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Settling Hebron

Settling Hebron

Jewish Fundamentalism in a Palestinian City

by Tamara Neuman

12 illus.

  • Hardcover
  • 9780812249958
  • Published: June 2018



The city of Hebron is important to Jewish, Islamic, and Christian traditions as home to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the burial site of three biblical couples: Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah. Today, Hebron is one of the epicenters of the Israel-Palestine conflict, consisting of two unequal populations: a traditional Palestinian majority without citizenship, and a fundamentalist Jewish settler minority with full legal rights. Contemporary Jewish settler practices and sensibilities, legal gray zones, and ruling complicities have remade Hebron into a divided Palestinian city surrounded by a landscape of fragmented, militarized strongholds.

In Settling Hebron, Tamara Neuman examines how religion functions as ideology in Hebron, with a focus on Jewish settler expansion and its close but ambivalent relationship to the Israeli state. Neuman presents the first critical ethnography of the Jewish settler populations in Kiryat Arba and the adjacent Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Hebron,considered by many Israelis as the most "ideological" of settlements. Through extensive fieldwork, interviews with settlers, soldiers, displaced Palestinian urban residents and farmers as well as archival research, Neuman challenges dismissive portraits of settlers as rigid, fanatical adherents of an anachronistic worldview. At the same time, she reveals the extent of disconnection between these settler communities and mainstream Modern Orthodox Judaism, both of which interpret written sources on the sacredness of land—biblical texts, rabbinic commentary, and mystical traditions—in radically different ways. Neuman also traces the violent results of a settler formation, Palestinian responses to settler encroachment, and the connection between ideological settlement and economic processes. Settling Hebron explores the complexity of Hebron's Jewish settler community in its own right—through its routine practices and rituals, its most extreme instances of fundamentalist revision and violence, and its strategic relationships with successive Israeli governments.