Lavie equates bureaucratic entanglements with pain—and, arguably, torture—in examining a state that engenders love and loyalty among its non-European Jewish women citizens while simultaneously inflicting pain on them. Weaving together memoir, auto-ethnography, political analysis, and cultural critique, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel presents a model of bureaucracy as divine cosmology that is both lyrical and provocative. Lavie’s focus on the often-minimized Mizraḥi population juxtaposed with the state’s monolithic culture suggests that Israeli bureaucracy is based on a theological notion that inserts the categories of religion, gender, and race into the foundation of citizenship.
In this revised and updated edition Lavie connects intra-Jewish racial and gendered dynamics to the 2014 Gaza War, providing an extensive afterword that focuses on the developments in Mizraḥi feminist politics and culture between 2014 and 2016 and its relation to Palestinians.
“Smadar Lavie offers a bracing alternative to the ‘Jewish Disneyland’ image of Israel in her book Wrapped in the Flag of Israel. The book documents the lived experience of women in Israeli society—from the feminist-of-color movement to the politics of funding ngos to the role of the bureaucracy of the state. Using a combination of deep anthropological research and the personal narratives of Mizraḥi single mothers, Lavie effectively challenges preconceptions about Jewish Israeli society, and in so doing, exposes the lopsided structures of power and privilege between Ashkenazi and Mizraḥi Jews in Israel. Understanding Israel’s intra-Jewish racism and its impact on families is crucial to any just solution for the people of Israel/Palestine.”
—Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace