Female Icons of the Zionist Movement: The Making of a National Heroine in Israel

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Abstract

The role of women in the Zionist heroic narrative has long been an issue of debate between those viewing them as equal partners in an emerging socialist state v.s others who equate them primarily with the task of national reproduction on the biological and cultural levels. This article claims that the ultimate template of a Zionist heroine must only include elements which are suitable for mythologizing and consequently for national reproductions. As women are conduits for national reproduction, the female heroic images that construct the basis for their national identity must be nationally and morally above all reproach. In order to investigate this claim the article analyzes the stories of four Zionist heroines, one sectoral, another local, a third grassroots and a fourth national, all of whom became part of the Zionist pantheon during different periods. By analyzing how their gendered images were presented to the public through the agents of national memory, and the amount of re‐writing that their personal histories necessitated, I will expand upon the gendered components of their heroic myths as presented in these frameworks, and the various implications of this gendering in view of their role of reproducers of the Zionist identity.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)249-270
JournalTotalitarian Movements and Political Religions
Volume11
StatePublished - 2010

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