Israel, Diaspora, and the Routes of National Belonging
Many diasporic Jews have strong ties to Israel, but what does a diasporic nationalism mean, and is it necessarily tied to territory? Over the course of four years, Jasmin Habib was a participant observer on tours of Israel organized for diaspora Jews as well as at North American community events focusing on Israel and Israel-diaspora relations. During this time, Habib conducted extensive interviews with tourists and community members. The result is a startlingly honest, theoretically rich, and detailed analysis of official tour narratives and tourist interactions at a range of Israeli archaeological, historical, and military sites, as well as back home in North America.
In this first ethnographic account of North American diaspora Jews imagining and experiencing Israel, Habib blends anthropological, historical, and cultural studies theories together in an analysis of diaspora nationalism that has broad implications. Reflecting on her personal history as a peace activist of mixed Jewish and Palestinian parentage, Habib looks at community events in North America that celebrate the attachment and sense of obligation to Israel and Israeli Jews, and shares community members' multiple dialogues on the conflict between Israel and Palestine. What emerges from this compassionate exploration is Habib's provocative contention that much of the existing literature about North American Jews and their relationship to Israel ignores their diverse reactions to official narratives and perpetuates an "official silence" surrounding the destructive aspects of nationalist sentiments. As a result of this silence, Habib argues, Jewish studies has been unable to assert disciplinary autonomy from Zionist theory, and modernism, nation-building, and national territory have not been interrogated as analytical categories in these new geopolitical contexts.
- Series: Cultural Spaces
- World Rights
- Page Count: 325 pages
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.9in x 9.0in
'Israel, Diaspora, and the Routes of National Belonging is an outstanding ethnography that clearly manifests the deep involvement and thinking of the author. From the standpoint of someone who has heard and felt both 'sides' of the story, Habib covers an intricate subject matter that everyone hears about but few can truly understand. As I progressed in the book I felt I was becoming at times a fellow traveller on the tours she so effectively describes.'
Jean-Guy Goulet, Faculty of Human Sciences, Saint Paul University
Author InformationJasmin Habib is Associate Professor in Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo.
Subjects and Courses