Preface – The Question / Udi Edelman

The question “where to?” has a special importance in Jewish history and to the origins of Zionism. In the course of thousands of years, time and time again, Jews have asked the question concerning the next direction and place they should choose in order to live a proper life. This question has almost always arisen out of necessity and pressure to find a different temporary location. During the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, this question became increasingly concrete, as did the offered answers. The rise of the nation state has caught the imagination of many Jews, and opened the possibility to imagine a territory in which Jews will not only reside, but will lead autonomous life. Different proposals were promoted by individuals and groups, winning fleeting successes as well as resounding failures. Against this array of proposals, the foundation of the state of Israel was accompanied by a persistent attempt to end this question and to determine a single and absolute answer – Here! An attempt that sought to obliterate the potential and scope of possibilities that was open not long ago.

The current issue of Ma’arav departs from the historic path and the forgotten story of the Territorialists and other groups that offered different solutions to the Jewish question. It passes through the means in which the state of Israel eliminates these narratives and generates itself as The Homeland, and returns to the imagination through different possibilities developed by artists, and through reflections about a different political existence at this time and place. The path from the ‘historic’ to the ‘imagined’ is not such a simple and well defined course for movement. The transition from the charge created by one to the potential freedom of the other is not all that clear. The historical story would have been desolate without the imagination that became possible decades ago, while today’s imagination can no longer detach itself from the concrete history of this place and of our life here.

Ma’arav special issue about “The Jewish question in history and the Jewish existence in this day and age” is published alongside the exhibition “Where to?”. The Exhibition is held at the Israeli Center for Digital Art, 28/4/2012 – 14/7/2012.

The preface was translated into English by Noa Shuval