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Area and Ethnic Studies > Middle Eastern Studies

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Becoming Israeli Cover

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Becoming Israeli

National Ideals and Everyday Life in the 1950s

Anat Helman

With a light touch and many wonderful illustrations, historian Anat Helman investigates “life on the ground” in Israel during the first years of statehood. She looks at how citizens—natives of the land, longtime immigrants, and newcomers—coped with the state’s efforts to turn an incredibly diverse group of people into a homogenous whole. She investigates the efforts to make Hebrew the lingua franca of Israel, the uses of humor, and the effects of a constant military presence, along with such familiar aspects of daily life as communal dining on the kibbutz, the nightmare of trying to board a bus, and moviegoing as a form of escapism.  In the process Helman shows how ordinary people adapted to the standards and rules of the political and cultural elites and negotiated the chaos of early statehood.

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Becoming Turkish

Nationalist Reforms and Cultural Negotiations in Early Republican Turkey, 1923-1945

by Hale Yilmaz

“Becoming Turkish” seeks to provide a better understanding of the modernist nation-building processes in post-Ottoman Turkey through a rare perspective in the field that stresses the social and cultural dimensions and everyday negotiations that occurred during the leadership of Mustafa Kemal. Employing an interdisciplinary approach and drawing on a wide range of primary sources, including new archival evidence and oral histories, Yilmaz’s work delineates several specific examples of how individuals become Turkish citizens. She examines how Republican reforms were implemented and how they effected social and cultural change. By focusing on four specific areas of the state’s attempt to produce a new “Turk” and a modern Turkish nation (men’s clothing, women’s dress, language, and celebrations), she shows how individuals and communities received, reacted to, negotiated, and experienced reforms in their everyday lives. While the emphasis of the book is on the Turkish experience specifically, “Becoming Turkish” offers rich insights into similar processes throughout the Middle East and in other Islamic and colonial contexts which will arguably become more relevant every day.

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The Berber Identity Movement and the Challenge to North African States

By Bruce Maddy-Weitzman

Like many indigenous groups that have endured centuries of subordination, the Berber/Amazigh peoples of North Africa are demanding linguistic and cultural recognition and the redressing of injustices. Indeed, the movement seeks nothing less than a refashioning of the identity of North African states, a rewriting of their history, and a fundamental change in the basis of collective life. In so doing, it poses a challenge to the existing political and sociocultural orders in Morocco and Algeria, while serving as an important counterpoint to the oppositionist Islamist current. This is the first book-length study to analyze the rise of the modern ethnocultural Berber/Amazigh movement in North Africa and the Berber diaspora. Bruce Maddy-Weitzman begins by tracing North African history from the perspective of its indigenous Berber inhabitants and their interactions with more powerful societies, from Hellenic and Roman times, through a millennium of Islam, to the era of Western colonialism. He then concentrates on the marginalization and eventual reemergence of the Berber question in independent Algeria and Morocco, against a background of the growing crisis of regime legitimacy in each country. His investigation illuminates many issues, including the fashioning of official national narratives and policies aimed at subordinating Berbers in an Arab nationalist and Islamic-centered universe; the emergence of a counter-movement promoting an expansive Berber “imagining” that emphasizes the rights of minority groups and indigenous peoples; and the international aspects of modern Berberism.

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Best School in Jerusalem

Annie Landau's School for Girls, 1900-1960

Laura S. Schor

Annie Edith (Hannah Judith) Landau (1873-1945), born in London to immigrant parents and educated as a teacher, moved to Jerusalem in 1899 to teach English at the Anglo-Jewish Association's Evelina de Rothschild School for Girls. A year later she became its principal, a post she held for forty-five years. As a member of Jerusalem's educated elite, Landau had considerable influence on the city's cultural and social life, often hosting parties that included British Mandatory officials, Jewish dignitaries, Arab leaders, and important visitors. Her school, which provided girls of different backgrounds with both a Jewish and a secular education, was immensely popular and often had to reject candidates, for lack of space.

A biography of both an extraordinary woman and a thriving institution, this book offers a lens through which to view the struggles of the nascent Zionist movement, World War I, poverty and unemployment in the Yishuv, and the relations between the religious and secular sectors and between Arabs and Jews, as well as Landau's own dual loyalties to the British and to the evolving Jewish community.

Better Story, The Cover

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Better Story, The

Queer Affects from the Middle East

Illuminates the emotional significance of stories in response to racial traumas related to the Middle East.

Between Jew and Arab Cover

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Between Jew and Arab

The Lost Voice of Simon Rawidowicz

David N. Myers

This book brings new attention to Simon Rawidowicz (1897-1957), the wide-ranging Jewish thinker and scholar who taught at Brandeis University in the 1950s. At the heart of Myers' book is a chapter that Rawidowicz wrote as a coda to his Hebrew tome Babylon and Jerusalem (1957) but never published. In it, Rawidowicz shifted his decades-long preoccupation with the "Jewish Question" to what he called the "Arab Question." Asserting that the "Arab Question" had become a most urgent political and moral matter for Jews after 1948, Rawidowicz called for an end to discrimination against Arabs resident in Israel--and more provocatively, for the repatriation of Arab refugees from 1948.

Myers' book is divided into two main sections. Part I introduces the life and intellectual development of Rawidowicz. It traces the evolution of his thinking about the "Jewish Question," namely, the status of Jews as a national minority in the Diaspora. Part II concentrates on the shift occasioned by the creation of the State of Israel, when Jews assumed political sovereignty and entered into a new relationship with the native Arab population. Myers analyzes the structure, content, and context of Rawidowicz's unpublished chapter on the "Arab Question," paying particular attention to Rawidowicz's calls for an end to discrimination against Arabs in Israel, on the one hand, and for the repatriation of those refugees who left Palestine in 1948, on the other.

The volume also includes a full English translation of "Between Jew and Arab," a timeline of significant events, and an appendix of official legal documents from Israel and the international community pertaining to the conflict.

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Between Ruin and Restoration

An Environmental History of Israel

Edited by Daniel E. Orenstein, Alon Tal, and Char Miller

The environmental history of Israel is as intriguing and complex as the nation itself. Situated on a mere 8,630 square miles, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf, varying from desert to forest, Israel’s natural environment presents innumerable challenges to its growing population. The country’s conflicted past and present, diverse religions, and multitude of cultural influences powerfully affect the way Israelis imagine, question, and shape their environment. Zionism, from the late nineteenth onward, has tempered nearly every aspect of human existence. Scarcities of usable land and water coupled with border conflicts and regional hostilities have steeled Israeli’s survival instincts. As this volume demonstrates, these powerful dialectics continue to undergird environmental policy and practice in Israel today. Between Ruin and Restoration assembles leading experts in policy, history, and activism to addresses Israel’s continuing environmental transformation from the biblical era to the present and beyond, with a particular focus on the past one hundred and fifty years. The chapters also reflect passionate public debates over meeting the needs of Israel’s population and preserving its natural resources. The chapters detail the occupations of the Ottoman Empire and British colonialists in eighteenth and nineteenth century Palestine, as well as Fellaheen and pastoralist Bedouin tribes, and how they shaped much of the terrain that greeted early Zionist settlers. Following the rise of the Zionist movement, the rapid influx of immigrants and ensuing population growth put new demands on water supplies, pollution controls, sanitation, animal populations, rangelands and biodiversity, forestry, marine policy, and desertification. Additional chapters view environmental politics nationally and internationally, the environmental impact of Israel’s military, and considerations for present and future sustainability.

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Between the Flag and the Banner

Women in Israeli Politics

This first comprehensive study of the political life of Israeli women looks at political participation, political identity, women's political organizations, and public policy regarding women. Because Israel has endured perennial armed conflict, its national agenda places overriding importance on national security and family life. At the same time, Israel is a democracy that fosters equality for all its citizens. Thus Israeli women are caught in a dilemma: whether to show allegiance to the national cause or to raise the banner of feminism and focus on women’s rights. This book presents a broad perspective on the political life of Israeli women, both Jewish and non-Jewish. It is the first book to explore Israeli women’s political participation, political identity, and political organizations, as well as public policy toward women. Situating Israel in a comparative theoretical framework, Yael Yishai focuses on the enduring tension between women’s drive for power and their desire to belong and integrate from within.

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Between the Middle East and the Americas

The Cultural Politics of Diaspora

Ella Habiba Shohat

Between the Middle East and the Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora traces the production and circulation of discourses about "the Middle East" across various cultural sites, against the historical backdrop of cross-Atlantic Mahjar flows. The bo

Books on Israel, Volume I Cover

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Books on Israel, Volume I

Books on Israel provides professional students of Israel and the general public with an informative and up-to-date survey of books and ideas about Israeli society—ethnic relations, religious life, cultural trends, history, politics, and literature. Included in this volume are Nissim Rejwan’s fascinating discussion of books on Israel published in the Arab world; Avner Yaniv’s analysis of changing Israeli ideas about security and military strategy; Don Peretz’s discussion of scholarship on Arab-Jewish relations; Ben Halpern’s profile of Yitzhak Tabenkin and Berl Katznelson, and Ian Lustick’s provocative critique of Eisenstadt’s The Transformation of Israel.

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