Wrapped in the Flag of Israel

Wrapped in the Flag of Israel

Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture, Revised Edition

Smadar Lavie
With a new afterword by the author

Expanding Frontiers: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Series

336 pages
21 photographs, glossary, index

Paperback

July 2018

978-1-4962-0554-4

$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

July 2018

978-1-4962-0750-0

$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

July 2018

978-1-4962-0748-7

$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

In Wrapped in the Flag of Israel, Smadar Lavie analyzes the racial and gender justice protest movements in the State of Israel from the 2003 Single Mothers’ March to the 2014 New Black Panthers and explores the relationships between these movements, violence in Gaza, and the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran.

Lavie equates bureaucratic entanglements with pain—and, arguably, torture—in examining a state that engenders love and loyalty among its non-European Jewish women citizens while simultaneously inflicting pain on them. Weaving together memoir, auto-ethnography, political analysis, and cultural critique, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel presents a model of bureaucracy as divine cosmology that is both lyrical and provocative. Lavie’s focus on the often-minimized Mizraḥi population juxtaposed with the state’s monolithic culture suggests that Israeli bureaucracy is based on a theological notion that inserts the categories of religion, gender, and race into the foundation of citizenship.

In this revised and updated edition Lavie connects intra-Jewish racial and gendered dynamics to the 2014 Gaza War, providing an extensive afterword that focuses on the developments in Mizraḥi feminist politics and culture between 2014 and 2016 and its relation to Palestinians.  

Author Bio

Smadar Lavie spent nine years as a tenured professor of anthropology at the University of California, Davis, and is currently a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley’s Department of Ethnic Studies and a visiting professor at the Institute for Social Science in the Twenty-First Century at University College Cork, Ireland. She is the author and coeditor of several books, including The Poetics of Military Occupation: Mzeina Allegories of Bedouin Identity under Israeli and Egyptian Rule. The first edition of Wrapped in the Flag of Israel won honorable mention from the Association of Middle East Women’s Studies and was a finalist for the Clifford Geertz Prize from the Society for the Anthropology of Religion. Lavie won the 2009 Gloria Anzaldúa Prize from the American Studies Association.

 

Praise

“Thick, accusative, and critical, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel is indeed a must-read for all.”—Anne de Jong, American Anthropologist

“Important and provocative. . . . Recommended to researchers, postgraduate students, and undergraduates who are interested in Israel/Palestine, political protest, discrimination, and the anthropology of the state.”—Tobias Kelly, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

“Incredibly insightful conceptually but also powerful politically. It does not merely challenge conceptual frameworks and academic canons but actively undoes them through shifting and diverse modes of writing.”—Adi Kuntsman, Journal of Middle Eastern Women’s Studies

“Engaging and insightful. . . . The book makes an important contribution to the literature, demonstrating that throughout the history of Israel, the Jewish immigrants of European descent have retained their privileged socioeconomic position and maintained claims to cultural superiority over communities coming from Asia and the Middle East. Wrapped in the Flag of Israel is an important ethnography of Mizrahi women and an excellent addition to anthropology of Israel.”—Yulia Egorova, American Ethnologist

“Lavie’s study is solid, scrupulously researched and documented and has the ring of truth that comes from the personal experience of a researcher who has had to live through her fieldwork situation in a manner that few anthropologists experience. . . . Lavie has created a text whose insights and analysis extend far beyond her admirable Israeli study.”—William O. Beeman, Anthropological Quarterly

“Lavie raises important questions about victimhood and agency pertinent to the study of the subaltern. . . . This book is not just a unique contribution to understanding gender and race in state bureaucracy and the operations of nationalism in the Middle East; it will interest anyone studying the disenfranchised and their everyday life, something that almost always involves ‘bureaucratic torture.’ . . . Wrapped in the Flag of Israel exposes how inhumanity can be normalized and can thrive in any modern liberal democracy.”—Sealing Cheng, Asian Anthropology

“Lavie’s meticulous ethnographic work and pointed theoretical analysis explain the hopelessness of social protest and problematize the concept of agency in the context of intra-Jewish conflict in Israel; in this Lavie also addresses the ramifications of Mizrahi marginalization on the wider Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”—Shoshana Madmoni-Gerber, Cultural Studies

“Lavie illustrates how asking difficult, troubling questions that disturb taken-for-granted silences can be an important strategy of resistance. In doing so, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel offers theoretical and political insights that extend beyond Israel’s undeclared borders.”—Simona SharoniJournal of Palestine Studies

“Lavie has written a brave and scholarly auto-ethnography using an extended case study method, of a social movement in contemporary Israel. . . . With theoretical sophistication and granular accounts of day-to-day struggles of her own and other single mothers’ efforts to survive and gain access to resources and entitlements as Israelis . . . This is a painful account well worth reading. Social workers from many nations who are involved in difficult macro- and mezzo-practice would find illuminating the many elements of social movement activity and peer-group support that Lavie characterizes and theorizes so powerfully.”—Barbara Levy Simon, Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work

“At the crossroads between a coursebook, a piece of writing about life and a feminist manifesto, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel . . . [is] both an enlightening insight into Israeli intra-racism and an original and valuable connection between two seemingly unrelated concepts: bureaucracy and torture.”—Sorina GeorgescuHypercultura

“Rarely one encounters a comprehensive, nuanced, insightful, and realistic exposition on Israeli society packaged in such a slim book. Wrapped in the Flag of Israel is such a research and book. The work is extraordinary, imaginative, and creative; it is a fruitful presentation of the anthropological imagination’s tremendous abilities to see a social world encapsulated in a drop of ‘fieldwork.’ Indeed, this is a tour de force of the unique abilities reserved to anthropology’s insight production.”—Meir Amor, Arab Studies Quarterly

“Far from traditional anthropology, Lavie’s work is a contribution to the legacy of women of color feminist works of auto-ethnography and documentations of affect in poetic and scholarly prose. . . . Readers will encounter worlds of knowledge placed in proximity, affinity, and opposition, resulting in a dynamic narrative and an informative, academic text. . . . A masterwork of transnational feminist studies and critical theory, a teachable work of feminist anti-Zionism from the perspective of a Mizrahi welfare mother and critical scholar—the like of which does not exist.”—Brooke Lober, Feminist Formations

“Lavie makes an important contribution in challenging traditional methods of ethnographic research and emphasizing the necessity of subaltern auto-ethnography, particularly in the study of marginalized groups. . . . While we should not disregard studies that emphasize the positive potential of mobilization, Lavie makes an important step in explaining a case where such mobilization was not only unsuccessful but never had the possibility of creating change. Scholars of social movements should follow her lead.”—Leonie Fleischmann, Peace and Change

“[Lavie’s] unflinching exposure of intra-Jewish racism and its political consequences is unmatched.”—Sally Bland, The Jordan Times

“[Lavie’s] compelling account defies conventional labels for ethnography by combining elements of auto-ethnography, memoir, testimonial, cultural critique, extended case study, Bakhtinian contrapunct, and the reflexive essay style of critical race feminists. . . . [A] courageous intervention of substantive, theoretical, and methodological significance.”—Faye V. Harrison, professor of African American studies and anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and president of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences

“Smadar Lavie offers a bracing alternative to the ‘Jewish Disneyland’ image of Israel in her book Wrapped in the Flag of Israel. The book documents the lived experience of women in Israeli society—from the feminist-of-color movement to the politics of funding NGOs to the role of the bureaucracy of the state. Using a combination of deep anthropological research and the personal narratives of Mizrahi single mothers, Lavie effectively challenges preconceptions about Jewish Israeli society, and in so doing, exposes the lopsided structures of power and privilege between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews in Israel. Understanding Israel’s intra-Jewish racism and its impact on families is crucial to any just solution for the people of Israel/Palestine.”—Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace

Table of Contents

Note on Transliteration    

Introduction: Marching on Jerusalem with Israel’s Single Mothers
     “Reaganomics,” Ḥok HaHesderim, and the Oslo Boomtime
     The Hudna
     Knafonomics: Vicky and I
     On Ethnographic Data
     Wrapped in the Flag of Israel’s Bureaucracy: A Road Map
 
Chapter 1. Left Is Right, Right Is Left: Zionism and Israel’s Single Mothers
     Ḥad Horit: Notes on the Hebrew Etymology of Single Motherhood
     The Typology of Israel’s Single Mothers
     On Zionism
     Why Mizraḥim Support the Right Wing
     Why Mizraḥi Feminists’ Hands Are Tied
 
Chapter 2. Protesting and Belonging: When the Agency of Identity Politics Becomes Impossible
     Figurations of Agency
     Protesting and Belonging: An Argument in Six Parts
     Capturing and Conveying Elusive Bureaucratic Torture
 
Chapter 3. Take 1: The GendeRace Essence of Bureaucratic Torture
     Classificatory Schemes of Bureaucratic Logic
     Negative Communitas: Bureaucracy’s “Tough Love”
     The Plus-Minus Model of Torture
     The Zone of Repulsion: Plus-Plus Relationships of Pain
     Documents as Implements of Torture
     Bureaucracy’s Essence: GendeRace
     Response to Bureaucracy: Bracketing
     Impossible Articulation, Impossible Agency
 
Chapter 4. Take 2: Ideology, Welfare, and Single Mothers
Chapter 5. Take 3: Diary of a Welfare Mother
Chapter 6. The Price of National Security
     Knafoland—The End
     This Is Exactly What We Did
     Epilogue: Israel, Summer 2011
 
Afterword(s): Gaza 2014 and the Mizraḥi Predicament
     Bureaucratic Torture: When Agency Becomes Impossible
     Agency
     Torture
One People One Heart: The War on Gaza 2014
     The New Black Panthers, or HaLo Neḥmadim
     Ḥok HaHesderim 2014
     Labor Hill B-Jamusin
     The Ḥamas Salary Fiasco
     Operation Brother’s Keeper
     The War on Gaza—Protective Edge
     Under the Smokescreen of War
     Elections 2015: The Center Moves Further to the Right
The Mizraḥi Cultural Renaissance
The Steady Drumbeat of Eternal Return
 
Acknowledgments
Notes    
Glossary of Hebrew, Arabic, and Yiddish Terms
References
Index

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