Between the word and the land: Intellectuals and the state in Israel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Tsahal, Claude Lanzmann's film about the Israeli army, ends with a freeze frame of a gentle young armoured corps instructor sitting on an enormous tank. This army officer, whose face is meant to radiate intelligence, is wearing the round wire-rimmed glasses associated with intellectuals. The shot, encapsulating the film's visual paean to the new Jewish warriors, is intended to show audiences that, although these soldiers' main business is war, the hereditary intellectuality of the 'progeny' of Marx, Freud and Einstein is discernible even in the young face of an armoured corps soldier. The strong State of Israel has become the last imaginary refuge from the impossibility of universalism. Yet the main accomplishment of Zionist settlement has been to transform part of the 'People of the Book' into a nation in which, after many hardships, the position of 'men of letters' is not very different from that assigned to them in other modern cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntellectuals in Politics
Subtitle of host publicationFrom the Dreyfus Affair to Salman Rushdie
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781134749607
ISBN (Print)0415149967, 9780415149969
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013


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