The visual representation of racial thought

Table of contents

List of Illustrations by Chapters
Introduction     a. Ingathering the Exiles and the Melting Pot Ideals    
b. Cultural Racism and Visual Racialization    
c. Visual Racialization of the Ingathering of the Exiles and the Melting Pot Ethosc.1 Skin Tone
c.2 Hair Style and Eye Gaze
c.3 Cultural characteristics    
c.4 Visual and Textual Massage    d. The Chapters     Chapter 1: Biologicization of the Jewish Body a. Racial Argument for and Against Emancipation
b. Composite Portraits of Jewsb.1 Objectivity
b.2 Standardization
b.3 Generalizationc. The Gaze at and of the Jew Chapter 2: Tropes in Transition: From a Culture of Racism to Cultural Racialization a. Racial character of Jews in pre-Zionist Europea.1 The contradiction between religious and political practices
a.2 Breeding and fertility
a.3 Intellectual abilities
a.4. Professional tendenciesb. Shifting termsb.1 The influence of heredity and environment
b.2 Intellectual abilities and mental fortitude
b.3 Professional tendencies and physical abilities
b.4 Spiritual life
b.5 Hygiene and contagious diseasesc. Post-Race Discoursec.1 Mizrahim and Racism Without Race
c.2 Reclaiming Race as a Legitimate Category in Cultural Mizrahi Studies
c.3 The Biology of Jews after the Nazi use of Race Theoryd. The Visual Syntax of a Nation in the Makingd.1 Between the Archetypical and the Unique
d.2 Visual Rhetoric of Ambivalence
d.3 The Catalogue Model in light of Eugenics and Social Darwinism
d.4 From the Image to the Ground: Ruppin and The Yemeni of Kinneret Chapter 3: A Melting Pot or a Dividing Mechanism: Visual Syntax of National Duality a. Great is the Day of the Ingathering of the Exiles: Ingathering While Othering oriental Jewry
b. Twelve Tribes and the Distressing Presence of the Arab in the Jew
c. The Face of Israel at 25: An Inclusive Catalogue
d. What It Means to Be Jewish
e. The 80s and 90s Versions of the Catalogue Model
f. From Unification to Variety and DiversityConclusions: From Visualizing the Jewish Race to Representing the Israeli Nation Chapter 4: Off-Grain Fabric a. The Establishment of Maskit Fashion House
b. Home-Based Work
c. Crafting Tradition
d. The Display
e. The Objects
f. The context
g. The Audience
h. the Acceptance Chapter 5: The Bride and the Whore a. The Yemen Bridea.1 Recreation
a.2 Salvation
a.3 Displayingb. Fame Fatale Orientalb.1 Black Women’s Sexuality on Display
b.2 Two Mizrahi Female Stereotypes and their origins
b.3 The Ethnographic Discourse in Israelc. Conclusions Chapter 6: Institutional Power a. The Elasticity of the Color Line
b. The 1967 war and the 1971 Protest
c. Photographs of Soldiers in the 1967 warc.1 Photographs of Soldiers in the Battlefield
c.2 Soldiers Taking a Break Between Battles
c.3 Soldiers in Victory Photosd. Conclusions Chapter 7: From War to protest-Photographs of Black Panther Demonstrations a. The Black Panthers protest in the Israeli Mediaa.1 Framing
a.2 Blocking
a.3 Trappingb. Unpublished Photographs
c. Blurring Ethnic Origin
d. Invisibility of the protest as a racial signifier
e. Summary and Conclusions Conclusion
List of references by Chapters


Analyzing the visual syntax and display rhetoric applied in newspaper photos, national historical albums, and museum exhibitions, Noa Hazan shows that although racial thought was and still is verbally suppressed in Israel, it is vividly present in its nonverbal official and public visual sphere. The racist perspective of newspaper editors, book publishers, photographers, and museum curators were morally justified in its time by such patronizing ideals as realistic news coverage or the salvation of Jewish heritage assets. Although their perspectives played a dominant role in establishing a visual syntax of race in Israel, they were not seen as racially discriminating at the time. The racist motifs and actions are revealed here by colligating multiple cases into a coherent narrative in retrospect. 
This book points to a direct influence of the anti-Semitic discourse in Europe toward Mizrahim in Israel, highlighting the shared visual stereotypes used in both Europe and the fledgling state of Israel. Engraved in their body, these cultural traits were depicted and understood as racial-biological qualities and were visually manipulated to silo Ashkenazim and Mizrahim in Israel as distinct racial types. 

Noa Hazan is an Independent Scholar and is co-editor of the books Visual Culture in Israel and The Mountain, the Dome and the Gaze: The Temple Mount in Israeli Visual Culture.

“This book is a model of innovative and insightful academic contribution. Hazan offers a blueprint for understanding the mechanism of racial construct in visual text, both hidden and visible. It forces readers to reconsider the pervasiveness of race in visual representation, and rethink its location in the eyes of subjects, viewers, and the public.”
—Shoshana Madmoni-Gerber, Suffolk University

- Shoshana Madmoni-Gerber

“Hazan’s insightful Visual Syntax of Race skillfully unpacks the racialization of Arab-Jews/Mizrahim within Israeli institutional apparati. Deploying an interdisciplinary approach, this visual culture book astutely decodes Eurocentric modes of imaging, in a vital contribution to the expanding field of Arab-Jewish/Mizrahi studies.”
—Ella Shohat, NYU, author of Taboo Memories, Diasporic

- Ella Shohat

“An acute and convincing call for scholars, curators, and visual practitioners to examine the ‘to-be-looked-at-ness’ of Mizrahi bodies in Israeli public culture, this highly original and thoroughly researched study appears in a moment of an ever-growing academic and public interest in seeing Jews and Jewish history through race.”
—Yigal S. Nizri, Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto

- Yigal S. Nizri

“This study exposes the underpinnings of the visual language of Mizrahi racialization in Israel in print media and exhibitions whereupon the category of race is absent. It delineates the transposing of European anti-Semitic visual tropes into the Israeli ethnic realities where Ashkenazi Jews turn from the other of Europe to Europe of the other.”
—Yaron Shemer, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

- Yaron Shemer

Honorable Mention: Association for Israel Studies (AIS) 2023 Shapiro Award for Best Book in Israel Studies

- AIS Shapiro Award for Best Book in Israel Studies