New Article: Bar-Itzhak, Literary Representations of Haifa

Bar-Itzhak, Chen. “The Dissolution of Utopia: Literary Representations of the City of Haifa, between Herzl’s Altneuland and Later Israeli Works.” Partial Answers 14.2 (2016): 323-41.

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URL: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/621157

 

Abstract

This article traces literary depictions of the city of Haifa, starting from its utopian literary prototype in Theodor Herzl’s influential Altneuland (1902), and continuing with later Israeli writing, by Yehudit Hendel, Sami Michael, and Hillel Mittelpunkt. The article shows how the Israeli works discussed set literary Haifa as a stage for examining questions of identity, belonging, and the relations between individual and society, through an emphasis on the complex ties between language, ethnicity, and space. The literary city of these works is compared to the city of Herzl’s utopian vision. I argue that the evolution of literary Haifa is associated with shifts in Israeli collective self-perception: from the utopian mode of thought, in which difficulties and complexities remain invisible, through the gradual turning of the gaze towards the difficulties and fractures in the emergent new society (first within the Jewish society, but then also outside it — among the Arab minority); and finally, to an inability to accept the absence of utopia from the present, leading to escapism and a quest for the longed-for ideal in the pre-national past.

 

 

 

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New Book: Omer-Sherman, Imagining the Kibbutz

Omer-Sherman, Ranen. Imagining the Kibbutz. Visions of Utopia in Literature and Film. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2015.

 

978-0-271-06557-1md

URL: http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-06557-1.html

 

Abstract

In Imagining the Kibbutz, Ranen Omer-Sherman explores the literary and cinematic representations of the socialist experiment that became history’s most successfully sustained communal enterprise. Inspired in part by the kibbutz movement’s recent commemoration of its centennial, this study responds to a significant gap in scholarship. Numerous sociological and economic studies have appeared, but no book-length study has ever addressed the tremendous range of critically imaginative portrayals of the kibbutz. This diachronic study addresses novels, short fiction, memoirs, and cinematic portrayals of the kibbutz by both kibbutz “insiders” (including those born and raised there, as well as those who joined the kibbutz as immigrants or migrants from the city) and “outsiders.” For these artists, the kibbutz is a crucial microcosm for understanding Israeli values and identity. The central drama explored in their works is the monumental tension between the individual and the collective, between individual aspiration and ideological rigor, between self-sacrifice and self-fulfillment. Portraying kibbutz life honestly demands retaining at least two oppositional things in mind at once—the absolute necessity of euphoric dreaming and the mellowing inevitability of disillusionment. As such, these artists’ imaginative witnessing of the fraught relation between the collective and the citizen-soldier is the story of Israel itself.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction

1. Trepidation and Exultation in Early Kibbutz Fiction

2. “With a Zealot’s Fervor”: Individuals Facing the Fissures of Ideology in Oz, Shaham, and Balaban

3. The Kibbutz and Its Others at Midcentury: Palestinian and Mizrahi Interlopers in Utopia

4. Late Disillusionments and Village Crimes: The Kibbutz Mysteries of Batya Gur and Savyon Liebrecht

5. From the 1980s to 2010: Nostalgia and the Revisionist Lens in Kibbutz Film

Afterword: Between Hope and Despair: The Legacy of the Kibbutz Dream in the Twenty-First Century

Acknowledgments

Notes

Bibliography

Index

 

Ranen Omer-Sherman is the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence Chair of Judaic Studies at the University of Louisville.

New Book: Kaplan, Beyond Post-Zionism

Kaplan, Eran. Beyond Post-Zionism. Albany: SUNY Press, 2015.

 

Kaplan, Beyond Postzionism

 

Post-Zionism emerged as an intellectual and cultural movement in the late 1980s when a growing number of people inside and outside academia felt that Zionism, as a political ideology, had outlived its usefulness. The post-Zionist critique attempted to expose the core tenets of Zionist ideology and the way this ideology was used, to justify a series of violent or unjust actions by the Zionist movement, making the ideology of Zionism obsolete. In Beyond Post-Zionism Eran Kaplan explores how this critique emerged from the important social and economic changes Israel had undergone in previous decades, primarily the transition from collectivism to individualism and from socialism to the free market. Kaplan looks critically at some of the key post-Zionist arguments (the orientalist and colonial nature of Zionism) and analyzes the impact of post-Zionist thought on various aspects (literary, cinematic) of Israeli culture. He also explores what might emerge, after the political and social turmoil of the last decade, as an alternative to post-Zionism and as a definition of Israeli and Zionist political thought in the twenty-first century.

Eran Kaplan is Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair in Israel Studies at San Francisco State University. He is the author of The Jewish Radical Right: Revisionist Zionism and Its Ideological Legacy and coeditor (with Derek J. Penslar) of The Origins of Israel, 1882–1948: A Documentary History.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction

1. Post-Zionism in History

2. Amos Oz and the Zionist Intellectual

3. East and West on the Israeli Screen

4. Herzl and the Zionist Utopia

5. The Legacies of Hebrew Labor

Epilogue
Notes
Bibliography
Index

New Article: Abdel-Nour, The Jewish State and the Palestinian Right of Return

Abdel-Nour, Farid. “Irreconcilable Narratives and Overlapping Consensus. The Jewish State and the Palestinian Right of Return.” Political Research Quarterly 68.1 (2015): 117-27.

 

URL: http://prq.sagepub.com/content/68/1/117.abstract

 

Abstract

The Israeli demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and the Palestinian demand that Israelis recognize the Palestinian refugees’ moral right to return express the two peoples’ need to have their respective causes affirmed by the “other side.” Yet, the two causes are irreconcilable as are the core political narratives that give them meaning. The question then arises as to whether an end to the conflict can even be conceptualized, let alone implemented, with the two peoples adhering to their core narratives and expecting affirmation of their respective causes. This paper’s argument is that John Rawls’ later work contains resources that allow for such a conceptualization. An overlapping consensus over a list of common acknowledgments is possible between adherents to the two peoples’ core narratives. In that list, which is proposed in the paper, each of the two peoples can see its cause implicitly affirmed and its need for recognition met, without having to abandon its core narrative or to explicitly grant the demand for recognition made on it by the other side. Thus, the irreconcilability of narratives does not present an insurmountable obstacle to conceptualizing potentially just and stable relations between the two peoples.

New Article: Smola, Utopian Space and Time in Soviet Jewish Exodus Literature

Smola, Klavdia. “The Reinvention of the Promised Land: Utopian Space and Time in Soviet Jewish Exodus Literature.” East European Jewish Affairs 45.1 (2015): 79-108.

 

URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13501674.2015.992711

 

Abstract

The Jewish underground movement in the Soviet Union in the second half of the 1960s produced literature that became a part of the counterculture of Soviet dissent. For the first time in decades, Russian Jews identified, to a significant degree, as people of the galut (Jewish Diaspora). The battle for the return to Israel and the new Jewish renaissance in the intellectual sphere of the unofficial led to the emergence of new topographical concepts, which were inspired primarily by the Jewish cultural tradition. In fact, the exodus texts written in the 1960s–1980s represented a new, late Soviet shaping of Zionist prose. They relate to the symbol of the Promised Land as a fundamental projection of aspirations. Late Soviet Zionist texts share the traditional Jewish vision of Israel as an imagined topos of the original homeland that is both retrospective (with reference to the biblical promise of the land and the seizure of Canaan) and prospective (return and redemption). The Exodus story contained in Sefer Shemot becomes a leading poetic, philosophical and at times religiously charged metaphor of liberation and reunification. The re-strengthened collective memory of tradition required biblical symbols to be imbued with new semiotic power.

This paper will show that the historical dimension of the events dealt with in the literature often has strong mystical and mythological traits and displays messianic-apocalyptic hopes of salvation. However, alternative literary space and time models represented in the aliyah literature hereby betray their rootedness in the teleology of the communist regime. The powerful Israel utopia reflects both the eschatological time of the Soviet empire and its phantasms of paradise on earth. Late Soviet Zionism and totalitarian discourse are shown to be two space-time utopias.

 

 

New Article: Hirschhorn, The Jewish-American Makings of the West Bank Settlement of Efrat

Hirschhorn, Sara Yael. “The Origins of the Redemption in Occupied Suburbia? The Jewish-American Makings of the West Bank Settlement of Efrat, 1973–87.” Middle Eastern Studies 51.2 (2015): 269-84.

 

URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00263206.2014.941821

 

Abstract

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.

Lecture: Libman, Representation of the Kibbutz in 1950s Israel (SOAS, Nov 12, 2014)

SOAS Centre for Jewish Studies  

EVENING LECTURE PROGRAMME

Utopia, Trauma, Icon: 

Representation of the Kibbutz in 1950s Israel

 

Dr. Lior Libman, UCL

Wednesday 12 November 2014 – 5.30pm

B104, Brunei Gallery, SOAS

The foundation of the State of Israel was a moment of crisis for the kibbutz: the establishment of formal state systems, Israel’s pro-Western international orientation, and the 1948 war and the refugees it created – all obligated the kibbutz to cope with deep changes and difficult conflicts. As opposed to the dynamic history of the kibbutz, the image of the kibbutz in the kibbutz’s own literature of the time remained static, replicating the patterns of representation of the pre-State era. The kibbutz was constructed as an icon – conventional and obvious, sacred and compulsively repeating itself. In the lecture, I will claim that this image is an expression of the kibbutz’s cultural-trauma in which its self-understanding in theo-political terms, as fulfilling, in everyday life, the meta-historical Zionist-Socialist repair and salvation, was radically undermined. To exemplify this argument, I will focus on Yigal Mossinson’s 1953 kibbutz novel, A Man’s Way. I will show that this novel, often considered provocative and hostile to the kibbutz, in fact, re-affirms the utopian perception of the kibbutz, in a desperate effort to recover it. This frozen image is what bore, I maintain, the actual danger for the kibbutz; its ejection from history neutralized its political potential.

 

All Welcome. This event is free and there is no need to book

 

 

Calendar of Events: SOAS Centre for Jewish Studies Evening Lectures Series, Term 1, 2014 (London)

SOAS Centre for Jewish Studies Evening Lectures Series, Term 1, 2014

Please find below the programme for the SOAS Centre for Jewish Studies Evening Lectures Series which will run on the following Wednesdays at 17:30-19:00, in the Brunei Gallery room B104 (unless otherwise stated)
October 8 Dr. Hila Zaban (SOAS)

“Gentrification and High-Status Immigration in a Jerusalem Neighbourhood”
October 22 Leonie Fleischmann (City University London)

“Beyond Paralysis: The Transformation of Israeli Peace Activism”
November 12 Dr. Lior Libman (UCL)

“Utopia, Trauma, Icon: Representation of the Kibbutz in 1950s’ Israel”

 

November 20 

“Shadow of Baghdad”: Film Screening and Panel Discussion, will be held at KLT
November 26 Dr. Yonatan Sagiv (SOAS)

“The Gift of Debt: Agnon’s Economics of Money, God and the Real Other”

 

December 10 Yael Levy-Ariel (UCL)

“Judicial Diversity in Israel: An Empirical Analysis of Judges, Lawyers and Law Students”
Programme is attached also as pdf (click here).

Please see our website for further details about these and other events.

 

All are warmly welcomed and entrance is free of charge.