Israeli Disraeli: Benjamin Disraeli's Afterlives in Israeli Culture

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Abstract

Building on the work of scholars who have examined how Benjamin Disraeli's Jewish roots affected his life, career, and public reception in Britain, the present article considers how these Jewish elements were understood and represented in the Hebrew culture emerging in Eretz Yisrael—from early Zionist settlement in the 1880s, through the Mandate period, to the founding of Israel in 1948 and beyond. Exploring a broad range of cultural arenas, the article traces intricate responses to Disraeli's political style and imperial vision, to his conversion and myth of Jewish racial superiority, and to his art, both as novelist and political performer. While Disraeli's proto-Zionism was celebrated in Israel, at least up to the 1950s, other elements of Disraeli's persona and thought were suppressed or treated ambivalently—often the result of ideological fault-lines. Attempting to explain these reactions, the article concludes by demonstrating how performances of "Dizzy" still echo in contemporary Israeli political culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-222
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Jewish Identities
Volume15
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Religious studies
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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