View Cart “Returning for a Visit: Rural Migrants and Social Change in Mandatory Palestine” has been added to your cart.
  • Breaking Boundaries, Bricking Walls: Oriental, Sephardi, and European Jews in a Late Ottoman Palestinian Classroom

    This article explores the relations between European Zionists, Sephardim, and Oriental Jews in late Ottoman Palestine by narrating the story of A. Yehudai, a Bulgarian Jewish teacher in the Sephardi community of Gaza in 1913. Reading through Yehudai’s ambitions, deliberations, and frustrations, the article makes two main arguments: First, it challenges the inclusivity often attributed in scholarly literature to the category of “Sephardi,” suggesting that as a practical category used by historical figures, especially in the context of national discourses, it was regarded as much more bounded and rigid. Second, the article points to the period before European Zionist domination over Middle Eastern Jews. Through the case of late Ottoman Gaza, the article shows that Jewish communities in Palestine were essential for institutional Zionist bodies, were aware of their situation, and even used this power structure for their own gain. Taken together, both arguments testify to the fact that communal demarcations are essential for human society in the sense that the crossing of boundaries always entails the delineation of new ones.

  • Constructing the Boundaries of Social Consciousness under Conditions of War: The Urban Jewish Society in Eretz Yisrael/Palestine during World War I

    The paper deals with the impact of World War I on the construction of new social boundaries and social consciousness within urban Jewish societies in Palestine. The paper’s main contention is that changes in definitions of social boundaries are not merely a reaction to changing conditions—they also involve an active structuring process by elite groups. In the case examined here, New Yishuv public leaders made efforts to place the social discourse within the framework of the national discourse by, for example, influencing the conscious experience and understanding of everyday life. The study examines changes in the way social definitions were used to construct social consciousness, particularly the use of the definitions of “Old Yishuv” and “New Yishuv” to differentiate between nonnationalists and nationalists.

  • Individuals in Mobilized Hebrew Society: The Meanings of Setting Limits in the Diaries of the Teacher Z. (1938-1940)

    Mobilized society exists when a common goal is shared by masses who contribute with genuine involvement to its achievement. A mobilized Hebrew society existed in Eretz Yisrael before 1948. Many individuals had difficulty conforming to the “emotional regime” imposed by the mobilized society, which tolerated the existence of individual sentiments but not an individual’s particular desires, unless they were in line with its common ethos. The result was reflected in efforts to delineate borders between the emotional regime of the mobilized society and the individuals’ emotional refuges. The craving to preserve the emotional refuge as a complement rather than an alternative to the emotional regime was reflected by moments of personal crisis followed by deep sentiments of guilt. The article illustrates the reflections of such attitudes through the diaries of the teacher Z. during an eighteen-month period (July 1938–January 1940). Z. was a teacher of mathematics in Haifa’s Reali high school. The diaries, which are part of a private collection, are a clear reflection of Z.’s efforts to become a member of an emotional community while creating a separate, individual emotional refuge.

  • Names under Supervision: Israeli Linguistic Regulation of Arab Streets – Turʿan as a Case Study

    The present article contributes to the local study of street signs, and more generally, of majority and minority language representation. It analyzes the street signs set up by the Turʿan municipality in the North of Israel during the term of the town’s Jewish mayor Yaakov Zohar (2008-2013), shedding light on the impact of top-down political processes on the design of Arab space, its interpretation by a municipality headed by an agent of the establishment, and the namings’ implications for the Arab minority’s spatial socialization. Through the names selected and the visual and orthographic characteristics of the linguistic landscape, the article highlights the politics of shaping cultural and historical identity in physical space. The visual characteristics examined are related to the visibility of the two languages—Arabic and Hebrew—or more specifically, to the representation of one as opposed to the deliberate marginalization of the other. My reading of street signs is informed by critical toponymy and semiotics, which emphasize the ideological meanings inherent in the depth structures of names and visual communication products. I consider the initiative by a Jewish mayor to name the streets of Arab Turʿan an attempt to influence the spatial awareness of its Arab inhabitants in keeping with the values of the establishment.

  • Returning for a Visit: Rural Migrants and Social Change in Mandatory Palestine

    The article examines aspects of urbanization in Palestinian society under the British Mandate by observing connections rural migrants in Haifa maintained with their villages of origin. The first section reviews three factors that influenced the frequency of visits: connections with family members who remained in the village of origin, the maintenance of rights to property in the village, and road infrastructure and the means of transportation. The second section presents several changes generated by material culture brought back to the village by rural migrants. Based on this analysis I argue that rural migrants were extremely important agents in the transition of Palestinian society to modernity. They distributed information, material culture, and practices perceived as “urban.” At the same time, their lives illustrate the dominance of kinship relations in the village. This tension between aspects of urbanization—as part of the transition to modernity—and continuity of the patriarchal social order, was part of the Palestinian experience of “being modern.”