The Schusterman Series in Israel Studies

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The Schusterman Series in Israel Studies

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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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Israel

A History

A history of Israel in the context of the modern Jewish experience and the history of the Middle East

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Israeli Society in the Twenty-First Century

Immigration, Inequality, and Religious Conflict

Calvin Goldscheider

This volume illuminates changes in Israeli society over the past generation. Goldscheider identifies three key social changes that have led to the transformation of Israeli society in the twenty-first century: the massive immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union, the economic shift to a high-tech economy, and the growth of socioeconomic inequalities inside Israel. To deepen his analysis of these developments, Goldscheider focuses on ethnicity, religion, and gender, including the growth of ethnic pluralism in Israel, the strengthening of the Ultra-Orthodox community, the changing nature of religious Zionism and secularism, shifts in family patterns, and new issues and challenges between Palestinians and Arab Israelis given the stalemate in the peace process and the expansions of Jewish settlements.

Combining demography and social structural analysis, the author draws on the most recent data available from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics and other sources to offer scholars and students an innovative guide to thinking about the Israel of the future.

This book will be of interest to scholars and students of contemporary Israel, the Middle East, sociology, demography and economic development, as well as policy specialists in these fields. It will serve as a textbook for courses in Israeli history and in the modern Middle East.

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A Jewish Kapo in Auschwitz

History, Memory, and the Politics of Survival

Tuvia Friling

Eliezer Gruenbaum (1908–1948) was a Polish Jew denounced for serving as a Kapo while interned at Auschwitz. He was the communist son of Itzhak Gruenbaum, the most prominent secular leader of interwar Polish Jewry who later became the chairman of the Jewish Agency’s Rescue Committee during the Holocaust and Israel’s first minister of the interior. In light of the father’s high placement in both Polish and Israeli politics, the denunciation of the younger Gruenbaum and his suspicious death during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war add intrigue to a controversy that really centers on the question of what constitutes—and how do we evaluate—moral behavior in Auschwitz.

Gruenbaum—a Jewish Kapo, a communist, an anti-Zionist, a secularist, and the son of a polarizing Zionist leader—became a symbol exploited by opponents of the movements to which he was linked. Sorting through this Rashomon-like story within the cultural and political contexts in which Gruenbaum operated, Friling illuminates key debates that rent the Jewish community in Europe and Israel from the 1930s to the 1960s.

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Land and Desire in Early Zionism

Boaz Neumann

Winner of the Azrieli Award for Best Book in Israel Studies

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!

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Oriental Neighbors

Middle Eastern Jews and Arabs in Mandatory Palestine

Abigail Jacobson

Focusing on Oriental Jews and their relations with their Arab neighbors in Mandatory Palestine, this book analyzes the meaning of the hybrid Arab-Jewish identity that existed among Oriental Jews, and discusses their unique role as political, social, and cultural mediators between Jews and Arabs. Integrating Mandatory Palestine and its inhabitants into the contemporary Semitic-Levantine surroundings, Oriental Neighbors illuminates broad areas of cooperation and coexistence, which coincided with conflict and friction, between Oriental and Sephardi Jews and their Arab neighbors. The book brings the Oriental Jewish community to the fore, examines its role in the Zionist nation-building process, and studies its diverse and complex links with the Arab community in Palestine.

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Palestine between Politics and Terror, 1945–1947

Motti Golani

British General Sir Allan Cunningham was appointed in 1945 as high commissioner of Palestine, and served in this capacity until the end of the British mandate on May 15, 1948. The three years of Cunningham's tenure were tremendously complex politically: players included the British government in London, the British army, the British administration in Jerusalem, and diverse military forces within the Zionist establishment, both Jew and Arab. Golani revisits this period from the perspective of the high commissioner, examining understudied official documents as well as Cunningham's letters, notes, and cables. He emphasizes especially the challenges of navigating Jewish and Arab terrorists, on the one hand, and the multiple layers of British institutional bureaucracies, on the other, and does an excellent job of establishing Sir Allan's daily trials within the broad frame of the collapse of the British Empire following World War II.

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The Rise of the Individual in 1950s Israel

A Challenge to Collectivism

A provocative history of Israeli society in the 1950s that demonstrates how a voluntarist collectivism gave way to an individualist ethos In this sharply argued volume, Orit Rozin reveals the flaws in the conventional account of Israeli society in the 1950s, which portrayed the Israeli public as committed to a collectivist ideology. In fact, major sectors of Israeli society espoused individualism and rejected the state-imposed collectivist ideology. Rozin draws on archival, legal, and media sources to analyze the attitudes of black-market profiteers, politicians and judges, middle-class homemakers, and immigrants living in transit camps and rural settlements. Part of a refreshing trend in recent Israeli historiography to study the voices, emotions, and ideas of ordinary people, Rozin’s book provides an important corrective to much extant scholarly literature on Israel’s early years.

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Self as Nation

Contemporary Hebrew Autobiography

Tamar S. Hess

Theorists of autobiography tend to emphasize the centrality of the individual against the community. By contrast, in her reading of Hebrew autobiography, Tamar Hess identifies the textual presence and function of the collective and its interplay with the Israeli self. What characterizes the ten writers she examines is the idea of a national self, an individual whose life story takes on meaning from his or her relation to the collective history and ethos of the nation. Her second and related argument is that this self—individually and collectively—must be understood in the context of waves of immigration to Israel’s shores. Hess convincingly shows that autobiography is a transnational genre deeply influenced by the nation’s literary as well as cultural history.

This book makes an additional contribution to the history of autobiography and contemporary autobiography theory by analyzing the strategies of fragmentation that many of the writers Hess studies have adopted as ways of dealing with the conflicts between the self and the nation, between who they feel they are and what they are expected to be. Hess contrasts the predominantly masculine tradition of Hebrew autobiography with writings by women, and offers a fresh understanding of the Israeli soul and the Hebrew literary canon.

A systematic review of contemporary Hebrew autobiography, this study raises fundamental questions essential to the debates about identity at the heart of Israeli culture today. It will interest scholars and students of contemporary Israeli culture, as well as those intrigued by the literary genre of autobiography.

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Year Zero of the Arab-Israeli Conflict 1929

Hillel Cohen

In late summer 1929, a countrywide outbreak of Arab-Jewish-British violence transformed the political landscape of Palestine forever. In contrast with those who point to the wars of 1948 and 1967, historian Hillel Cohen marks these bloody events as year zero of the Arab-Israeli conflict that persists today.

The murderous violence inflicted on Jews caused a fractious—and now traumatized—community of Zionists, non-Zionists, Ashkenazim, and Mizrachim to coalesce around a unified national consciousness arrayed against an implacable Arab enemy. While the Jews unified, Arabs came to grasp the national essence of the conflict, realizing that Jews of all stripes viewed the land as belonging to the Jewish people.

Through memory and historiography, in a manner both associative and highly calculated, Cohen traces the horrific events of August 23 to September 1 in painstaking detail. He extends his geographic and chronological reach and uses a non-linear reconstruction of events to call for a thorough reconsideration of cause and effect. Sifting through Arab and Hebrew sources—many rarely, if ever, examined before—Cohen reflects on the attitudes and perceptions of Jews and Arabs who experienced the events and, most significantly, on the memories they bequeathed to later generations. The result is a multifaceted and revealing examination of a formative series of episodes that will intrigue historians, political scientists, and others interested in understanding the essence—and the very beginning—of what has been an intractable conflict.

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