Sunday, April 17, 2011

Israeli Cinema: Identities in Motion, A Reader, University of Texas Press, 2011.

Book Description

With top billing at many film forums around the world, as well as a string of prestigious prizes, including consecutive nominations for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, Israeli films have become one of the most visible and promising cinemas in the first decade of the twenty-first century, an intriguing and vibrant site for the representation of Israeli realities.

The first anthology of its kind in English, Israeli Cinema: Identities in Motion presents a collection of articles in which leading Israeli film scholars examine Israeli cinema as a prism that refracts collective Israeli identities through the medium and art of motion pictures. The contributors address several broad themes: the nation imagined on film; war, conflict, and trauma; gender, sexuality, and ethnicity; religion and Judaism; discourses of place in the age of globalism; filming the Palestinian Other; and new cinematic discourses. The authors' illuminating readings of Israeli films reveal that Israeli cinema offers rare visual and narrative insights into the complex national, social, and multicultural Israeli universe, transcending the partial and superficial images of this culture in world media.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Israeli Culture Between the Two Intifadas: A Brief Romance

Book description:
Over the past two decades, profound changes in Israel opened its society to powerful outside forces and the dominance of global capitalism. As a result, the centrality of Zionism as an organizing ideology waned, prompting expressions of anxiety in Israel about the coming of a post-Zionist age. The fears about the end of Zionism were quelled, however, by the Palestinian uprising in 2000, which spurred at least a partial return to more traditional perceptions of homeland. Looking at Israeli literature of the late twentieth century, Yaron Peleg shows how a young, urban class of Israelis felt alienated from the Zionist values of their forebears, and how they adopted a form of escapist romanticism as a defiant response that replaced traditional nationalism. One of the first books in English to identify the end of the post-Zionist era through inspired readings of Hebrew literature and popular media, Israeli Culture between the Two Intifadas examines Israel's ambivalent relationship with Jewish nationalism at the end of the twentieth century.

Naomi B. Sokoloff, Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, University of Washington, Choice
Informative, intelligent, never condescending, this book allows outsiders broad insights into Israeli literature and society, even as it provides articulate, nuanced readings of particular authors.

Orientalism and the Hebrew Imagination

Book Description:

Calling into question prevailing notions about Orientalism, Yaron Peleg shows how the paradoxical mixture of exoticism and familiarity with which Jews related to Palestine at the beginning of the twentieth century shaped the legacy of Zionism. In Peleg’s view, the tension between romancing the East and colonizing it inspired a revolutionary reform that radically changed Jewish thought during the Hebrew Revival that took place between 1900 and 1930.

Orientalism and the Hebrew Imagination introduces a fresh voice to the contentious debate over the concept of Orientalism. Zionism has often been labeled a Western colonial movement that sought to displace and silence Palestinian Arabs. Based on his readings of key texts, Peleg asserts that early Zionists were inspired by Palestinian Arab culture, which in turn helped mold modern Jewish gender, identity, and culture.

Peleg begins with the new ways in which the lands of the Bible are formulated as a modern "Orient" in David Frishman’s Bamidbar. He continues by showing how in The Sons of Arabia, Moshe Smilansky laid the basis for the literary construction of the "New Jew," modeled after Palestinian Arabs. Peleg concludes with a discussion of L. A. Arielli’s 1913 play Allah Karim! in which both the promise and the problems of the Land of Israel as "Orient" marked the end of Hebrew Orientalism as a viable cultural option.


S. Gittleman, Tufts University, Choice
Intended for sophisticated Hebrew literature scholars, The writing style is transparent, the subject is not.

Given its topic, the book has the potential to slide into the dogmatic stridency of current politics, but it never does. This is an elegant scholarly work on a subtle topic.

Ivar D. Kalmar, Studies in Contemporary Jewry
a significant contribution to our understanding of the complexities of Jewish attitudes to Arabs in the early twentieth century.

Ranen Omer-Sherman, AJS Review
Orientalism and the Hebrew Imagination is a splendidly written and lively introduction to important developments in the early Hebrew canon of Jewish Palestine... Peleg delivers not only his excellent translations of literary passages that startle and provoke on many levels (frequently from texts completely unfamiliar to English readers) but also provides the reader with brilliant close readings. He should be congratulated for an erudite study that is written with marvelous clarity and infectious passion... In providing us with a deep understanding of the intriguingly conflicted yearnings of the Hebrew revival, which the author manages to present with infectious sense of affection as well as critical distance, Peleg has provided an even more valuable service.

Derech Gever, Homoeroticism in Hebrew Literature, 1880-200


Yoram Metzer, Ma'ariv
Peleg's synoptic introductory essay provides a fascinating opening about the history of homosexual representation in Jewish and Israeli cultures. Peleg's reading of the history of homosexuality in Hebrew literature is intelligent, sensitive and yields a number of surprises.

Rena Verbin, Ha'ir
Peleg's excellent opening essay introduces readers to the development of homosexual representation in Hebrew literature and explains the dearth of such representations until the end of the 20th century.
A unique anthology… first of its kind in Hebrew…

Ron Newlad, Ha'aretz
Peleg's interesting introduction uses insights from contemporary literary debates about the relationship between Zionism and sexuality, Zionism and masculinity, power and sexuality and pleasure and conquest. But unlike the radical passion that usually accompanies such subversive readings, Peleg offers a more liberal and nuanced reading of these texts.

Yonatan Sagiv, Time Out Tel-Aviv
A clear and interesting introduction that provides a fascinating reading of the stories based on various gender and queer theories.
This is an important book… A significant first step in the reconstruction of Jewish-Israeli homosexual history.

Brandeis Modern Hebrew

Book description:

Written by the core faculty of the Hebrew Program at Brandeis University, Brandeis Modern Hebrew is an accessible introduction to the Hebrew language for American undergraduates and high school students. Its functional and contextual elements are designed to bring students from the beginner level to the intermediate level, and to familiarize them with those linguistic aspects that will prepare them to function in advanced stages.

This volume reflects some of the main principles that have shaped the Brandeis Hebrew curriculum during the past decade. These include:

* an emphasis on the learner's ability to use the target language in all four skills areas: speaking, listening, reading, and writing
* an effort to contextualize each unit within a specific subject or theme
* exposing the student to authentic and semi-authentic materials (texts written by native speakers)
* exploring different elements from Israeli and Jewish culture in the language drills, reading passages, and in selections of sources from the Hebrew literary canon

The text in this edition comprises a short introduction to the instructor, 11 units, supplementary Hebrew proficiency guidelines, and a vocabulary list. Included is a CD that contains audio material for some of the exercises and an enrichment program linked to the text.

Course Offerings

Advanced Hebrew Literature

Close readings of modern Hebrew literature from the 19th century to the present. Readings, class discussions and writing are in Hebrew.

Modern Hebrew Literary Classics

Prose and poetry of a century of writing from the beginning of the Hebrew literary renaissance to contemporary Israeli literature. Discussions stress historical development and authors’ treatments of tradition and modernity. All readings are in translation.

Israeli Society and Culture: Literary Perspectives

A study of Israeli literature reflecting such contemporary issues as Zionism and its critics, ethnic and religious strife, images of Arabs, the impact of the Holocaust, the Intifida in literature and other contemporary Israeli cultural realities. All readings are in translation.

Israeli Cinema
An examination of various trends in Israeli cinema. Course focus varies each year from early national or Zionist cinema to more individual films in contemporary cinema.

Israel: Invention of a Culture
A look at some of the cultural innovations of early Zionism in the first half of the twentieth century, including language, poetry, literature, body culture (labor, defense), visual art, national symbols (star of David, Menorah), holidays (Hanukka, Purim), music, settlement and architecture (kibbutz, Tel-Aviv).

Writings and Research


Israeli Cinema: Identities in Motion, A Reader, University of Texas Press, 2011.

Israeli Culture Between the Two Intifadas: A Brief Romance, University of Texas Press, Fall 2008 .

Orientalism and the Hebrew Imagination, Cornell University Press, 2005 .

Derech Gever, Homoeroticism in Hebrew Literature, 1880-200, Shufra, 2003 (in Hebrew).

Brandeis Modern Hebrew, New England University Press, 2002, 2003, 2004.


- "Making a Holy Community: God's Neighbors and the Ascendancy of a `new Religious Hegemony in Israel,” Jewish Film & New Media 2013, pp. 64-86.

- “Writing the Land: Language and Territory in Modern Hebrew Literature,” Journal of Modern Hebrew Studies, Volume 12, Issue 2, 2013, pp. 297-312.

- "Beaufort the Book, Beaufort the film: Israeli Militarism Under Attack," Narratives of Dissent: War in Contemporary Israeli Arts and Culture, Rachel S. Harris and Ranen Omer-Sherman editors.

- "Ecce Homo: The Transfiguration of Manhood in Israeli Cinema," submitted to Identities in Motion, University of Texas Press.

- "Zionism and Postcolonialism in Y. H. Brenners' Short Story 'Avla'." Hador, 2008.

- "From Black to White: The Changing Image of Mizrahim in Israeli Cinema, 1960-2000." Journal of Israel Studies, Volume 13, Number 2, Summer 2008, pp. 122-145.

- "Love, Suddenly: Etgar Keret and the Emergence of Hebrew Romance," Hebrew Studies, 2008; XLIX:143-164.

- "Israeli Identity in a Post-Zionist Age," Ruth Wisse festschrist, Harvard University Press, 2008.

- "Heroic Conduct: Homoeroticism and the Creation of Modern, Jewish Masculinities," Jewish Social Studies: History, Culture, Society n.s. 13, no. 1, (Fall 2007): 31-58.

- "Love at First Sight David, Jonathan and the Biblical Politics of Gender," Journal for the Study of Old Testament, Vol 30.2 (2005): 171-189.

- "The Unbearable Lightness of Being Jewish in America: Anxiety and Success in the American Hebrew Short story," Hadoar, September, 2003.

- "The Critic as a Dialectical Zionist: Gershon Shaked's Hebrew Fiction 1880-1980," Prooftexts, volume 23, No. 3, Fall 2003.

Work in Progress

- Hebrew literature in American, 1900-1950. A critical anthology of poetry and prose. This is a joint project with Alan Mintz of the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Heksherim Institute of the Ben Gurion University in the Negev.

- Love or romance in Hebrew literature. A literary-historical analysis of the minor place romance has played in Hebrew (and Jewish) literature and culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries despite the major role it had in European culture at the same time.

- The invention of Zionist culture and its legacy today. A historical analysis of the cultural innovations of Zionism, like language, literature, symbols, holidays, body culture, the aesthetics of toughness, visual art, music and architecture and their metamorphosis over a period of 100 years, from the beginning of the twentieth century to the end of that century.