Israel Studies Seminar: TT21 wk 2: Ma'abarot - Not Just the Name of a Kibbutz: Portrayal of the Ma'abarot in the Israeli Culture, 1950-2015

Convener: Yaacov Yadgar

Speaker: Matan Flum (UCL) 

The Israeli ma’abarot (transition camps) are one of the most ignored chapters in Israeli political, historical and cultural discourse. In 1952 there were 132 ma'abarot in Israel and 250 thousand people lived there. In fact, most of the Jewish immigrants who came to the young State of Israel had to pass through ma'abarot. Many of these immigrants lived in the ma'abarot for a year, while others for up to 20 years in unbearable conditions. The talk will focus on two questions: (1) Why has this phenomenon been ignored in Israeli education textbooks, in the media and in the historians' work? (2) What are the discursive strategies that used to vanish the Ma'abarot? The absence of the Israeli Ma'abarot is a case study that demonstrates how an immigrant society handles historical scars from its past. Moreover, the talk will shed light upon current wounds in the Israeli society.

Matan Flum is a PhD student at the Development Planning Unit, University College London. His studies how Israeli discourse, as presented in cultural representations, shaped the national landscape and to what extent, if any, the Israeli housing block ('shikun') discourse contributed to the further evolution of the conflict in the Middle East. Matan's professional experience is mainly as a criminal lawyer. He earned his LLB degree in Law, and his MA degree in Politics from Bar-Ilan University, Israel.