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Settling in the Hearts

Jewish Fundamentalism in the Occupied Territories

Michael Feige

Award Winner

Anthropology, Israel and Middle East, Jewish Studies

Raphael Patai Series in Jewish Folklore and Anthropology

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Hardback
Published: March 2009
ISBN: 9780814327500
Pages: 352 Size: 6x9
Illustrations: 18 black and white illustrations
Review

Michel Feige has written a book that will be quoted everywhere, not only because of the important research conducted, but also because so little has been written on the national religious society.

— Motti Inbari

Gush Emunim traces its roots to the 1967 Six Day War and the development of a Greater Israel ideology, which sought to maintain Israeli control of the West Bank and other newly acquired territories. The fundamentalist religious movement became a political force by constructing settlements within contested territory and is one of the key players in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. In Settling in the Hearts, Michael Feige analyzes the success of Gush Emunim through an examination of its ideology, practices, and symbolic construction of space and time. He argues that by constructing the meaning of contested territories as a national homeland, the ideological settlers attempt to redefine Zionism, Israel, and Judaism.

In the first section of this volume, Feige explores how the Gush Emunim settlers reinterpret Jewish history, secular Zionist ideology, religious faith, and the Bible to discern the settlers’ attitudes toward the Jewish exile experience. Feige identifies the crucial principles at work in the settlers’ attempts to appropriate land, particularly in their use of collective memory, referring both to ancient times and to more contemporary events. In the second section, he presents fascinating case studies of Jewish settlements that Gush Emunim built beyond the green lines, in important symbolic centers such as Hebron, Ofra, and Gush. The concluding section analyzes the contemporary changes, conflicts, and crises that have affected Gush Emunim in the last year.

Settling in the Hearts is based on a variety of qualitative sources, including interviews, participant observation, settlers’ publications, and visual documents. Its novel way of understanding one of the most crucial factors affecting Israeli society and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict will be of interest to Israeli and Middle Eastern studies scholars and readers wanting to learn more about the complex dynamics of politics in the Middle East.

Michael Feige was a sociologist, anthropologist, and senior lecturer in the Israel Studies program at the Ben-Gurion Research Center at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

With genuine feeling for both the humanity and the cruelty of the settlers, Feige analyzes their indefatigable manipulation of history, archeology, memory, theology, and Zionist principles. Drawing on analytic techniques of ethnography and collective memory, he shows, in the strangeness of the settlers' point of view, how distant this movement is from its goal of transforming its fantasies into the felt reality of all Israeli Jews. By providing brief but accurate historical background for individual chapters and episodes Feige has written a book that is both a valuable update for those familiar with the settlement project in the occupied territories, and an excellent introduction to the subject for readers less well acquainted with this fascinating and crucial chapter of Israeli life."

– Ian Lustick, Bess W. Heyman Professor at the University of Pennsylvania and author of For the Land and the Lord: Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel

Settling in the Hearts focuses on a relatively small but highly visible force in contemporary Israeli politics that has shaped the development of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is, in turn, shaped by it. Feige's multifaceted analysis provides a broad view and an insightful discussion of the diverse and often contradictory processes that affect Israeli society."

– Yael Zerubavel, professor of Jewish studies and history at Rutgers University

The strength of his [Michael Feige] lies in his insightful depiction of a movement that has helped shaped Israel and impacted upon some of Israel's most critical policies. Feige illustrates just how influential the settler movement was and still is. He shows how ideology has blended into national policy and how, while once they were seen as pioneering, today settlements are part of Israel's suburban sprawl. Michael Feige's most important insight lies in a question: now that the settler movement is losing its political influence, what will fill the void for the Israeli settler?

– Jewish Book World

Feige's book is definitely a very valuable and knowledgeable contribution to the study of the religious settlers in particular and to the understanding of religious movements in today's world more generally."

– Hsozukut.com

I highly recommend this excellent book for its comprehensive analysis of the religiously motivated settlers. It should be read by scholars, as well as upper undergraduate and graduate students, not only those interested in Israeli politics and culture and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also those more generally interested in studying fundamentalist groups and their strategies for maintaining and reinventing tradition in a globalized world. The book is written in a n accessible style that will also appeal to the general public."

– Yael Aronoff, James Madison College

Michel Feige has written a book that will be quoted everywhere, not only because of the important research conducted, but also because so little has been written on the national religious society. Feiges comprehensive study is well conducted. His writing is not polemic, not explicitly or implicitly, un-shy;like other books published recently. The book is full of details and references, which create the basis of information on the topic.

– Motti Inbari

With genuine feeling for both the humanity and the cruelty of the settlers, Feige analyzes their indefatigable manipulation of history, archeology, memory, theology, and Zionist principles. Drawing on analytic techniques of ethnography and collective memory, he shows, in the strangeness of the settlers' point of view, how distant this movement is from its goal of transforming its fantasies into the felt reality of all Israeli Jews. By providing brief but accurate historical background for individual chapters and episodes Feige has written a book that is both a valuable update for those familiar with the settlement project in the occupied territories, and an excellent introduction to the subject for readers less well acquainted with this fascinating and crucial chapter of Israeli life.

– Ian Lustick, Bess W. Heyman Professor at the University of Pennsylvania and author of For the Land and the Lord: Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel

  • 2009 Shapiro Award for Best Book in Israeli Studies -