Israel Has Moved

Israel Has Moved

Diana Pinto
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    Israel Has Moved
    Book Description:

    Born in Europe's shadow, haunted by the Holocaust, and inspired by the Enlightenment, Israel has changed. Where is this diverse and self-absorbed country heading today? How do its citizens see themselves, globally and historically? Israel Has Moved is a profound and sometimes unsettling account of a country that is no longer where we might think.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-07563-4
    Subjects: History, Sociology, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
    (pp. 1-16)

    Israel has moved. The country has changed its geographic and temporal references, its political horizons, and its cultural givens. It still occupies, of course, the same GPS geostationary coordinates in the Middle East. However, both mentally and symbolically, Israel has abandoned its Arab neighborhood, whose recent springtime revolutions with their heavy autumnal overtones never really inspired it. Even more important, the country is also in the process of forfeiting its more than 2,000-year-old anchoring—be it in symbiosis or in conflict—within the grand Western symbiosis of Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem.

    Israel today thinks of itself as living in its...

    (pp. 17-26)

    Arriving in Israel is akin to arriving at the intergalactic café in Star Wars. Everyone shows up with a clear-cut identity that will not be shed during the stay among others, before returning to his or her world of origin, through separate religious and cultural paths. George Lucas in his café had brought together a vast array of robots, strange birds, hominoids, and other surrealistic creatures. Ben-Gurion Airport in its spacious ultramodernity does the same by welcoming a vast array of humanity, well beyond its Jewish nucleus.

    The Israelis, who are only a small minority of the business-people on this...

    (pp. 27-42)

    Variable geometry begins the minute one leaves Ben-Gurion Airport to head out to Jerusalem. Two equally beautiful highways take you there. Depending on the choice made by the taxi driver, one is confronted either with the seemingly resolved complexity of the past or with the seemingly insoluble contradictions of the present.

    Taxi drivers usually take the most classical road, Highway 1, which connects Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It is an old road, parts of which were traced during the Ottoman era and further consolidated under British rule. This road follows essentially (but with significant exceptions) the curving border established after...

    (pp. 43-59)

    The yellow helmet with blues stripes surely covers a black kippah, because sidelocks (payot) are sticking out of it and floating in the wind next to a reddish-brown beard. The young man looks a bit ill at ease as he stands upright on a Segway, those strange two-wheeled contraptions endowed with a gyroscope that allow their users to circulate at a faster clip than by merely walking, and to go forward or backward by simply moving their bodies in the right direction. Entire packs of helmeted tourists, most often American, circulate in Paris and its formal gardens on such vehicles....

    (pp. 60-80)

    The man is seated behind the counter of his pottery shop reading a newspaper. There is not a customer in sight. He welcomes us with open arms, for he knows the British Jewish friend with whom I have come. She has been buying his pottery for many years for her secondary residence a few minutes away by foot in Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the first village founded outside the city walls by Moses Montefiore in the 1860s. We are inside the Armenian Quarter of the Old City, and the man is the heir to one of the most important pottery companies of...

    (pp. 81-98)

    One figure says it all. Israel has more companies listed on the NASDAQ, the high-tech stock market, than all of Europe. Everything else is only commentary.¹

    The kibbutz and the army were the two traditional pillars of historic Israel’s scientific research establishment, founded by Zionist immigrants from Europe. Their very real but also symbolic weight still conditions the two major axes of Israel’s scientific miracle: agricultural research and technological innovation linked to Israel’s military and security needs. A third axis of high technology, however, incarnates the new Israel, the one that lives in its own cyberspace well beyond its old...

    (pp. 99-111)

    The summer evening has that special freshness so unique to Jerusalem: perfect temperature, a light wind wafting the cool air as newly planted olive and cypress trees sway gently in chorus in front of the ramparts of the Old City. I am sitting at a table in a restaurant at the heart of the new Mamilla shopping mall: a vast pedestrian street that begins a few steps away from Jaffa Gate and ends by the French Saint Vincent Hospice at the beginning of Jaffa Road, the road that led to Jaffa by the sea, well before Tel Aviv had even...

  10. 7 THE BUBBLE
    (pp. 112-130)

    The sushi restaurant is on an esplanade between two impressive ultramodern towers in the ancient freight depot area of Tel Aviv. Different types of Asian colored fish swim in the aquarium, the restaurant’s most important decoration. The human aquarium is to be found sitting at the tables. Tel Aviv is no longer the young secular city whose first century was celebrated in 2009, the antithesis to eternally pious Jerusalem. Bnei Brak, the ultrareligious satellite city, home of the sages one still reads during the Passover ritual, is nearby, and besides the city already had a highly observant religious population, before...

  11. 8 THE TENT
    (pp. 131-150)

    The aquarium, the bubble, and now the tent constitute a triptych of Israel’s many faces. The tent is by far the most engaging reference, for it encompasses a population that neither lives in the country nor is its citizen: the rest of the Jewish world. During the years of triumphant Zionism, the world’s Jews were simply defined, in implicitly derogatory terms, as the Diaspora. The term has now lost popularity in Israel’s official circles, if only because Israel is far too present in the rest of the world, both in terms of its economic and political interests and in terms...

    (pp. 151-174)

    The restaurant “Little Jerusalem” is situated off of Jaffa Road on Rav Kook Street next to Mea Shearim, Jerusalem’s oldest ultraorthodox neighborhood. It is located in one of the most beautiful Ottoman houses built outside the Old City in the second half of the nineteenth century. The house is luminous and surrounded with its one balconied floor and magnificent terraced garden. Bought in the 1920s by Abraham Ticho, an important Viennese ophthalmologist and philanthropist, and his wife, Anna, a painter, the house served as Ticho’s eye clinic where the good doctor received his patients from all social classes, including the...

  13. 10 STARGATE
    (pp. 175-187)

    A circular portal, dating back several thousand years, planted in the middle of the Egyptian desert, on which are inscribed mysterious symbols all along its circumference, each pointing in a very specific direction. This is the key object in Roland Emmerich’s 1994 film subsequently turned into several cult TV series under the name Stargate. In these intergalactic series, the portal, discovered by an archeologist, turns out to have been in the distant past a key communications instrument between Earthlings and other living beings on other distant planets. The archeologist, after having decrypted the portal’s mechanism, realizes that it is still...

    (pp. 188-194)

    Throughout this book, I have referred to Israel’s “move” in symbolic and psychological terms in order to describe a country that thought of itself well beyond its still contested borders. The time has come to ask: Where exactly is Israel “moving to”?

    To a satellite in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, if one were to judge by the welcoming logo on the video screens of the 2012 Israeli “Facing Tomorrow” Presidential Conference. The eyes of the beholder zoomed in on the vast body of water halfway between the American West Coast on the right and the Chinese Coast on...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 195-212)
    (pp. 213-215)