Jewish Contiguities and the Soundtrack of Israeli History
Jewish Contiguities and the Soundtrack of Israeli History revolutionizes the study of modern Israeli art music by tracking the surprising itineraries of Jewish art music in the move from Europe to Mandatory Palestine and Israel. Leaving behind cliches about East and West, Arab and Jew, this book provocatively exposes the legacies of European antisemitism and religious Judaism in the making of Israeli art music. Shelleg introduces the reader to various aesthetic dilemmas involved in the emergence of modern Jewish art music, ranging from auto-exoticism through the hues of self-hatred to the disarticulation of Jewish musical markers. He then considers part of this musics' translocation to Mandatory Palestine, studying its discourse with Hebrew culture, and composers' grappling with modern and Zionist images of the self. Unlike previous efforts in the field, Shelleg unearths the mechanism of what he calls "Zionist musical onomatopoeias," but more importantly their dilution by the non-western Arab Jewish oral musical traditions (the same traditions Hebrew culture sought to westernize and secularize).
And what had begun with composers' movement towards the musical properties of non-western Jewish musical traditions grew in the 60s and 70s to a dialectical return to exilic Jewish cultures. In the aftermath of the Six-Day War, which reaffirmed Zionism's redemptive and expansionist messages, Israeli composers (re)embraced precisely the exilic Jewish music that emphasized Judaism's syncretic qualities rather than its territorial characteristics. In the 70s, therefore, while religious Zionist circles translated theology into politics and territorial maximalism, Israeli composers deterritorialized the national discourse by a growing return to the spaces shared by Jews and non-Jews, devoid of Zionist appropriations.