Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture

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9781782382225: Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture
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What is the relationship between social protest movements in the State of Israel, violence in Gaza, and the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran? Why did the mass social protests in the State of Israel of summer 2011 ultimately fail? Wrapped in the Flag of Israel discusses social protest movements from the 2003 Single Mothers' March led by Mizrahi Vicky Knafo, to the "Tahrir is Here" Israeli mass protests of summer 2011. Equating bureaucratic entanglements with pain -- what, arguably, can be seen as torture -- Smadar Lavie explores the conundrum of loving and staying loyal to a state that repeatedly inflicts pain on its non-European Jewish women citizens through its bureaucratic system. The book presents a model of bureaucracy as divine cosmology and posits that Israeli State bureaucracy is based on a theological essence that fuses the categories of religion, gender, and race into the foundation of citizenship.

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About the Author:

Smadar Lavie is a scholar in residence at the Beatrice Bain Research Group at U.C. Berkeley and Visiting Professor at the Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century at University College Cork. Lavie spent nine years as tenured Professor of Anthropology at U.C. Davis. She is the author of The Poetics of Military Occupation, which received Honorable Mention in the Victor Turner Award for Ethnographic Writing, and co-edited Displacement, Diaspora, and Geographies of Identity and Creativity/Anthropology. She is the recipient of the American Studies Association's 2009 Gloria Anzaldúa Prize and the 2013 "Heart at East" Honor Plaque for service on behalf of Mizrahi communities. Wrapped in the Flag of Israel won Honorable Mention in the Association of Middle East Women’s Studies 2015 Book Award Competition and was a finalist for the Anthropology of Religion’s 2015 Clifford Geertz Book Prize.


"This rigorously researched book is incredibly uncomfortable to read and exactly, therefore, it deserves a wide audience....Innovative, uncomfortable....thick, accusative, and critical, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel is indeed a must-read for all."
--Anne de Jong, American Anthropologist

"This review cannot do full justice to Lavie's detailed and insightful analysis of the Israeli bureaucracy and its 'cosmology.' The book features a rich Turnerian and Foucauldian description of a ritual universe divided between Jews and Goyim....Lavie's study is solid, scrupulously researched and documented, and has the ring of truth that comes from the personal experience of a researcher who has had to live through her fieldwork situation in a manner that few anthropologists experience. It should be no great stretch for readers of Lavie's excellent study to project her analysis to populations elsewhere in the world who are disadvantaged by the political systems under which they live, but, nonetheless, support those systems against their own self-interest....Lavie has created a text whose insights and analysis extend far beyond her admirable Israeli study."
--William O. Beeman, Anthropological Quarterly

"Wrapped in the Flag of Israel is an important and provocative book that deserves to be widely read well beyond anthropology. The central question it addresses – the relationship between the rise and fall of social protest movements in Israel, and the wider conflict in the Middle East – is of crucial importance not only for people interested in the region, but for all those with a concern with progressive politics more generally... The book focuses on the ‘failure’ of social protest movements against the neoliberal restructuring of the Israeli state that has taken place over the past fifteen years...This is a deeply personal text – written as a contribution to ‘World Anthropologies’ – ‘refusing to reappropriate informant vignettes’ (p. 86) in order to build an abstracted theory, and is all the more thought-provoking for that...The book has two main contributions. The first is to take us away from the Israel-Palestinian binary ... In doing so, the volume provides an analysis of the potential and limitations of forms of identity politics that move beyond the opposition between Arab and Jew, Israeli and Palestinian. The second, major contribution is to add political economy to our understanding of the religiosity of the state... Wrapped in the Flag of Israel is recommended to researchers, postgraduate students, and undergraduates who are interested in Israel/Palestine, political protest, discrimination, and the anthropology of the state."
-- Tobias Kelly, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"Wrapped in the Flag of Israel analyses Mizrahi protest at the intersection of race, religion, nationality, and gender. Lavie's meticulous ethnographic work and pointed theoretical analysis explain the hopelessness of social protest and problematize the concept of agency in the context of intra-Jewish conflict in Israel; in this Lavie also addresses the ramifications of Mizrahi marginalization on the wider Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
--Shoshana Madmoni-Gerber, Cultural Studies

"Lavie illustrates how asking difficult, troubling questions that disturb taken-for-granted silences can be an important strategy of resistance. In doing so, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel offers theoretical and political insights that extend beyond Israel's undeclared borders."
--Simona Sharoni, Journal of Palestine Studies

"Wrapped in the Flag of Israel brings together foundational principles...detrimental to the lives of many poor women in the Middle East and beyond [that] are not explored systematically: gender and race are intertwined deeply and cannot be understood separately; poverty destroys bodies, minds, and spirits, its effects long-lasting and often deadly; the state can be ruthless in its mundane management of its most vulnerable citizens while still enjoying their wholehearted loyalty....Wrapped is incredibly insightful conceptually but also powerful politically. It does not merely challenge conceptual frameworks and academic canons but actively undoes them through shifting and diverse modes of writing."
--Adi Kuntsman, Journal of Middle Eastern Women's Studies

"Lavie has written a brave and scholarly autoethnography using an extended case study method, of a social movement in contemporary Israel....With theoretical sophistication and granular accounts of day-to-day struggles of her own and other single mothers' efforts to survive and gain access to resources and entitlements as Israelis....This is a painful account well worth reading. Social workers from many nations who are involved in difficult macro- and mezzo- practice would find illuminating the many elements of social movement activity and peer-group support that Lavie characterizes and theorizes so powerfully."
--Barbara Levy Simon, Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work
"Lavie offers an unflinching political analysis and cultural critique of the struggles of Mizrahi single mothers and their relationship with the domestic policies of the state of Israel and the politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict....The Award Committee recognizes Lavie's innovative approach to academic writing that combines critical theory, autoethnography, and memoirs to animate the lives of women in a community that has long been disenfranchised, particularly in light of limited scholarship on the topic."
--Association of Middle East Women's Studies 2015 Book Award Competition, Honorable Mention

"[Lavie's] compelling account defies conventional labels for ethnography by combining elements of autoethnography, memoir, testimonio, cultural critique, extended case study, Bakhtinian contrapunct, and the reflexive essay style of critical race feminists....[A] courageous intervention of substantive, theoretical, and methodological significance."
--Faye V. Harrison, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, President of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences

Wrapped in the Flag of Israel offers....analysis of the lived intricacies of [Israeli] intra-Jewish racism....through the lens of the State's most forgotten internal others: Mizrahi single mothers. The book....contributes whole new dimensions to transnational feminist theory and feminist of color theory."--Paola Bacchetta, Associate Professor of Women's Studies, University of California, Berkeley, Author of Right-Wing Women: From Conservatives to Extremists Around the World

"Lavie's work marks the first English-language ethnography ... on single motherhood outside North America. As well, it is the first ethnography to explore the complex interplay between gender, race, and bureaucracy in the Middle East. ... [A] must read for scholars of the state, race, gender, class, religion, the Middle East..." - Suad Joseph, University of California, Davis.

"Lavie's analysis of the fusion of bureaucratic and religious power is without equal in the classics of political anthropology."- Martha Mundy, London School of Economics

"This a powerful, indeed an exceptional, book on the fate of Mizrahi single mothers in today's Israel ... without the romanticism and idealism within which Israeli middle-class Jews love to bedeck themselves and present themselves ..." 
- Don Handelman, The Hebrew University

"While the title of this book suggests that it covers a single topic, nothing could be farther from the truth....[Lavie's] unflinching exposure of intra-Jewish racism and its political consequences is unmatched."
--Sally Bland, The Jordan Times

"Lavie's ethnography fills a chasm in the anthropology of Israel that documents inter-ethnic hierarchies and how these are impacted and enforced by the state....She situates the Mizrahim not only in relation to their own subordination within Israel, but also in relation to the on-going inability of the Israeli government to forge peace with Palestine."
--Anja Ryding, Allegra Lab Online Book Reviews
"At the crossroads between a coursebook, a piece of writing about life and a feminist manifesto, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel....is....both an enlightening insight into Israeli intra-racism and an original and valuable connection between two seemingly unrelated concepts: bureaucracy and torture."
--Sorina Georgescu, Hypercultura

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781496205544: Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture, Revised Edition (Expanding Frontiers: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality)

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ISBN 10:  1496205545 ISBN 13:  9781496205544
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press, 2018

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