The description is submitted to:


Session C4701 (Reframing the Debate about Secularism in the MENA Region: Religious Violence, Secular Violence, and the Question of "Real" Politics), 2016
The first Zionist-affiliated agricultural colonists in late 19th century Palestine, known retroactively as the "First Aliyah," differed from their successors in several significant ways that rendered their relationship to the Zionist national narrative highly ambiguous. They were plantation style capitalists, readily employing local native labor, and, save for several notable exceptions, were traditionally religious, unlike the secular socialist Zionists who would rise to ideological hegemony in Palestine in the early 20th century. My contributions to the panel will focus specifically on narratives of violence, victimhood, and heroism attached to these colonies by successive generations of Zionists, with a particular focus on Petach Tikva, which holds the somewhat contradictory legacy of being most associated with "pre-Zionist" Jewish religiosity and at the same time being associated with early Zionist heroism, often coded as deployment of violence against Arabs. My comments will consider the uneasy juxtapositions between concepts of "religiosity," "secularism," "heroism," and "violence," and consider how an evolving national narrative sought to resolve these tensions, often only partially and through key elisions and erasures.