Taking art seriously: censorship and the making of the Jewish nation state

Censorship is often marshaled in the service of conservative values, such as eliminating obscenity. Yet censorship can also be motivated by a particular political goal. In authoritarian or illiberal regimes, censorship seeks to replicate and instill the government’s values in the service of a particular political agenda. Drawing on Israel as a case study, this article argues that censorship can also be an important part of “identity-building”.
Israeli censorship was first and foremost an instrument deployed in the service of creating the new Israeli, and in particular, the new Jewish Israeli. In its quest to harness the power of censorship for identity-building, questions of free speech did not take center stage. Similarly, the Supreme Court was also quite ambivalent about free speech claims. It was only in the late 1970s that the Court embraced a more liberal position that privileged free speech over national interests, understood as Jewish national interests