho and The Messiah.” Jerusalem Studies in Hebrew Literature 27 (2014): 205ff (in Hebrew).
My article deals with two of Joseph Mundi’s plays The Ruler of Jericho (1975) and The Messiah (1982). Though the first one was written after Yom Kippur War and the other seven years later, concerning the First Lebanon War – basically they treat the same topic. Both reveal the danger which is inherent in the aspiration for absolute unification between an imagined Utopian object (be it ‘the Promised Land’ or the ‘Ideal Sabra’) and its actual implementation in reality. Using two concepts which underlie every national entity – territory and identity – Mundi examines the apocalyptic implications of founding nationality upon biblical myths and utopian conceptions.
The relations between ‘place’ and ‘the place’ will be dealt through Foucault’s spatial terms: ‘Heterotopia’ as the opposite term of ‘Utopia’; and the question of Israeli identity will be explained through the concept of ‘Schizophrenia’, as used by Deleuze and Guattari. I will show that Mundi is proposing differentiality, multiplicity, and schizoidism – as defense mechanisms against the utopian desire for the ultimate.
כספי, זהבה. “אפוקליפיטקה, מרחב וזהות ב’מושל יריחו’ ו’המשיח’ מאת יוסף מונדי”. מחקרי ירושלים בספרות עברית כז (2014): 205 ואילך.
Free Zone (Amos Gitai, 2005); The Lemon Tree (Eran Riklis, 2008) and Syrian Bride (Eran Riklis, 2004), explore the Arab-Israeli conflict through women’s experience of the political and military stalemate. In presenting Palestinian, Druze, and Israeli women, these filmmakers attempt to contrast and compare women’s shared encounters, including their experience of patriarchy. While the characters may come from diametrically opposed sides, their experiences as women occlude their political differences. In these films, women are foregrounded within the plot, and have agency over their actions if not their situations. Rejecting the masculine frame that has governed representations of the conflict, these filmmakers demonstrate a new kind of approach in Israeli film that considers feminist aesthetics in the construction of character and plot, as well as the treatment of women’s physicality, gaze, territoriality, and agency.