How Do You Say “Wonder Woman” in Hebrew?

With the release of multiple movies featuring the superhero Wonder Woman, the Israeli press has changed the way it translates her name. Naomi Sokoloff comments:

Wonder Woman, on Israeli TV, was known as “Eyshet Ḥayil.” That’s a delightfully apt and inexact translation which draws on a phrase from the Bible. . . . In Proverbs 31, eyshet ḥayil is often translated as “a woman of valor.” However, the root that gives rise to the word ḥayil can refer to valor (in the sense of courage), valiance (in the sense of determination and heroism), or force, particularly military force (hence the implications of boldness, daring, audacity, and strength), as well as virtue (meaning decency, honor, goodness). . . . Since this text is traditionally sung or recited in Jewish households on Friday night (by the man of the house, to honor his wife), eyshet ḥayil inevitably carries connotations of piety and religious observance.

The discrepancy between that image and the image of a scantily clad Amazonian superhero makes for comic discordance. . . . No wonder, then, that the recent Hollywood Wonder Woman films starring the Israeli actress and model Gal Gadot are often referred to in the Israeli press as “Vunder Voman.” The transliteration from English helps the pop-culture icon make sense in a Hebrew-speaking milieu. . . .

Yet the option remains of going with what makes sense within Hebrew tradition, and simply enjoying the surplus of meaning that the phrase eyshet ḥayil generates. . . . Part of the power of modern spoken Hebrew—even in its everyday, most ordinary routines and in the setting of popular culture—is that it can spark a cluster of associations. It negotiates constantly between past and present, religious and secular spheres of meaning, Jewish culture and other influences.  Today’s Hebrew encourages us to reconsider traditional texts, and it offers . . . words and phrases in which meanings collide, compete for attention, recombine, subsume, and reinterpret one another.

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Read more at Stroum Center for Jewish Studies

More about: Arts & Culture, Film, Hebrew, Israeli culture, Modern Hebrew

Palestinian Leaders Fight Economic Growth

Jan. 15 2019

This month, a new shopping mall opened in northeastern Jerusalem, easily accessible to most of the city’s Arab residents. Rami Levy, the supermarket magnate who owns the mall, already employs some 2,000 Israeli Arabs and Palestinians at his other stores, and the mall will no doubt bring more jobs to Arab Jerusalemites. But the leaders of the Palestinian Authority (PA) are railing against it, and one newspaper calls its opening “an economic catastrophe [nakba].” Bassam Tawil writes:

For [the PA president] Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah officials . . . the image of Palestinians and Jews working in harmony is loathsome. . . . Instead of welcoming the inauguration of the shopping mall for providing job opportunities to dozens of Palestinians and lower prices [to consumers], Fatah officials are taking about an Israeli plan to “undermine” the Palestinian economy. . . . The hundreds of Palestinians who flooded the new mall on its first day, however, seem to disagree with the grim picture painted by [these officials]. . . .

The campaign of incitement against Levy’s shopping mall began several months ago, as it was being built, and has continued until today. Now that the campaign has failed to prevent the opening of the mall, Fatah and its followers have turned to outright threats and violence. The threats are being directed toward Palestinian shoppers and Palestinian merchants who rented space in the new mall. On the day the mall was opened, Palestinians threw a number of firebombs at the compound, [which] could have injured or killed Palestinians. The [bomb-throwers], who are believed to be affiliated with Fatah, would rather see their own people dead than having fun or buying attractively-priced products at an Israeli mall.

By spearheading this campaign of incitement and intimidation, Abbas’s Fatah is again showing its true colors. How is it possible to imagine that Abbas or any of his Fatah lieutenants would ever make peace with Israel when they cannot even tolerate the idea of Palestinians and Jews working together for a simple common good? If a Palestinian who buys Israeli milk is a traitor in the eyes of Fatah, it is not difficult to imagine the fate of any Palestinian who would dare to discuss compromise with Israel.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian economy