Babel in Zion: Jews, Nationalism and Language Diversity in Palestine, 1920-1948 (Yale University Press, 2015).
The promotion and vernacularization of Hebrew, traditionally a language of Jewish liturgy and study, was a central accomplishment of the Zionist movement in Palestine in the years following World War I. Viewing twentieth-century history through the lens of language, author Liora Halperin questions the accepted scholarly narrative of a Zionist move away from multilingualism, demonstrating how Jews in Palestine remained connected linguistically by both preference and necessity to a world outside the boundaries of the pro-Hebrew community even as it promoted Hebrew and achieved that language’s dominance. The story of language encounters in Jewish Palestine is a fascinating tale of shifting power relationships, both locally and globally. Halperin’s absorbing study explores how a young national community was compelled to modify the dictates of Hebrew exclusivity as it negotiated its relationships with its Jewish population, Palestinian Arabs, the British, and others outside the margins of the national project and ultimately came to terms with the limitations of its hegemony in an interconnected world.
Order a copy of the book here (Amazon)
or here (Yale University Press)
Interview about the book on the Ottoman History Podcast, April 4, 2016.
Interview about the book on the New Books in History Podcast, September 10, 2015
Reviews of Babel in Zion:
* American Historical Review (Review by Jess Olson)
* International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (Review by Barbara Mann)
* Modern Judaism (Review by Shaul Magid)
* Review by Ruvik Rosenthal on his blog, Ha-zirah ha-leshonit (The Language Arena) [in Hebrew]
* Review by Yoni Furas in Ha-Mizrah He-Hadash [in Hebrew]
* Review by Hizky Shoham in Israel [in Hebrew]
* Review by Mikhail Krutikov in The Yiddish Daily Forward [in Yiddish]
Babel in Zion: Jews, Nationalism, and Language Diversity in Palestine, 1920-1948 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015).
"Petah Tikva, 1886: Gender, Anonymity, and the Making of Zionist Memory," Jewish Social Studies 23:1 (Fall 2017): 1-28.
“Majority and Minority Languages in the Middle East: The Case of Hebrew in Mandate Palestine,” in Minorities in the Arab World, ed. Laura Robson, (Syracuse University Press, 2016), 174-190.
"A Murder in the Grove: Conceptions of Justice in an Early Zionist Colony," Journal of Social History 49:2 (2015): 427-451.
“Hebrew Under English Rule: Language Politics in Mandate Palestine,” in The Routledge Handbook of the History of the Middle East Mandates, eds. Cyrus Schayegh and Andrew Arsan (New York: Routledge, 2015).
"The Battle over Jewish Students in the Christian Missionary Schools of Mandate Palestine," Middle Eastern Studies 50:5 (2014): 737-754.
“Modern Hebrew, Esperanto, and the Quest for a Universal Language,” Jewish Social Studies 19:1 (Fall 2012; issue published in Fall 2013).
“Other Tongues: The Place of Foreign Language in Hebrew Culture” in Bruno De Nicola, Yonatan Mendel, and Husain Qutbuddin (eds.), Reflections on Knowledge and Language in Middle Eastern Societies (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2010).
“Orienting Language: Reflections on the Study of Arabic in the Yishuv,” Jewish Quarterly Review 96:4 (Fall 2006): 481-489.
Shorter Articles / Notes
"1917: The Ambivalence of Empire," Jewish Quarterly Review 108:4 (Fall 2018): 526-530
Review of Jonathan Gribetz, Defining Neighbors: Religion, Race, and the Early Zionist-Arab Encounter, in Jewish History, 2015.
Review of Rachel Harris, An Ideological Death: Suicide in Israeli Literature in H-Net Reviews (July 2015)
Review of Noah Haiduc-Dale, Arab Christians in British Mandate Palestine: Communalism and Nationalism, 1917-1948 (Edinburgh University Press, 2013), in International Journal of Middle East Studies 46 (2014): 832-833.
Review of Jess Olson, Nathan Birnbaum and Jewish Modernity: Architect of Zionism, Yiddishism, and Orthodoxy, in AJS Review 37:2 (2013).
"The Central Zionist Archive," Hazine: A Guide to Researching the Middle East and Beyond, December 3, 2013.
Review of Yael Chaver, What Must be Forgotten: The Survival of Yiddish in Zionist Palestine, in Studies in Contemporary Jewry, vol. 24 (2010), 283-285.
"The Pedant Class," French and Francophone Studies 21:5 (2017), Special Issue on "Trump and Language," 615-617
"The Local Construction of Zionist Memory," Frankel Institute Annual, "Israeli Histories, Societies, and Cultures," 2017
"Letters from Multilingual Tel Aviv Show the Early Limits of Hebrew," Tablet Magazine, November 20, 2014.
"The Irony of Erasing Arabic," The Jewish Daily Forward, October 6, 2014
"Hebrew U. Embraces English," Tablet Magazine, January 18, 2013.
"Israel Misses Point with Ad Campaign," The Jewish Daily Forward, December 14, 2011.
I have also written occasional columns on language and word histories for The Toast and The Hairpin.
"Words of Summer: (H)air Conditioning," The Toast, August 19, 2013
"Words of Summer: Rhubarb," The Toast, August 5, 2013
"Words of Summer: Popsicle," The Toast, July 22, 2013
"The Truffle: Both Chocolate and Other," The Hairpin, September 21, 2012
"The Birth of Cute," The Hairpin, July 26, 2012