Place-Names in Israel's Ideological Struggle over the Administered Territories

Saul B. Cohen, Nurit Kliot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper deals with the symbolic role of place-names as expressions of ideological values. Names are symbolic elements of landscape that reflect abstract or concrete national and local sentiments and goals. In the case of Israel, the selection of place-names has become a powerful tool for reinforcing competing national Zionist ideologies. Implicit in this competition are two major Israeli place-name themes: the message of essentialism or continuity, and epochalism or change. Essentialism is expressed in Hebrew place-names and in a variety of other symbols that project Israel as the sole heir to the Holy Land. In this context, Biblical and Talmudic place-names are reintroduced or reinforce the bonds between the Jewish community in Israel and the land, as emphasized by the Likud party when in power, in alliance with the orthodox religious wing and nationalist parties of the extreme right. Epochalism is expressed through place-names that reflect modern Zionist settlement values and military heroes, or the renewed interaction of Jews with their land through identification with nature. This was the approach of the founders of the State of Israel; it continued while the Labor party was in power, and is likely to be reintroduced with Labor's return to power.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)653-680
Number of pages28
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


Dive into the research topics of 'Place-Names in Israel's Ideological Struggle over the Administered Territories'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this