Wrapped in the Flag of Israel

In Wrapped in the Flag of Israel, Smadar Lavie analyzes the racial and gender justice protest movements in the State of Israel from the 2003 Single Mothers’ March to the 2014 New Black Panthers and explores the relationships between these movements, violence in Gaza, and the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran.

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

Smadar Lavie spent nine years as a tenured professor of anthropology at the University of California, Davis, and is currently a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley’s Department of Ethnic Studies and a visiting professor at the Institute for Social Science in the Twenty-First Century at University College Cork, Ireland. She is the author and coeditor of several books, including The Poetics of Military Occupation: Mzeina Allegories of Bedouin Identity under Israeli and Egyptian Rule. The first edition of Wrapped in the Flag of Israel won honorable mention from the Association of Middle East Women’s Studies and was a finalist for the Clifford Geertz Prize from the Society for the Anthropology of Religion. Lavie won the 2009 Gloria Anzaldúa Prize from the American Studies Association.
Event date: 
Monday, August 6, 2018 - 5:30pm to 7:30pm
Event address: 
2430 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
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