Tomer Dekel | Journal of Rural Studies
This article addresses political mobilization of farmers and the political-economy of Jewish agriculture in Israel, which is caught in the tension between nationalism and post-nationalism, and between socialism and neoliberalism. In contrast with early Jewish farmers, who enjoyed the ideological backing of a robust national movement, and later intervention by a protectionist state, farmers now find themselves in a more fragile position. They gradually lost their prestige in the eyes of the mainstream (Zionist) public, and the neo-liberalizing state is withdrawing many types of its traditional support. The article focuses on the mobilization of Jewish farmers against such trends, and particularly, against the wave of crime they are experiencing, which they frame as ”agricultural terrorism.” Two case-studies – The New Guardian movement and The Dromi Law – are surveyed in more depth. In both cases, the mobilization uses symbolic events to amass political influence, recruit supportive activists, allocate resources and reshape the law to enable civil society to act in ”self-defense” against criminals. To analyze how the discourse of terrorism is used and the context that underlies it, I draw on theoretical frameworks developed by Foucault, Bourdieu, and Lefebvre. Topics discussed include how framings of terrorism and pioneering produce Israel’s agricultural spaces and policies in the 21st century; how neoliberal logic is internalized by farmers who turn to civil society and self-help; and how they invoke national images in an attempt to regain the social prestige they have lost during the post-nationalist era.