Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor Harvey Feit
Israel has many meanings that are crucial to the analysis and interpretation of any resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict. With the Middle East Peace process initiated in 1993, both Jews and Palestinians have begun to rethink their relationship to their homelands. But negotiations take place within an arena where two nations claim one territory, and where one nation also claims a "diasporic" relationship to homeland. Using anthropological and cultural studies' approaches to nationalism, diaspora and the politics of location, I explore how North American Jews construct and experience their relationships to Israel. Travelling on organised Jewish tours to Israel and participating in numerous Jewish community events over a 4-year period, I have examined how the "Israel" displayed and enacted as a Jewish homeland and nation-state through Israeli nationalist and Zionist narratives is "taken up" or interpreted by Jews in diaspora. An identifiable, shared, tragic past, and common ancestry helps to define all Jews as a nation, and Israel as their homeland, but, significantly, not their home. Jews in diaspora envision Israel as the Jews' homeland, and as modern nation state. It is a symbol of the Jews' accomplishments and survival as a nation. But their primary focus is on the relations of nation and feelings of responsibilities towards other Jews. These practices and ideas require a recasting of ideas of "national" identity which assume territoriality, so as to include the practices of deterritorialised identifications with the nation, or what I call "diaspora nationalism." Moreover, I suggest that the "diaspora nationalism" of North American Jews is part of a general post-Zionist phenomenon.
Habib, Jasmin, "Imagining Israel, belonging in diaspora: North American Jews' reflections on Israel as homeland, nation, and nation-state" (1999). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1722.