“Who gave you the right to abandon your prophets?”

Jewish Sites of Ruins and Memory in Egypt

This article is dedicated to the cultural heritage of Jews from Egypt,1 that worked to reaffirm a collective Egyptian Jewish history and identity by preserving Egyptian Jewish architecture, primarily religious buildings, which were falling into disrepair, most often through lack of maintenance, abandonment, sale or damage. This “patrimonialisation” is driven by various actors, who nowadays constitute, in Egypt and in various diasporas, the diffracted constellations of vanished worlds and promote their “dormant” buildings and religious artefacts as living traces of a past that can no longer be associated with current practices performed by any social group in Egypt. These actors, however, do not share a same vision of how to preserve, in the short or in the long term, these emblematic sites of diasporic Judaism, witnessing both the disappearance of a world and the possibility, through the presence of its material traces, of identifying part of a past that can still be written and evoked. This paper explores the paradoxical trajectory of Jewish heritage in Egypt, between promotion, co-option, abandonment, forgetting and rejection. Caught between diverse interests and intertwined stakes, heritage became a concrete trace of the physical exclusion of the Jews (expelled from the country) and at the same time an emblem of their symbolical inclusion, given Egypt’s claim of tolerance of its many communities.

issue 16 / December 2019 by Michèle Baussant

The Israeli literary scene, particularly in the early years of the state, tended to represent the Israeli Zionist life, expressed in Eurocentric style and modes. Nevertheless, other voices and alternative narratives of the Israeli experience are heard, offering different styles and flavors, challenging the dominance of the hegemony and the ethos of mizug galuyot [merging of exiles] that negated Diasporic existence in the process of emergence of a new Hebrew people.
In this paper I wish to demonstrate how renowned Mizrahi poets cope with the boundaries of poetics in relation to the Israeli “Other.” The poets are roughly divided between “founding fathers,” who arrived to Israel as children, and younger poets of Mizrahi origins born in Israel. The paper focuses on poems that specifically deal with Mizrahi-Ashkenazi relationships, themes that continue to concern migrant poets. The chronological perspective allows considering the content of poems as well as new venue of disseminating poetry – the Internet – that enables variations of positioning oneself vis-à-vis the literary hegemonic establishment.

issue 16 / December 2019 by Esther Schely-Newman

The aim of the present article is to delineate the way the Palestinian Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic), which was one of the consequences of the 1948 War, has been portrayed in Israeli history textbooks since the establishment of the State of Israel until the present. Based on the assumption that all history textbooks can be situated between the poles of history and memory, the article examines three main factors that determine the actual place of textbooks: academic history, the dominant ideology within the ministry of education and pedagogical norms. An examination of history textbooks that have referred to the 1948 War shows that the entire time span can be divided into three periods: first period, from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s, in which the official Zionist view of the past prevailed; second, intermediary period, between the mid-1970s and the late 1990s, in which the official Zionist view was slightly modified; and a third period, between the late 1990s and the late 2010s, in which the textbooks became diversified – some presented the official Zionist version, while others presented an alternative, critical version.

issue 16 / December 2019 by Avner Ben-Amos

This paper explores ethnographically how redemption from exile and the role of the State of Israel in the Jewish redemptive process are interpreted by religious young settler activists and elaborated into new political and social visions – both in recognized statist settlements and on unrecognized hilltops. Using a mechanistic discourse analysis, I show how memories of the Jewish diaspora are mobilized to frame the state as an instrument of exile rather than as a vector of collective salvation, allowing these young settlers to construct a central role for themselves and present alternative collective messianic visions beyond or despite the state.

issue 16 / December 2019 by Perle Nicolle-Hasid

Mussolini’s Children

Race and Elementary Education in Fascist Italy

issue 16 / December 2019 by Michele Sarfatti