“Hierarchical Coexistence”: Relational History on the Zionist Center-Right

By Liora R. Halperin
Submitted to Session P5900 (Ottoman Zionism and Its Discontents: Natives, Nationals, and Settlers in Early-Twentieth Century Palestine, 2020 Annual Meeting
19th-21st Centuries;
LCD Projector without Audio;
The story of Jews in Ottoman Palestine has been represented in scholarship as a transition from multiethnic proximity to Muslims and Christian Arab in urban settings to economic and ethnic separation in the context Labor Zionist call for “Hebrew Labor.” This paper, drawing on a set of largely unexamined local archives, considers a site of a different kind of ethnic interaction, one premised on economic hierarchy. The European Jewish agricultural colonies (moshavot) founded in the last decades of the 19th century on the basis of private capital and later known as the “First Aliyah” persisted in hiring native Arab labor in their citrus groves despite Labor Zionist condemnations of this economic model. Rather than see ethnically hierarchical labor arrangements as a short-lived way-station in the Zionist process of economic development, this paper argues not only that it remained an unacknowledged central feature of Zionist economies, but that these practices, narrated in retrospect especially within and in reference to the “First Aliyah”colonies, constituted a site for a center right discourse of “coexistence” through hierarchy that persists to this day in Likud and other proposals for and claims to economic peace, whether at the Soda Stream factory or in the Trump Peace plan.