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Wrapped in the Flag of Israel

Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture

Smadar Lavie
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 214
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  • Book Info
    Wrapped in the Flag of Israel
    Book Description:

    What is the relationship between social protest movements in the State of Israel, violence in Gaza, and the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran? Why did the mass social protests in the State of Israel of summer 2011 ultimately fail?Wrapped in the Flag of Israeldiscusses social protest movements from the 2003 Single Mothers' March led by Mizrahi Vicky Knafo, to the "Tahrir is Here" Israeli mass protests of summer 2011. Equating bureaucratic entanglements with pain-what, arguably, can be seen as torture, Smadar Lavie explores the conundrum of loving and staying loyal to a state that repeatedly inflicts pain on its non-European Jewish women citizens through its bureaucratic system. The book presents a model of bureaucracy as divine cosmology and posits that Israeli State bureaucracy is based on a theological essence that fuses the categories of religion, gender, and race into the foundation of citizenship.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-223-2
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. Note on Transliteration
    (pp. IX-IX)
  4. List of Illustrations
    (pp. X-XII)
  5. INTRODUCTION. Marching on Jerusalem With Israel’s Single Mothers
    (pp. 1-28)

    On 2 July 2003, Vicky Knafo, a 43-year-old single mother of three, started her march on Jerusalem wearing a black baseball cap and wrapping herself in the Israeli flag—a made-in-China rectangle of white cloth sporting twin blue stripes and the blue Star of David at its center. Her 205-kilometer (around 125 miles) pilgrimage ascended to the capital from Mitzpe Ramon, a tiny Mizrahi desert town perched upon a windswept plateau and overlooking a spectacular cirque. Remote and isolated, Mitzpe also has one of the highest unemployment rates in the State of Israel.¹

    Vicky is part of the 50 percent...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Left Is Right, Right Is Left: Zionism and Israel’s Single Mothers
    (pp. 29-67)

    On 14 May 2004, I received an e-mail from Seteney Shami, my Berkeley grad school classmate. She worked for the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) as the program director over the Middle East, North Africa, and Inter-Asia sections.

    Dear Professor Lavie,

    I am writing to ask you if you would be willing to contribute two articles to the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Women in Islamic Cultures. EWIC will be the first ever encyclopedia on this subject. The project is a five-year effort to bring together hundreds of scholars world-wide, to write critical essays on women and Islamic cultures.…

    The goal is...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Protesting and Belonging: When the Agency of Identity Politics Becomes Impossible
    (pp. 68-94)

    After divorcing her husband, Zeina Sawa‘ed, Bedouin citizen of Israel and single mother, relocated to a housing project in the largely Mizrahi town of Tiberias, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. She moved from her ancestral Palestinian village nearby. The village had zero tolerance for a single mother, let alone one without a caftan and veil. Inspired by Vicky Knafo, she embarked on her own 170-kilometer (around 105 miles) march on Jerusalem. She was impressed by the scene and returned to Tiberias to bring her three children back with her to Knafoland. On 22 July 2003, in front...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Take 1: The GendeRace Essence of Bureaucratic Torture
    (pp. 95-113)

    Israel is not the only nation-state that prioritizes its neo-liberal agenda over its disappearing middle class. Single mothers of color and their children are in the vanguard of the losing side in the globalization battle, be it in Israel or elsewhere. Social Work practice, policy, and research focus primarily on the circumstances that lead to single mothers’ reliance on welfare, the policies that maintain their disenfranchisement, and the possible actions to break them out of the poverty cycle. This is the case from both functionalist and political-economic modes of analysis. It is not my intention to analyze Israel’s welfare bureaucracy...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Take 2: Ideology, Welfare, and Single Mothers
    (pp. 114-119)

    This chapter is a “thickly described” translation of an op-ed piece I wrote with Amir Paz-Fuchs, a law colleague. It appeared in Israel’s dailyGlobes: Israel Business News, in the 16–17 July 2003 edition (Lavie and Paz-Fuchs 2003). Globes is the fourth most distributed Hebrew newspaper in Israel, and its readership is the business elite of the state. It is also the main media outlet for Israel’s neocons. Just like London’sFinancial Times, Globesis printed on pink-colored pages.Globespublishes articles that other papers, with larger Mizrahi readerships, refuse to publish, especially about the disenfranchised in Israel. The editors...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Take 3: Diary of a Welfare Mother
    (pp. 120-144)

    Take 2 was my “social-science-y” attempt to explicate pain without the feelings. Take 3 is both an embodiment and a reflection of my subaltern theorization of the GendeRace of Bureaucratic Torture and my dissociated analysis of the neo-con ideology dictating welfare policies that impact single mothers. Take 3 repeats the same story as takes 1 and 2. Take 3 attempts to capture the magical realism of the mothers’ confinement in bureaucratic webs woven together from their somatic, non-discursive experiences. My hope is that the act of writing up the nonrepresentational somatic experiences of bureaucratic torture will validate them for readers....

  11. CHAPTER 6 The Price of National Security
    (pp. 145-153)

    The Knafo struggle ended the day after the conversation with Ilana about the Israeli regime’s ethnic cleansing of Mizrahi single mothers.

    On the evening of 19 August 2003, a Palestinian suicide bomber dressed as an Orthodox Jew carried an explosive device aboard Bus #2 from the Western Wall into Jewish Jerusalem. The device detonated just past Peace Rd. #1 at the American Colony Hotel crossroad—the old 1967 border between Palestinian Jerusalem and Mizrahi Jerusalem. Three hundred meters (around 1,000 feet) away from my granny’s house.

    Twenty-three people died. Over 130 were injured. Most of the casualties were ultra-orthodox Jews....

  12. Glossary of Hebrew, Arabic, and Yiddish Terms
    (pp. 154-160)
  13. References
    (pp. 161-179)
  14. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 180-184)
  15. Index
    (pp. 185-202)