Tzafrir Fainholtz (Technion-Israel Institute of Technology)

The Jewish Farmer, the Village and the World Fair
Politics, Propaganda, and the “Israel in Palestine” Pavilion at the Paris International Exhibition of 1937

In the Paris international Exhibition of 1937, a few steps from the pavilions of Nazi Germany and of the USSR, the Yeshuv (Palestine’s Jewish Zionist community) had its own venue, the «»Israel in Palestine»» pavilion . Initiated by Zionist organizations the pavilion was a Hybrid of modernist and traditional architecture, its front a modernist building of white concrete and glass, its rear modeled in the spirit of Palestine’s rural vernacular architecture with arches and terrace, reminiscent of the Arab villages. The exhibition inside the building depicted the achievements of the Zionist Jewish resettlement project in Palestine, presenting the birth of a new society of farmers and manual labors as manifestations of a new, advanced society.

Stating that the rural resettlement will solve the so called «»Jewish question»» the pavilion was part of wider orchestrated effort, in the 1930’s, to disseminate the story of the Zionist movement cooperative rural settlements, the Kibbutz, and the Moshav, as a mean to gain support for the movement’s activities in Palestine. an effort which involved international professional journals such as the French journal l’Architecture-d’aujourdhui,  writers such as Julius Posener,  planners such as Richard Kauffmann, and international architectural organization such as RIA (Réunions internationals d’architectes).

The paper will present how the world fair, the architectural media and the international organization were used by the Zionist establishment in the 1930’s as a tool for promoting the idea of the rural resettlement in Palestine, at a period when the rise of antisemitism in Europe made the question of Jewish resettlement outside of the continent critical. Based on new archive materials, contemporary publications, and architectural drawings and plans it will present how the image of the rural settlement, as a depiction of social and national reform, was used to present the new village as a manifest of modernity.

Full-text available here: DOI: 10.1051/SHSCONF/20196310004