Abstract

ABSTRACT:

This paper brings together two aspects of state formations that are rarely considered in unison, emblems and public secrets, and examines the semiotic processes that relate them. It considers these processes in tours given by a prominent organization, called El-Ad, that works to settle Jewish-Israelis in occupied East Jerusalem, and in particular in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan. El-Ad claims that it has returned the Israeli state to Silwan, and seeks to substantiate this through a variety of practices used on tours of the biblical archaeological site known as the City of David. While the City of David site is associated with the biblical narratives of King David and the first Jewish kingdom, I show how El-Ad selectively reveals the secret history of its settlement on tour as well. To do so, I describe the discursive marking of this secret history, and, in particular, I review how the director of El-Ad, David Be'eri, retold to tour guides the organization's foundational narrative in the genre of an intelligence operation. I end by discussing how El-Ad tours of the City of David archaeological site narrate this secret history of settlement, as a means to normalize the occupation. Drawing on theories of the state, secrets and entextualizing practices, I argue that state emblems are key to understanding the masking effects of statecraft.

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