This article discusses two case studies that attest to the presence of Arabic language and culture within Palestine’s Ashkenazi community during the pre-Zionist period. These case studies demonstrate the extent to which members of the Ashkenazi community were part of “bnei ha-aretz” (“the people of the land”), a community that was in the process of integrating into the majoritarian local Arab culture. The first case study is of the Yiddish spoken by Ashkenazim during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—a particular dialect called “Palestinian Yiddish”. The second case study concerns the influences of Arabic language and culture on the Ashkenazi community in the pre-Zionist period (“the Old Yishuv”). To this end, I draw on historical sources and contemporary interviews I conducted, bringing to light the linguistic realities that existed in the past, realities that have since disappeared from sight and sound.I also claim that the crystallization of “Palestinian Yiddish” ran against the grain of the hostility, or revulsion, expressed by the Zionist movement towards Yiddish and Arabic, which in time were to become the great rivals of Hebrew. A national movement seeking to assert an exclusive Jewish presence in the country (relying on the principles of “conquest of the land”, “conquest of the language”, and “conquest of labor”) had to distinguish itself from linguistic and cultural phenomena that represented integration and mutual Arab-Jewish life in the land.
|Translated title of the contribution
|Palestinian Yiddish and its Ramifications: A Telling Case of Arabic Language and Culture in the Ashkenazi Pre-State Community during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
|Number of pages
|Published - Mar 2020