Research Project

Lior Ben-Zvi, French & Middle Eastern Studies

Advisor: Maya Mikdashi, Women and Gender Studies

This project conducts a comparative analysis of modern Israel’s settlement and land use from the dominant cultural perspective of Zionism and settler colonialism. I find that where Israelis envisioned a return to a utopian homeland, Palestinians experienced displacement. While early Zionists romanticized their liberation through labor, that very process engendered conditions in which Palestinians faced unemployment. According to Israeli history, the colonial period ended with British withdrawal in 1948. Palestinian narrative asserts that the colonial period is not over yet. This project explores what it means to be a settler colony for the settled, as well as for the settler, revealing how these opposing frameworks for understanding Israel are both viable, depending on perspective. I contend that crossing the incommensurable gap between Israeli and Palestinian cultural and political understanding requires coming to terms with the gulf between these historical narratives.