Sunday, January 4, 2015

Zionism as Homo-Nationalism

(This article was not written by myself, but I consider it worth reposting here, despite not fully agreeing with all its contents. The link between fascism and homosexuality used to be well known, but “Left” discourse in Amerika wants to sweep all this under the rug. This article is reposted here in the interests of exposing the nature of White Nation “Left” discourse. The original blog post can be found here)
Introduction, or, The Zionist Voyeur

In her biography of the Labour Zionist leader Meir Ya’ari, the historian Aviva Halamish quotes the following passage from Ya’ari’s diary, depicting a night-swim with a male friend in the Kineret:

In the shade of an Acacia grove emanating scent and moon shadows.  We were tired and heavy like lead […] a revolt started to stir in me. “Hey man, you are 23. It’s Saturday. Freedom beckons you.” I sprang up. I pulled my friend, with the gentile’s face, by his shirt. He awoke immediately. Quickly we undressed. “Brother, let’s fish the moon in the water.” […] revolt and romantic fantasies were gushing in him too…we understood each other. We jumped into the water, rending their smooth surface and we frolicked until we were out of breath. He walked in front of me. Silver streams ran down his naked copper arms. They moved in a menacing rhythm and filled me with fear and desire. He went deeper and deeper, up to his shoulders, up to his neck, up to his head – to fish the moon out of the water. In moments like this you can betroth death.  Suddenly we heard some workers singing loudly. They approached us on their boat. We snapped back into “reality” and ran to the beach.

Halamish uses the passage to describe Ya’ari’s psychological state just before meeting A.D. Gordon and joining a kvutza where he could channel the angst and idealism so plainly apparent in his writing. She does not, however, comment on the homo-erotic facets of the text. Ya’ari is very explicit about the “fear and desire” that his friend, with his “face like a gentile’s” and “naked copper arms” incites in him. We may never know if Ya’ari would have acted on his desire since he and his friend were interrupted by the arrival of “workers” and that pregnant moment was cut short.[2]

My point here is not to out Ya’ari. His “true” sexual orientation is of no concern to me. I would like to argue, however, that the scene described by Ya’ari is paramount to our understanding of Zionism’s gender politics. It is a primal scene, echoed and repeated in the writing of Zionist (male) ideologues.[3] In this scene – which is always narrated from the point of view of an “old”, physically weak Jewish intellectual – the narrator encounters, surveys and sometimes gropes a young, beautiful and muscular “new Jew”. In the eyes of these ideologues, the “new Jew” is ever an Other – he is always the object and never the subject of desire, leaving him a present but elusive ideal.

The thesis of the present paper is that this encounter between the effete, neurotic Jewish male intellectual and the wholesome, broad-shouldered Jewish male worker/farmer/soldier is the main fantasy underlining the Zionist project. Zionism is a gendered answer to the dual threat of European anti-Semitism/assimilation and more specifically to the masculine anxieties of assimilated European Jewish men. The emasculation of European Jewish men by the surrounding Christian societies is well documented in scholarly literature; the Jewish man was considered by anti-Semites to be feminine, physically weak, submissive, passive and generally “queer”.[4] He wasn’t, to put it bluntly, man enough. As Sander Gilman and others have shown, major Zionists thinkers internalized those pernicious stereotypes.[5] Thus, if Zionism was aimed at the “regeneration” of the Jewish body politic, that body was specifically a male one.

I would like call a nationalist project that is concerned with the rehabilitation of the male body and psyche “homo-nationalism” because that strand of thought is produced by men and for men. The term was coined by the queer theorist Jasbir Puar and used to describe members of the LGTB community who hitch their ideological wagon to the liberal nation-state, while being used by the state as an excuse to imperialize homophobic, “terrorist” third world countries.[6] I would like, however, to use the term differently: I understand homo-nationalism as a continuation of homo-sociality, that is, a socio-political formation that is primarily concerned with the anxieties of- and interaction between men.

Contrary to Puar, I am not interested in the sexual orientation of the members of the nation. In fact, one of the aims of this paper is to show that rather than being a sublimation of sexual desire, non-sexual desires – in this case the desire for a healthy, virile, body politic – inform and shape sexual ones.

For that reason I do not treat Ya’ari’s description of his friend as an indication of homosexuality. The term homosexuality itself presupposes an innate, primal desire that is unhindered and unaffected by external circumstances.[7] I would suggest that Ya’ari desires his unnamed friend because the latter represents a national ideal that Ya’ari himself could never embody. This does not foreclose on the option of genuine homo-erotic feelings – just on the exclusivity of a homo-erotic reading.

Whatever Ya’ari’s feelings toward his object of desire were, his need to identify with the goy-like, muscular and hetero-normative Other turns into a desire for the Other. I would suggest that identification turns into desire because the Zionist voyeur cannot see in himself the corporeal perfection he sees embodied in the Other. Thus identification, which hints at similarity, gives way to desire, which hints at some modicum of otherness.[8] But since Zionists desire normalcy – read, hetero-normativity – the homo-nationalistic desire must be disavowed by the desirer and redirected into other venues. And so, that sexually charged moment between Ya’ari and his goy-ish friend, who “goes deeper and deeper, up to his shoulders, up to his neck, up to his head”, a moment in which “you could betroth death” turns into coitus interruptus when a group of “workers” – standing in for the Zionist collective – bring the two men back into “reality”: rather than realizing the homosexual option, Ya’ari would channel this desire into agricultural work and political activity.

The following is divided into two parts. First I will look at the scholarship of Daniel Boyarin and Todd Presner, who tried to historicize the invention of the modern (Zionist) Jewish man by locating his origin in fin-de-siècle German culture. Secondly, I will survey works by literary scholar Michael Gluzman and film scholar Raz Yosef, who studied the ways in which Israeli art has endeavored to prop up the masculine ideal of the muscular Jew, while at the same time demonstrating the necessary sacrifice needed to maintain it.  

Part One: The Rise of Homo-Nationalism

The historian George Mosse sees the ascendance of the European middle class and of European nationalism as inexorably linked.[9] From the French revolution onward, nationalist struggles were imbued with a moral tinge: patriotism, piety and perseverance were considered both nationalistic and bourgeois values.[10] The French revolution was also, according to Mosse, the moment when “the ideal of manliness came into its own”.[11] The new nexus of nationality/class/gender became prominent as the Jews of western and central Europe went through the process of emancipation, which allowed them to assimilate, to a limited extent, into gentile society. One could argue that modern anti-Semitism, configured as it was in scientific and racial language, was an attempt to differentiate between the assimilated Jew, who donned all the trappings of a bourgeois Frenchman or German, from genuine (read: Christian) Frenchmen and Germans. Assimilation, in other words, was understood by anti-Semites as dissimulation.

Although Christian fascination with the allegedly feminine Jewish body dates at least to the Middle Ages, the nineteenth century saw the medical pathologization of the Jewish body.[12] As the nation was seen more and more as an actual living body, the Jews’ stereotypically abnormal bodies marked them as national outsiders.

Jewish men bore the brunt of this new bio-political anti-Semitism. In the Yiddish culture which developed in Eastern Europe, the masculine ideal was of the scholar who devoted himself to his studies and was supported by his wife. This ideal, of course, negated most gentile masculine values: physicality, strength, independence, material success and sexual domination.[13] Since the scholarly Jewish man seemed to embody the very “countertype” to the ideal gentile man, he became the main target of a bio-political anti-Semitism which understood each individual body as a component and a representation of the national body. The Jewish man could not be a part of the body politic because he could not embody the national-masculine ideal.

This is the starting point of Daniel Boyarin’s project in Unheroic Conduct. The Yiddish yehsiva bokhur, claims Boyarin, was indeed gentle, effete and decidedly un-hetero-normative. But within Yiddish culture these characteristics were not considered faulty – on the contrary, they were desirable.[14]

Although Boyarin does not attack assimilation head on,[15] the fact that he locates the marginalization of the gentle Jewish man in the works of Freud and Herzl, two assimilated Viennese Jews, should alert us to the fact that Boyarin is trying to re-negotiate the term of Jewish assimilation. Both Freud and Herzl, he argues, internalized anti-Semitic stereotypes and gentile sensibilities.[16] Boyarin looks at the vicissitudes of Freud’s Oedipal theory in relation to Freud’s own homo-erotic attraction to Wilhelm Fliess and to his Jewishness.[17] Freud’s disavowal of his feelings towards Fliess came at a time when the modern category of the “homosexual” was gaining traction.[18] This category poised homosexuals as feminine men, and thus as metaphorically equivalent to Jews; conversely, it meant that Jews were queer even before the term acquired its modern meaning.[19] “The Oedipus complex” as Boyarin puts it eloquently, “is Freud’s family romance of escape from Jewish queerdom into gentile phallic heterosexuality”.[20] I believe that Freud’s insistence on the heterosexualization of the oedipal complex[21] validates my claim that non-sexual desires – in this case, Freud’s desire to be a manly gentile – can and have determined sexual desires. In Freud’s case this influence is quite literal as his writings have shaped the modern theory of sexuality to an unparalleled extent.

Zionism – at least its German strand – is for Boyarin “the most profound sort of assimilation” and a project whose aim was to “transform Jewish men into the type of male that [the Zionists] admired, namely, the ideal “Aryan” male”.[22] Herzlian Zionism, then, is an attempt at “an honorable conversion of Jews to Christianity, understood as it always was for Herzl as not a religion, but as Kultur itself, as civilization”.[23] The only way to convert to German-ness without inciting the same rancid bio-political anti-Semitism that was already apparent in Herzl’s Vienna, was to conduct the experiment outside of Europe.[24] The Land of Israel then becomes a heterotopia and a heterochrony, representing at the same time the biblical period and “a Camelot in the desert or rather, a Vienna on the Mediterranean”.[25]

The Jewish state, according to Boyarin, was supposed to be a re-education camp where “manly, honorable, dueling…Zionists” would transform the groveling, scheming Mauschels of Eastern Europe into true men.[26] The choice of the Land of Israel as the site of the Zionist Champ de Mars, then, had to do with more than religious longing: it served as a site of a “colonialist performances of male gendering…Herzlian Zionism imagined itself as colonialism because such a representation was pivotal to the entire project of becoming ‘white men’”.[27] The Zionist colonial project, according to Boyarin, is itself an example of colonial mimicry.[28] To build on Boyarin’s argument, Zionism, up until 1948, was a simulacrum of colonialism: a carbon copy without an origin (a metropolis) that needed to hitch itself to changing surrogate empires. 1948 was the beginning of an imperialization process which came to fruition in 1967: the creation of a genuine Israeli empire, with a “white” metropolis and “black” peripheries. If we take Boyarin’s analysis seriously, then the so-called occupation cannot be thought of as a conjectural historical accident; it is the fulfillment of Herzlian Zionism’s primal fantasy – to become a race of conquering, manly gentile-Jews. The constant belligerence demonstrated by Israel and its inability to let go of the settlements in the West Bank are creating time and again situations where Zionists have to affirm and re-affirm their colonial manhood.

Let us turn now to Todd Presner’s book Muscular Judaism. Presner locates the invention of the muscular Jew trope at the end of the nineteenth century, as part of a whole set of “regenerative” politics.[29] He stresses that muscular Judaism was at the same time a response to the deeply nationalistic and racist discourse prevalent in turn-of-the-century Germany, and an incorporation of its major themes.[30] Presner goes as far as claiming that “the birth of the muscular, healthy, and masculine Jewish body had some of the same cultural, social and intellectual origins as the Fascist body”.[31]

The term muscular Judaism was coined by Max Nordau during the second Zionist congress (1898). According to Presner, Nordau aimed at “the cultivation of certain corporeal and moral ideals such as discipline, agility, and strength, which would help form a regenerated race of healthy, physically fit, nationally minded, and militarily strong Jews”.[32] The need to regenerate the Jewish people stemmed from Nordau’s perception of the Ostjuden as “weak…powerless…Luftmenschen” and from the demographic decline of the rapidly assimilating Western Jewry.[33] As I have suggested in the introduction, when Nordau spoke of weak Jews he was referring to weak Jewish men, and indeed “women [were] conspicuously absent in the vast majority of discursive practices and representations of the muscle Jew”.[34]

Nordau made a name for himself as the author of entartung (1892), a book in which he attacks degenerated art – characterized by “overweening vanity and self-conceit” – and advances instead “an unflagging investment in the lucidity of science and the rationality of the Enlightenment”.[35] But degeneration is more than an intellectual state; Nordau connects cultural degeneration with “race-based, physical deformities”.[36] He, in fact, talks about the “end of race”, a play on the term fin-de-siècle.[37] It is clear, then, that for Nordau regeneration must include a prominent physical component. In fact, mental regeneration cannot come about without a physical one, and vice versa.

Nordau thus demanded from the Jews of his time soldierly discipline and Spartan devotion in their attempt to regenerate the Jewish people.[38] One important venue of regeneration was physical exercise. “In the cramped quarters of the Jewish ghetto” argued Nordau, “Jews forgot how to move their limbs freely; in dark houses, their eyes blinked nervously…their formerly strident voices turned in to mere whispers”.[39] Muscles are thus not just an indication of regeneration, but also a metaphor for regeneration, since muscles can atrophy and be re-built again.[40] One could say that in looking at biblical warriors for inspiration, Zionists were trying to recreate a Jewish “muscle-memory”.[41]

The Jewish gymnastics associations which spread throughout Central Europe at the turn of the century were seen as a national – if not always Zionist – endeavor.[42] This attempt at regulating the Jewish body, claims Presner, should be understood as a part of a bigger Jewish bio-political project that aimed at charting “the birth and death rates of the Jewish people, their life expectancies, their patterns of diet and habituation, their marriage regulations, their susceptibility to illness, their contraceptive practices and other statistical indicators of the population’s vitality”.[43] The health of the individual Jewish body, then, becomes both a component and an indicator of the general Jewish Volkskorper’s state. Not surprisingly, it was around that time that Alfred Nossig founded the Association for Jewish Statistics, which published its own journal, edited by Arthur Ruppin.[44]  Even before the establishment of a substantial Zionist apparatus in Palestine – marked by the arrival of the same Ruppin in 1907 – all those Zionist organs – sport associations, bureaus and journals – were geared towards state formation. In Presner’s words, “bio power functions…according to the ways in which regulative discourses on sexuality consolidate the will to a state.”[45] To conclude, Presner shows that German Zionism had developed as a bio-political project aimed at the regeneration of the Jewish body politic through Jewish body politics, and which created a “will to a state” by imbricating statism, statistics and (male) stateliness.

Part Two: The Pink Platter

Up to this point we have been concerned with the invention of the muscular Jew by Jewish intellectuals. Let us now look at the way Israeli writers and artists have questioned the myth of the self-assured, straight muscular Jew. Reading the scholarship of Michael Gluzman and Raz Yosef, we will see that Israeli writers, who were supposed to both embody and represent the new Jew, took apart the possibility of being an uncomplicated, cardboard cutup of a muscular Jew.

In his book, The Zionist Body, Literary scholar Michael Gluzman looks at a wide array of works by Jewish and Israeli novelists which deal with body- and masculine politics. Diaspora writers, like Bialik and Mendele Mocher Sforim, express a complex relation to the Jewish body, mocking it and denouncing Jewish male femininity and passivity while at the same time re-affirming their loyalty and admiration of Yiddish culture.[46] Y.H. Brenner, the enfant terrible of the pre-state literary circle criticized heavily the Zionist attempt to regenerate the Jewish man by having his protagonists immigrate to Palestine only to discover that their exilic anxiety and impotence travelled with them to the Promised Land.[47]

But Bialik’s, Abramovich’s and Brenner’s protagonists were all Eastern European men, already infected from birth with Jewish powerlessness. It is when Gluzman looks at Israeli novels that the impossibility of ever inhabiting the Zionist male ideal becomes clear.

He Walked through the Fields (1947) by Moshe Shamir is widely considered a seminal novel of the 1948 generation and its protagonist, Uri, the quintessential Israeli masculine fighter.[48] Uri, a kibbutznik and palmach officer, is supposedly a picture-perfect embodiment of the Zionist ideal, up to and including his “beautiful death”: jumping on a grenade to save his soldiers.[49] Gluzman, however, reads Uri’s death as a suicide, resulting from Uri’s Schreber-esque inability to assume the cultural position expected of him by his father.[50]

Uri’s breakdown is articulated in gendered and sexual terms. Shamir uses Mika, Uri’s older, non-sabra lover for two purposes: first, to serve as a countertype to Uri – she is female, feminine and non-native.[51] But more importantly, her descriptions of Uri’s body allow Shamir and his male readers to enjoy Uri’s physicality while eschewing the homo-erotic label.[52] When we compare Uri’s portrait to earlier scenes where Ya’ari and Herzl enjoy openly the presence of a beautiful male body, we can see that Israeli culture has fully embraced the invention of modern sexual definitions, and has become “normal” – that is hetero-normative and homophobic. For the 1948 generation – if not even earlier – homo-nationalistic desire must be circumvented through the female gaze, thus allowing for homo-eroticism in the guise of heterosexual desire.

Alas, Uri – despite his desirability – cannot assume the societal position prepared for him by the kibbutz (which here encapsulates and epitomizes Israeli society). Uri lives in the shadow of his father, an almost mythical figure in the kibbutz, and serves for Mika as a second-best replacement for his father, with whom she was in love.[53] The sexual encounter between Uri and Mika is written from Uri’s perspective, and instead of being registered as a moment of masculine conquest it is plagued with anxieties about inadequacy.[54] Uri, who cannot seem to measure up to his father, starts expressing masochist feelings, involving a strong wish to “be a victim” and “to be sacrificed”. His masochism and, one might argue, the generational masochism implied in the Altermanian “silver platter” ethos, results from the inability of the sabra sons to embody the masculine fantasies of the founding fathers.[55] Uri’s death, then, is a wish-fulfillment borne out of the impossibility of ever fully answering the clarion call of the Zionist super-ego.

Earlier I have suggested that given Zionism’s masculine fantasies, Israeli society should be read as a nation-wide boot camp. Yehoshua Kenaz’s novel Infiltration (1986), based on his own experience as a soldier in the 1950s, treats an IDF boot camp as a microcosm of Israeli society. The conscripts in the novel are infirm or disabled and thus already at the margins of Israeli masculinity. Nevertheless, their bodies are expropriated by the army, to the extent that one NCO yells at a private for damaging IDF property, that is, for cutting himself while shaving.[56] Turning those invalid youths into soldiers is explicitly described in gendered terms. Being a good soldier is synonymous with being – or rather becoming – “a man”.[57] Conversely, any conscript who cannot measure up to soldierly standards is branded “a female”. Gluzman describes Infiltration as an “encyclopedia of bodies”, most of them deformed in some way.[58] Immigrants, whether European or Arab, are portrayed in the novel as androgynous – the camp’s doctor, herself a camp survivor, is “neither a woman nor a man”.[59] Ben-Chemo, the laughable Arab-Jewish private performs a gender-bending belly dance that conflates femininity and Arabness.[60] Even the kibbutznik Alon, who seems to embody the Ashkenazi beauty ideal, has a heart murmur which prevents him from following in his father’s footsteps as an elite fighter. The novel ends with Alon’s suicide, and the similarities between him and Uri in He Walked through the Fields are obvious.[61]

The characters in Infiltration, all irrevocably marked as damaged by the IDF, engage in several forms of resistance; perhaps the most poetic of them is practiced by the protagonist himself, who narrates the novel in the first person. His form of resistance works, as Gluzman beautifully puts it: “contrary to the norms of personal narration, [as] we learn almost nothing about the protagonist. He makes his body disappear from the narrative and becomes an eye, a camera. By hiding his body, he tries to avoid the camp’s bio-politics, or at least watch it from a distance.”[62] The body is understood by Kenaz as a Kafkaesque surface on which the state inscribes its ideology. The only way to resist the statist inscription is to fashion the body into a separation wall by developing a “thick skin”.[63] The infiltration Kenaz writes about, then, is not that of the soldier into enemy lines, but of the state into one’s heart of hearts.

Film scholar Raz Yosef has written extensively about Israeli masculinity, and specifically about military masculinity. He understands Zionist masculinity as inherently masochistic: from the readiness for physical suffering expressed by the pioneers to the willingness of soldiers to lose life and limb for the nation, Zionist masculinity is deeply implicated in the pain and the destruction of the male body. Moreover, masochism allows new Jews to come to terms with the homo-eroticism inherent in Zionist culture without actually expressing it: the masochist gets off on the deprivation of pleasure and the disavowal of desire. The lack of any kind of sexual fulfillment then becomes a kind of pleasure in itself.[64]

Let us take for example the highly successful Israel movie Yossi and Jagger (2002). The movie depicts the love affair between two male IDF officers serving in Lebanon. Although Yossi and Jagger consummate their love physically, Yossi, who is Jagger’s superior, refuses to come out as gay despite his lover’s imploring.[65] At the end of film Jagger dies in combat. Yossi, visiting Jagger’s mourning mother cannot bring himself to tell her the truth about their relationship. Like Uri from He Walked through the Fields and Alon from Infiltration, the defected sabra must die in order to foreclose the option of queer Israeliness. Although Yossi comes out physically unscathed from his military service, he is still unable to come out as a gay man, confining himself to the closet, that is, to an emotional grave.[66] Tellingly, even a highly critical novel like Infiltration and a seemingly emancipatory film like Yossi and Jagger (which was produced and directed by Israel’s foremost gay power-couple, Eytan Fox and Gal Uchovsky), still succumb to the need to destroy the queer male body.
I would like to call this artistic trope “the pink platter”, after Alterman’s famous poem “The Silver Platter”. Alterman’s poem celebrates the heroic sacrifice of two Zionist fighters: a young woman and a young man.[67] I would like to argue that in order for this heterosexual sacrifice to take place, another sacrifice must be made: the disavowal of the possibility of a viable, happy queer existence, a disavowal symbolized in the continuous killing off of queer protagonists. I purposefully use the term queer rather than gay because I don’t believe that Zionism is inherently homophobic. Rather, Zionism is concerned with eradicating any kind of behavior that might brand Jews as non-normative. Thus, I believe, the toleration of gay culture in middle class Israeli culture is a mean of differentiating “white” Israeliness from the primitive Arabs (Jewish or otherwise) who surround it. In other words, it is exactly because gay-friendliness is perceived as normative in Western metropolises that the Israeli middle class embraces it. And so, while gay youths serve openly in the IDF, conscientious objectors, who are still viewed as queer and dangerous, serve sentences in military prisons for their refusal to enlist in the army. In Eytan Fox’s newest film, Yossi’s Story (2012), Yossi, the surviving protagonist of Yossi and Jagger, finally begins a relationship with a handsome paratrooper after years of self-denial. In contemporary middle class Ashkenazi Israel, being gay is alright as long as you are a veteran sleeping with other soldiers, that is, as long as your sexual choices are located well within the respectable ethnic boundaries of the nation.

Conclusion, Or, From Homo-Nationalism To Bi-Nationalism

In the present paper I have tried to offer a genealogy of Zionism’s relationship to masculinity. Using Boyarin’s and Presner’s work, I have suggested that due to the specific ways in which European anti-Semitism attacked Yiddish culture the care for the Jewish male body became Zionism’s most important cultural project. In the second part of the paper I have looked at the price Zionists and other Israelis have paid for Zionism’s constant need to banish the queer from the brave new Hebrew society.

I have also suggested that the alleged Israeli gay-friendliness is confided to certain sectors of Israeli culture which are concerned with keeping up with Western respectability. In other words, mainstream Israeli gay-friendliness is intimately tied up with Islamophobia. A true emancipatory project would be moving from homo-nationalism, a nationalism that is concerned with sameness and normativity, to bi-nationalism. Rather than a specific political program, I would like to use this awkward pun as an indicator that sexuality, gender and national politics are inexorably linked together. If homo-nationalism is indeed content with sacrificing its best and brightest on an altar of an impossible ideal, it should be replaced with a national contract that is willing to include the sexually, politically and culturally queer. One of the characters in Infiltration tells his comrade, a formerly religious soldier – “your body is still Jewish; it doesn’t know yet that it is Israeli”.[68] Maybe it is time that we claim our Jewish bodies – deformed, queer and imperfect as they are – back.  

[1] Aviva Halamish, Meir Yaari, A Collective Biography, The first Fifty Years: 1987-1947 (Tel-Aviv: Am Oved, 2007), p. 55. [Hebrew]

[2] Raz Yosef reads the same passage from Ya’ari in his “The Military Body: Male Masochism and Homoerotic Relations in Israeli Cinema”, Theory and Criticism 18 (Spring 2001), pp. 14-15 [Hebrew]. Yosef understands Ya’ari’s desire as a masochistic homoerotic desire, while I, as will become clear, understands it as an offshoot of a more general, national desire.

[3] The Zionist Body by Michael Gluzman (Tel Aviv: Ha-Kibbutz Ha-Meuchad, 2007) [Hebrew], recounts many such scenes: for example, Herzl groping a bunch of Jewish porters in Jerusalem (p. 21); The writer Yaakov Ya’ari Polskin describing the muscular blacksmith “Sander Hadad” (p. 24); Moshe Smilanski writing about “Huja Nezer”, a beautiful Russian pioneer (p. 26); Friedrich Lowenberg, Altneuland’s protagonist, meeting David Litvak, once a Viennese beggar and now a pillar of the Zionist state (p. 56); Aharon, the teenager at the center of The Book of Intimate Grammar, trying to see his best friend, Gideon, naked (p. 251); Moshe Shamir observing Uri, his protagonist in He Walked Through the Fields, through the desiring eyes of Mika, his lover (p. 195); and finally, a strikingly similar scene in Yehoshua Kenaz’s After the Holidays (p. 221). See also Boaz Neuman’s discussion of the pioneers’ auto-erotic fashioning of their own bodies in Land and Desire in Early Zionism (Tel-Aviv: Am Oved, 2009) pp. 157-176 [Hebrew].

[4] Daniel Boyarin, Unheroic Conduct, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), pp. 10-11, 210, 222; Gluzman, The Zionist Body, pp. 13-14.

[5] Sander Gilman, Jewish Self-Hatred, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 291-296; Gilman, The Jew’s Body, (New York: Routledge), p. 40; Gluzman, The Zionist Body, p. 19; Todd Presner, Muscular Judaism, (New York: Routledge, 2007), p. 34.

[6] Jasbir Puar, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times, (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007), p. 2.

[7] See the introduction to David Halperin’s One Hundred Years of Homosexuality (New York: Routledge, 1990).

[8] In that sense, the desire that self-fashioned “old Jews” felt for new ones is “hetero-sexual” regardless of their actual gender.

[9] George Mosse, Nationalism and Sexuality, (New York: Howard Fertig, 1985), pp. 4-5.

[10] Ibid., pp. 6-7.

[11] Ibid., p. 7.

[12] On medieval perceptions of the Jewish body, see: David Katz, “Shylock’s gender: Jewish male menstruation in early modern England” Review of English Studies 50 (1999), pp. 440-462; Irvin Resnick, “Medieval Roots of the Myth of Jewish Male Menses”, Harvard Theological Review 93 (2000), pp. 241-263.

[13] Boyarin, Unheroic Conduct, p. 229.

[14] Ibid., pp. 51-64.

[15] And since he acknowledges the homophobic tendencies of rabbinical culture and the debt of LGTB rights movement to both Enlightenment and Liberalism, how could he attack a Jewish appropriation of those traditions?

[16] Boyarin, Unheroic Conduct, pp. 222, 277.

[17] Ibid., p. 212.

[18] Ibid., p. 208.

[19] Ibid., p. 210-212.

[20] Ibid., p. 213.

[21] That is, lusting after Mother and wishing to kill Father. See Boyarin, Unheroic Conduct, p. 219.

[22] Ibid., p. 276-277.

[23] Ibid., p. 294.

[24] Ibid., pp. 279, 295. See also: Todd Presner, Muscular Judaism, (New York: Routledge, 2007) p. 10.

[25] Ibid., pp. 295, 302-303. On the concepts of heterotopia and heterochrony, see Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces”, Diacritics 16 (Spring 1986), 22-27. One might suggest that in the light of Zionism’s desperate attempt to un-queer Judaism, the formulation of the Land of Israel as a hetero-topia acquires a second, gendered meaning.

[26] Boyarin, Unheroic Conduct, p. 296. One could also formulate Israel as a boot camp, where boys turn into men. Indeed, to a large extent Israel is one big boot camp.

[27] Ibid., p. 302.

[28] Ibid., p. 303.

[29] Ibid., p. xxiii.

[30] Ibid., p. 4.

[31] Ibid., p. 17.

[32] Ibid., p. 2.

[33] Ibid. Nordau was born Simon Sudfeld in Hungary, and re-invented (one might say “regenerated”) himself as the German intellectual Nordau.

[34] But not, as Presner stresses, from the actual praxis of “body culture”: Muscular Judaism, p. 12.

[35] Ibid., pp. 38-39.

[36] Ibid., p. 39.

[37] Ibid., p. 48.

[38] Ibid., pp. 55-56.

[39] Ibid., p. 58.

[40] Ibid., p. p. 59.

[41] Ibid., p. 61.

[42] Ibid., p. 107.

[43] Ibid., p. 108.

[44] Ibid., p. 109.

[45] Ibid., p. 111.

[46] Gluzman, The Zionist Body, chapter 2 and 3.

[47] Ibid., chapter 4.

[48] Ibid., p. 185.

[49] Ibid., p. 186.

[50] For an analysis of Schreber’s breakdown see: Sigmund Freud, The Schreber Case, (New York: Penguin Classics Psychology, 2003). In the movie version, Uri is played by Assi Dayan, Moshe Dayan’s son.

[51] Gluzman, p. 196.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Ibid., p. 200.

[54] Ibid., pp. 200-202.

[55] Ibid., pp. 204-205.

[56] Ibid., p. 222.

[57] Ibid., p. 227.

[58] Ibid., p. 229.

[59] Ibid., p. 231.

[60] Ibid., p. 232.

[61] Ibid., p. 233.

[62] Ibid., p. 234. My translation.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Yosef, “The Military Body”, p. 14-18.

[65] Raz Yosef, “The National Closet: Gay Israel in Yossi and Jagger,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 11: 2 (2005), p. 283.



[68] Gluzman, The Zionist Body, p. 209.

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