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Palestine and Jewish History: Criticism at the Borders of Ethnography

Copyright Date: 1996
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Palestine and Jewish History
    Book Description:

    This provocative and personal series of meditations on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict argues that it represents a struggle not as much about land and history as about space, time, and memory. Palestine and Jewish History enacts rather than reports on Bo

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8722-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction: Old Things
    (pp. 1-25)

    From my Jerusalem fieldwork diary, September 7, 1991: “Charles [my friend from college, now living in Jerusalem] told me about a story Chana Hacohen told about herself at a party in the neighborhood. She had asked somebody what the verblezakenmeans, because she kept hearing men in the street shouting, “Al tezaken.” What they were actually saying, of course, was “Alte zakhen,” “old things,” which they buy and resell. This is a classic nostalgia figure of immigrant Jewish life, both here and in America — thealte zakhenman, but only in Israel do people of my generation still...

  4. 1 My Trip to Israel: Beginning
    (pp. 26-39)

    Getting on the plane, to Paris and then Tel Aviv. Writing with a small, yellow, lined tablet picked up at the airport, self-consciously, feeling very amateurish, feeling like a high school kid who wants to be a writer. Well, I’ve been saying to myself for days that this project is deliberately unprofessional.

    Charles de Gaulle Airport, waiting for my transfer flight to Israel. At the airport café here, I ask the counterman if I can pay for acafé crèmeand a croissant with a five-dollar bill. He says yes, but he can’t give me change. I say, in that...

  5. 2 Reading Exodus into History
    (pp. 40-67)

    In an earlier essay in my bookStorm from Paradise(J. Boyarin 1992: 116–29) on the shifting significance of Palestine as the ground of Jewish historical identity, I broached several critical questions, one of which was phrased as follows: “What are the grander links among the ancient Jewish state, the Western cultural complex of ‘Zion’ through the Bible, traditional Jewish culture in the modern period, Zionism, and what I will call here a post-modern ideal of diaspora?” Here I will be considering the link between only two of those elements: the use of the Exodus–Promised Land narrative in...

  6. 3 My Trip to Israel, Continued
    (pp. 68-193)

    Let’s face it — the Israeli “right wing” and “center” are probably going to be about as well represented in this diary as are the Occupied Territories, if that, the one distortion being a matter of personal bias, the other a matter of situational restraint.

    This afternoon: I’m off for a long walk. Now I’m on — I think — Ramban Street in Rechavia (not a neighborhood of people who especially appreciate the Ramban,¹ but then I imagine most people here don’t give as much thought to street names as I do). The neighborhood is astonishingly lush, with a dozen...

  7. 4 In Search of “Israeli Identity”: Anecdotes and Afterthoughts
    (pp. 194-206)

    The sharpening in recent years of the conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs should not be taken as evidence that the two identities are fixed or frozen irrevocably into what are sometimes called “tribalist” positions. I’d like to give a few pointed examples of the way these ethnic boundaries are rhetorically reshaped, reinvented, and often subverted as well. Beyond the case discussed here, my suggestion is that if national identities are imagined with a good deal of self-consciousness, people might learn to imagine their collectives in ways that are less dependent on exclusion and, beyond tolerance, actively rely on...

  8. 5 Enough Already with My Trip to Israel
    (pp. 207-237)

    I broke off from struggling with my paper about 7:30 Thursday evening, because I’d promised Yosef Shtrigler that I’d come to the Simchas Beis Hashoeva one night during the intermediate days of Sukkot.¹ Yosef was out when I arrived on time at 8:30: he’d been to ashmues² given by the Rosh Yeshiva. Meanwhile I sat in the sukkah and ate a large, greasy, thin, and delicious potato latke made by Yosef’s wife, and I listened in some astonishment to Zalmen and the younger boy playing and joking in Yiddish. Zalmen was imitating some older man: “Do you know how...

  9. 6 Ruins, Mounting toward Jerusalem
    (pp. 238-252)

    This chapter deals primarily with the heritage of Palestinian dispossession — a history that constitutes an unmasterable past (see Maier 1988), for Israeli Jews and for all Jews, insofar as they identify with the State of Israel. This past that is not yet mastered is not over. It is still happening. It is meet therefore that my text be less than masterful. I will not conceal the fact that my “activity is one of arranging” (Benjamin 1977: 179). Any such presentation is nothing more nor less than a fragment of a continuing discussion.

    I begin then not with the destruction...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 253-265)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 266-266)