Dr. Daniel Levine “‘He Knew of a Surety’: Realism, Zionist National-Security Discourse, and the Absent Sublime” Journal Article

“He Knew of a Surety”: Realism, Zionist National-Security Discourse, and the Absent Sublime

Dr. Daniel Levine (University of Alabama)

Journal Article in Global Studies Quarterly, Vol 2, Issue 3.


Drawing on close readings of an understudied Hebrew-language archive—the journal Ma’arakhot—this article examines the emergence of a new political and technical vernacular for the “doing” of national security. That vernacular was both practical and poetic/rhetorical. That is, it aimed to produce intuitive Hebrew-language equivalents for strategic, operational, and tactical concepts used in foreign—especially British, Soviet, and American—sources and to foster a vibrant, expressive, Hebrew-language political vernacular into which they could be placed. The article considers tensions that arose between these two aims, and the ways in which the journal’s editors and translators attempted—ultimately unsuccessfully—to deal with them. “Realism,” whether literary or political, requires a mythic framework for which it cannot itself give account. Unable to resolve these tensions, the journal took up to a fulsome, faux-biblical prose style for its fictional offerings, producing what I call an “absent sublime.” The article describes the “absent sublime” in some detail, along with the specific stylistic choices upon which it relied. It then considers the backlashes such usages may engender, in light of the tensions they conceal and are predicated upon but cannot resolve.