• Just Like Democracy: Ethnography of Realpolitik in a City of Immigrants

    The goal of this paper is to open a new space for understanding political culture “after orientalism,” in polycultural, liberal societies. Relying on three years of ethnographic research (2001–04) at the Likud party chapter in the immigrant city of Ashdod, I present an ethnography of citizenship in action. I argue that at the point where citizenship as an ideal type meets immigrants from developing countries, people mimic and utilize citizenship as a way to support their social mobility. Ideology becomes ID-ology and stands in the center of a new political culture that is neither Occidental nor Oriental.
    This new culture of citizenship is formed in three stages: first, the immigrants adopt and approve the Occidental perception of citizenship that fits the Occidental imagination of citizenship; second, the Likud party members distinguish between form and content, loading the “appropriate” definition of citizenship with new content and new ways of interpretation that promote their purpose of socially mobilizing themselves and taking over positions of power; and third, new political cultures of citizenship occupy the city hall. The new citizenship resembles Occidental citizenship, but uses a different toolbox for power accumulation and new methods of interpretation.

  • The Orient in the Literature of the Haskalah: A Levantine Reading in Euchel, Löwisohn and Mapu

    This paper explores Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) literature representations of the Orient. Focusing on key Haskalah figures—Isaac Euchel, Solomon Löwisohn, and Abraham Mapu—the article asks how the discursive presence of the Orient influenced Haskalah literature’s definition of modernity and secularity, and provides a comprehensive analysis of the various literary tropes and figures (such as the beautiful, the sublime, oriental despotism, paganism) used by maskilic authors for either coping with or repressing the Orient in their work. The article argues that modern Hebrew literature’s embrace of humanistic western culture is highly ambivalent, and that the regnant historiography of Hebrew literature did not address this ambivalence properly. The  history of modern Hebrew letters is viewed less as a modern framework for overcoming or containing the rivals of modernity and enlightenment (among others, the Orient) and more as an uneven field, fraught with contradictory expressions of religious, exilic, and oriental resistance to the secularist and Eurocentric stance, that still dominate the study of Hebrew literary history.