Orange Trees in Blue and White: The Beginnings and Politics of Zionist Private Enterprise

People think of kibbutzim, socialist agricultural collectives, as the first Zionist agricultural settlements. But kibbutzim, first founded before World War I, were preceded in the late 19th century by a small network of privately owned agricultural colonies like Petach Tikva, Rishon LeZion, Rehovot, and Zikhron Yaakov, which became the centers of the wine and citrus industries of the Yishuv (Jewish Community of Palestine). Their leaders, who hired Arab labor and saw themselves as pragmatic businessmen, had an uneasy relationship with the collectivist, ideological communities that followed. Drawing on local archives and commemorations of the past, this talk looks at the ways in which members of these communities thought about their own origins, constructed themselves as the “first” Zionists, and promoted an image of a Zionism they claimed was prior to and outside politics, one that continues to influence Israel today.

Liora Halperin is Associate Professor of International Studies, History, and Jewish Studies at the University of Washington, where she also holds the Jack and Rebecca Benaroya Endowed Chair in Israel Studies. Her research focuses on Jewish cultural history and collective memory, the history of Zionism, language ideology and policy, and the politics surrounding nation formation in Palestine/Israel.

Cosponsored by: History, Institute for Global Studies, and Political Science


Mount Zion Temple
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