Tamar Mayer


The attachment of a nation to its ancestral homeland is indisputable. Yet, when the nation does not have a clear idea of the geographical parameters of its territory, the boundaries often get defined by others and through war. In the case of Israel, however, especially since 1967, the Jewish homeland has been defined and shaped not simply by war but by government policies that support the Settlement Project in the occupied territories of the West Bank. While Jewish men and women historically have had different roles in defining Israel’s boundaries – men as defenders of borders and women as enablers and reproducers of the nation – it is Jewish men who have been perceived as central to the Zionist Project, not women. But as this article suggests, such perspective is simplistic, for women, especially settlers, as leaders and always as willing practitioners in the Settlement Projects, have helped shape the geographical and, more importantly, the psychological parameters of the homeland. With each attempt to settle all parts of the West Bank, even in the most remote outposts, and refusing to compromise over what the homeland includes, these settlers have challenged the memory of a “Smaller Israel” in favor of a “Greater Israel.” In their actions therefore, they have been at the forefront of the struggle over the memory of boundary and, thus, are challenging the boundary of memory.

Author Biography

Tamar Mayer is a political geographer who specializes in the study of ethno-national identities in the Middle East, particularly of Jews and Palestinians, and recently, in Xinjiang, China, of the Uighurs. Her work focuses on the connection among gender, borders, landscapes and the nation. She is Professor of Geography and Director of both the International Studies Program and the Rohatyin Center for International Affairs at Middlebury College.