“Halbasien” in Asia
East Meets West in Zionist Culture
Beginning with the Young Turk revolution in 1908, this chapter examines the changing conceptions of East and West as they were manifested in Yishuv culture. Zionism's call for a Jewish return to “the East” was rooted in part in a broader European fascination with “the Orient.” This interest in the East coincided in time and in much of its imagery with a conceptual division of Europe itself into its “western” and “eastern” parts. The Jews were deeply implicated in these twin conceptualizations of the Orient and of Europe's own “Orient” at home, particularly with the notion that Jews constituted a semi‐Asiatic, foreign element in Europe. Competing images of Occident and Orient—resonating with a wide range of racial, social, political, and cultural overtones—would become not only central elements in efforts to create a new Hebrew language, art, and music but also defining aspects of the Yishuv's institutions, rituals, and national liturgy.
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