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At the height of Israel's 1948 war, women's columns in the newspapers Ha'aretz and Ma‘ariv offered readers advice, stories, and letters. They focused on domestic practices such as preparing food, sewing clothes, dressing fashionably and providing comfort. At first glance, they completely ignored the war raging around them. However, this essay shows that the columnists portrayed housewives' roles, no less than men's front-line fighting, as an important part of the nation's wartime effort. The columnists and their responding readers took the housewives' domestic practices, which made them seem so unfit for battle and turned them into a battlefield of their own. Through these “feminine” roles, seemingly irrelevant during wartime, they produced their own set of heroines, saviors and victims. Although most of the columnists' advice fell into line with the Zionist nationalist and militarist climate of 1948, this essay shows that the women's columns revealed a few surprising voices of dissention. Finally, the style and content of the columns did not differ greatly from those of women in other wartime settings in the 1930s and 1940s. Rather, their domestic nationalism in wartime followed the pattern of housewives elsewhere in the world.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Nashim: Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues, volume 15, in 2008 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at DOI: 10.2979/nas.2008.-.15.88.

Peer Reviewed



Indiana University Press



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