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Land and Desire in Early Zionism

Boaz Neumann

Publication Year: 2011

This innovative study examines the responses of early-twentieth-century pioneers to "the Land" of Palestine. Early Zionist historiography portrayed these young settlers as heroic; later, more critical studies by the "new" historians and sociologists focused on their failures and shortcomings. Neumann argues for something else that historians have yet to identify--desire. Desire for the Land and a visceral identification with it begin to explain the pioneer experience and its impact on Israeli history and collective memory, as well as on Israelis' abiding connection to the Land of Israel. His close readings of archival documents, memoirs, diaries, poetry, and prose of the period develop new understandings--many of them utterly surprising--of the Zionist enterprise. For Neumann, the Zionist revolution was an existential revolution: for the pioneers, to be in the Land of Israel was to be!

Published by: Brandeis University Press

Series

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pp. ii-

Title

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pp. iii-

Contents

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pp. vii-

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Preface

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pp. ix-x

I conducted the research for this book and wrote most of it during the second Palestinian intifada, which began late in the year 2000. It was without a doubt one of the low points in relations between Jews and their neighbors, the Palestinians, in this tract of the Promised Land. F-16 fighter planes...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-

Writing a book is always a collective endeavor. I would like to thank all my friends and colleagues who participated in writing this book by reading either some or all of the manuscript and commenting on it: Yehonatan...

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1 Pioneers and Pioneerism

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pp. 1-28

This book articulates the Zionist act of aliya and settlement in the Land of Israel by focusing on the experiences of the halutzim, or pioneers, the paradigmatic Zionists. In opposition to almost all Zionist historiography,...

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2 Desire and Rebirth

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pp. 29-49

Psychoanalytic interpretations of history are speculative in the extreme, as well as more complex than I can present here. Nevertheless, I will examine the various psychoanalytic approaches to the ecstatic-symbiotic pioneer experience at some length because almost every historiographic explanation...

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3 Dissolving Boundaries

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pp. 50-73

The Land of Israel is soil that the halutzim crave. Their desire is channeled fi rst of all through labor, working the land. All halutzim who immigrate to Palestine cultivate the land. Some do so for a few days before turning to other Zionist activities. Others make labor on the land the labor of their lives. In either case, contact with the soil through working the land is...

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4 Articulating the Physical Territory of the Land

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pp. 74-115

On earlier pages, I noted that the first of two simultaneous aspects of pioneer desire is a kind of ecstatic-symbiosis. The second aspect is that which creates boundaries. This impetus constituted the Land of Israel by delineating its territory. As we saw, Deleuze and Guattari define desire as an...

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5 Articulating the Pioneer Body

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pp. 116-149

Pioneer desire for the Land of Israel articulated the bodies-without-organs of the individual halutzim as well as the body of the Land-without-organs. For the halutzim, their exilic “old Jewish bodies” were bodies-without-organs that could not hold fast to a place. The exilic Jew was a nomad,...

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6 Pioneer Language

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pp. 150-180

When the Second Aliya pioneers arrived in the Land, they heard almost no Hebrew being spoken in the moshavot or in the cities. There, the Jews spoke Russian or “jargon”—that is, Yiddish.1 For the halutzim, reviving the Hebrew language was part of their mission, and they saw its rebirth as one...

Bibliography

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pp. 181-200

Notes

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pp. 201-242

Index

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pp. 243-250


E-ISBN-13: 9781611680157
E-ISBN-10: 1611680158

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Schusterman Series in Israel Studies

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