Security as care: communitarianism, social reproduction and gender in southern Israel

Sarai B. Aharoni, Amalia Sa’ar, Alisa C. Lewin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article engages with feminist care theories and practices of community building in the context of armed conflict. Based on an ethnographic study (2016–2018) of the security concerns of Israeli citizens living in the Gaza Envelope and their positions regarding the siege on Gaza, we find that in this region, vernacular security is closely linked with care, social reproduction and communitarianism. Communitarian ethics is intertwined with separatist, state-centred discourses on national ‘trauma and resilience’. In this context, Jewish-Israeli women care for their own communities as a way to ensure survival and civilian resilience. They generally disengage from moral dilemmas concerning the suffering of Palestinians. On a deeper level, the practice of security as care combines the hegemonic Israeli security paradigm of women’s soldierhood with an institutional and cultural obsession with trauma-oriented activities. Showing strong ethno-nationalist identifications, these women tend to overlook and even support the state’s violent siege on Gaza, which is seen as a zero-sum game. We conclude that the gendered dimensions of communitarian ethics in Israel are relevant for understanding the limitations and challenges of contemporary cosmopolitan feminism and a global politics of care.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFeminist Theory
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This article draws on a collaborative, inter-disciplinary project between the three authors. The research was made possible thanks to generous support from the Israel Science Foundation (grant #1092/15).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • Care
  • Gaza
  • Israel
  • communitarianism
  • ethics
  • security
  • social reproduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies


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