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Israeliness in No Man’s Land

Citizenship in the West Bank of Israel/Palestine


Yarden Enav

This book is the result of ethnographic research carried out in the Academic College of Judea & Samaria (ACJS), located in the West Bank of Israel/Palestine. The book deals with Israeli citizenship and identity, and examines the ways in which it is being understood and imagined by ACJS students and teachers. The book also analyzes the Orange Zionist organizational culture of the ACJS. In the end, a new socio-political model of Israel/Palestine is offered: Israel as a Zionist Democracy.
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The invitation to introduce Dr. Yarden Enav’s book engaged me in a sensitive ethical dilemma. Anthropologists usually avoid fieldwork projects among societies and cultures towards which they harbor antagonistic sentiments due to personal or socio-cultural-political prejudgments. Yet, the research subject and the location chosen by Enav represent a highly contested issue in Israeli life. Ariel, a town and the site of an academic college located in the “West Bank” of the river Jordan held under Israeli military occupation since 1967, in the eyes of many Israelis sustains and even escalates the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians over a territory both nations hold sacred. Enav’s study thus can not find the fellow researcher and reader in a neutral state of mind. It is an endeavor reminiscent in its ambition of another ethnographic project conducted by Vincent Crapanzano in apartheid era South Africa, that produced an extremely unsympathetic picture of his white subjects (Waiting: The Whites of South Africa 1986).

Hence I commend Enav who took it upon himself to conduct a challenging study I could not have carried out myself. For many years Israeli social scientists have mostly refused to acknowledge the occupied territories as a legitimate site for research. Many Israeli academics, myself included, demonstrated against the government’s intention to upgrade the college located in the town of Ariel to the status of a university. The majority of Israeli scholars who shared that resentment seem to have erased from their professional consciousness the city hosting that institution...

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