(Re)naming the landscape: The formation of the Hebrew map of Israel 1949-1960

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The formation of the Hebrew map of Israel following the foundation of the State of Israel was an institutionalized measure of cultural engineering and a procedure of Zionist nation-building aimed at restoring the Hebrew toponomy of the land. The Hebraicization of the landscape was the geographical aspect of Hebrew revival, which predominated Zionist ideology and imagination. The Hebrew names affixed to landscape features replaced-at least for Hebrew speakers-Arabic names rendered foreign from a Zionist perspective. Accordingly, the formation of the national Hebrew map of Israel was designed to assert the Jewesh identity of the state of Israel in terms of a conflation of cultural and territorial aspects of Jewish sovereignty. The main part of the article explores the setting up and mode of operation in the 1950s of the Government Names Commission that was in charge of the Hebraicization of the national map. Of particular interest here are the ideological premises that both legitimized and facilitated the work of the commission. The last part of the article evaluates the success of the project and elaborates on its implications in the context of the Jewish-Arab conflict over a shared and contested homeland.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-195
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Historical Geography
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Archaeology


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