KIBBUTZ JOURNAL by Kathy E. Ferguson


Reflections on Gender, Race and Militarism in Israel
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 A slight and strident autobiographical account of an American academic's four-month stay on an Israeli kibbutz in 1992. Ferguson (Political Science and Women's Studies/Univ. of Hawaii at Manoa), who's married to an Israeli, records her impressions of Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in this political tract written in diary form. The issues she raises--the treatment of the Palestinians under Israeli military government, the secondary status of women in public life--are considered here in an ideologically hidebound manner, and her predictable observations and reactions are couched in inexpressive academic jargon. Visiting a ``phallic marble monument'' to Egyptian soldiers (a product of the Camp David Accords), Ferguson comments that ``this marker interrupts the dominant discursive terrain upon which memory is constituted.'' And in noting that there are many ``voices'' in Israel, she claims that ``one of the tasks of the Israeli state has been to mask this ways that co- opt or delegitimize its subversions.'' Nowhere in this book do we get a glimmer of a counter-argument--that the male militarism she so roundly condemns might be related to the militarism of Israel's enemies. The book is also riddled with errors, including the incorrect transliteration of important terms (for example, jamsin instead of hamsin, the hot desert wind). While insisting on theoretical correctness, Ferguson displays a practical ignorance about Arab and Israeli culture and religion. Throughout the book, she cites the Jerusalem Post as a reflection of Israeli public opinion, apparently unaware that, a few years before her stay in Israel, the paper was taken over in a right-wing ``coup'' and most of the editorial staff left to write for more politically moderate papers. Thankfully, Ferguson quotes liberally from well-informed and articulate critics of Israeli society, but this journal indicates that she has yet to join their ranks.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-9623879-6-7
Page count: 136pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995


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