RE-GENERATION NATION AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER IN PEACE AND WAR-PALESTINE JEWS, 1900-1918

Billie Melman*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

Abstract

The sociopolitical marginalization of youth in Palestine was complicated by their iconic place in the Zionist ethos, for there certainly was a discrepancy between the experience of the native generation within the familial agricultural community and their discursive construction as an elite and as the site of a new Jewish nationalism. The discrepancy is specially apparent in the status of men who came of age around the outbreak of World War I. For the Zionist ideal of a new Jew, apotheosized-in theory-in the new generation, was a construction of masculinity. Indeed, in Hebrew the very term “generation” (dor, from the Aramaic dar) seems to exclude women. The first Hebrew dictionary, the repository of the revived and modernized language and the life project of philologist Eliezer Ben-Yehuda (Perlman, 1858-1922), defines “generation” as “Histories born one of the other, which are one to the other as generations: the father, the son and the son of the son are three generations.” Ben-Yehuda’s impressive array of Biblical and Talmudic quotations stresses a patrilinear notion of a nation “fathered” by men. 13 Ben-Yehuda was reiterating the notion of the new man as the progenitor of the renewed nation, a notion familiar from the enormously popular national poetry of Saul Tschernikovsky (1875-1943) and laureate Chaim Nachman Bialik (1873-1934). In the former’s popular rhymes, a generation “will live, act, dol a generation on the land indeed lives/ not in the future-in heaven, " while a phrase in Bialik’s epic “The Dead of the Desert” became a household term: “We are the last generation of the enslaved and the first of the redeemed.”14.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBorderlines Genders and Identities in War and Peace, 1870-1930
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Pages121-140
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781136043826
ISBN (Print)9780415911139
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013

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