The Oldest Guard

The Oldest Guard

Forging the Zionist Settler Past

Stanford Studies in Jewish History and Culture

by Liora R. Halperin

Published by: Stanford University Press

368 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 x 0.00 mm

  • ISBN: 9781503628700
  • Published: August 2021



The Oldest Guard tells the story of Zionist settler memory in and around the private Jewish agricultural colonies (moshavot) established in late nineteenth-century Ottoman Palestine. Though they grew into the backbone of lucrative citrus and wine industries of mandate Palestine and Israel, absorbed tens of thousands of Jewish immigrants, and became known as the "first wave" (First Aliyah) of Zionist settlement, these communities have been regarded—and disregarded—in the history of Zionism as sites of conservatism, lack of ideology, and resistance to Zionist Labor politics.

Treating the "First Aliyah" as a symbol created and deployed only in retrospect, Liora Halperin offers a richly textured portrait of commemorative practices between the 1920s and the 1960s. Drawing connections to memory practices in other settler societies, she demonstrates how private agriculturalists and their advocates on the Zionist center and right celebrated and forged the "First Aliyah" past as a model of private ownership, political impartiality, and hierarchical relations with hired rural Palestinian labor. The Oldest Guard reveals the centrality of settlement to Zionist collective memory and the politics and erasures of Zionist settler "firstness."