11 Chapters
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10: The Impurities of Experience: Researching Prostitution in Israel

Fran Markowitz Indiana University Press ePub

Hilla Nehushtan

“DO YOU REMEMBER what the shower in my house looks like? The walls are peeling a bit.” “Yes.” “So listen to this. I took a shower one day, and on the wall in the shower, right in front of me, I saw a tiny ant. There are ceramic tiles, and then a very high wall. So the ant is walking on the wall, and she is still far away from me, not bothering me. I’m usually really afraid of insects, the diseases they bring … but that ant seemed so sweet and lost … and I thought to myself, ‘Wow, you’re just like me! We’re both in this nebulous ocean, trying to find ourselves.’ The ant is moving very slowly, she arrives at the wall next to me, closer, but seems so lost that I really identify with her, to the extent that it doesn’t even bother me that she is so close, as long as she’s on the wall! Well, in this wall there’s a window. Now I understood her track! She was going towards the window! She wants to go out! Such genius on her part! I was amazed by how beautiful nature was … I imagine my shower wall like … like my life! It’s all covered with vortices and upheavals like all those I’m going through. Every wrinkle and peeling of the wall is like a small mountain … she continues to climb up, and I suddenly see that she’s continuing up to the ceiling instead of going out through the window! It started to bother me, and then she fell! I didn’t touch her or anything. She fell by herself. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want her to die; I didn’t want to hurt her, really. I just wanted her to be able to go out. So I took an old toothbrush and tried to lift her up, but she fought me! Really fought me, and while I was trying to lift her up I found myself saying out loud—’Dammit! Why are you fighting me? I’m trying to help you!’”

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6: Diasporas Collide: Competing Holocausts, Imposed Whiteness, and the Seemingly Jewish Non-Jew Researcher in Israel

Fran Markowitz Indiana University Press ePub

Gabriella Djerrahian

Anthropologists do not go to the field with empty heads and without prejudice. They take with them what has been implanted in them; they go because of what has been implanted in them. If in some small measure an anthropologist may become a member of another culture and perceive the world anew, he can only do so through the lens of his native heritage, trying to answer questions posed in the home environment. (Burridge 1973: 5)

IN 2008 I began fieldwork in Israel to examine the influence of black popular music on the sense of belonging of Ethiopian Israeli youths, a struggling, racialized segment of the dominant Jewish population. It did not take long to discover that in the process of delineating a research site in Israel, I was being reshaped to fit into the operative cultural categories that regulate daily interactions. In anthropology, both the conditions of interactions and their outcomes vary depending on who is researching what and where. Each experience is unique because of the social, sensorial, and dialogic aspects of ethnography. Navigating oneself through this process is the gist of fieldwork anywhere.

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11: Falling in Love with a Criminal? On Immersion and Self-Restraint

Fran Markowitz Indiana University Press ePub

Virginia R. Dominguez

JUNE 1982: I was in Jerusalem in the middle of fifteen months of fieldwork trying to figure out “Israeli Jewish society” when Israel invaded Lebanon. Any researcher with experience in Israel or Palestine knows that it is highly likely Israel will be in some kind of war (or occupation or prolonged hostilities) during one’s fieldwork in the region, but some hostilities take the form of all-out war more than others, even in the eyes of veteran residents of Israel, whether Jewish or Arab. This was one of them.

Official lists of Israeli wars always include the War of Independence (1947–48), the Six-Day War (June 1967), the Yom Kippur War (October 1973), and the war that began that June 1982 under the Israeli rubric of “Operation Peace for the Galilee.” Some people count the two Palestinian Intifadas (beginning fall 1987 and fall 2000) and the Israeli military/political response. Nearly all count the all-out war that began early in the summer of 2006 and included two fronts (one against the Hezbollah in Lebanon and a related one against Hamas in Gaza). Official Israeli sites tend to include the late 1950s War of Attrition; fewer include the ongoing exchange of hostilities between Israel and Gaza since 2006. Still others (not usually Israeli government sites) count the Israeli military occupation of the Golan Heights, parts of the West Bank, Gaza, and southern Lebanon (each long-term but varying in length) as acts of war.

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1: How Christian Pilgrims Made Me Israeli

Fran Markowitz Indiana University Press ePub

Jackie Feldman

IT’S ALMOST 6 o’clock and still over 90 degrees outside. I’m guiding a British charismatic ministry through the sites of Jesus’s ministry around the Sea of Galilee. The packed tour bus jiggles and bounces over the patched road on its way back to the hotel. I take the microphone and turn to the group: “Ladies and gentlemen, if you have any questions, about anything whatsoever that I might have explained today, please feel free to ask.”

A middle-aged Salvation Army guy with an Irish brogue pipes up: “Why don’t you Jews accept Jesus Christ as your true Lord and Savior?” I launch into a five-minute explanation on conflicting messianic expectations, varying interpretations of Isaiah, the plurality of Jewish sects in Jesus’s day, and how the contingencies of history formed deniers and followers of Jesus into Jews and Christians. After five minutes, I put down the microphone. Dead silence. Fifty-five people crammed into the bus and not a sound but the drone of the motor.

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9: Some Kind of Masochist? Fieldwork in Unsettling Territory

Fran Markowitz Indiana University Press ePub

Joyce Dalsheim

Here we are, standing on the corner of “Walk, Don’t Walk.” You look away from me, tryin’ not to catch my eye, but you didn’t turn fast enough, did you? You don’t like my raspy voice, do you? I got this raspy voice ’cause I have to yell all the time ’cause nobody around here LISTENS to me.

—Trudy

HANNAH’S VOICE IS not yet raspy like Trudy’s, the bag lady in Jane Wagner’s 1985 play, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. Standing at her own intersection of “Walk, Don’t Walk,” Hannah is being quiet, busy listening and observing. About to cross into dangerous territory, she feels the fear rising up inside of her.

Hannah has come from a beautiful, sunny place where it rarely rains; a place where people are committed to growing crops in sandy soil. They raise grains, fruits, vegetables, and beautiful flowering plants. Working long hours, they devise all kinds of creative methods to grow fresh produce in conditions that many thought would make cultivation impossible. She has come from a place where people are building a community for themselves, their children, and generations yet undreamed of. They are building a future, a community based on caring, sharing, and hard, honest work. Hannah is about to cross over into a place that everyone tells her is dangerous, and she insists on going there anyway. They tell her the people who live there are immoral. They have lost their way. They’ve placed too much value on material concerns and have lost sight of what matters most.

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