“Ezer Ke-Negdo” in Zionism: The Cases of Gerda Luft and Gabriele Tergit

This paper challenges binary approaches to social relationships in the field of Israel studies. It presents social practices undertaken by pre-1948 subjects situated between constructions of a Zionist self and of its “others”, i.e. between male, white, Eastern European, Hebrew speakers and Palestinian Arabs, Arab Jews, women, non-Eastern Europeans and non-Hebrew speakers. The article centers around a new analytical concept rooted in a poststructuralist interpretation of the biblical expression ezer ke-negdofrom Gen 2:18 in the context of its common Hebrew and Arab etymological heritage. Analyzing the experiences of Gerda Luft and Gabriele Tergit, two German immigrants to Palestine in the 1930s, the article points to their social locations within the New Yishuv in Palestine as ezer ke-negdo subjects, i.e. located between the power of the New Yishuv and Palestinian “others”, and applies the concept of ezer ke-negdo as a “local” analytical tool emerging from outside Western academia in order to grasp the distinctiveness of Jewish-Arab history.