Narratives of Redemption: The International Meaning of Afforestation in the Israeli Negev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A political project will be considered legitimate if the narrative that frames it is. This article explores the legitimizing function of narratives as well as the ways in which the narrative form can travel across borders, contexts, and discourses. The new, afforested landscape of Israel is the result of an intensive campaign of planting almost a quarter of a billion trees. Forests often cover the remains of Palestinian villages, demolished after they were abandoned in 1948. Nevertheless, through the work of narrative, the afforested landscape is instilled with a sense of the recovery of an imagined biblical landscape associated with ancient Jewish ownership of the land. This basic narrative of “redemption” has been carried over to frame new forests that similarly overwrite land claims by indigenous inhabitants. However, the new forests are presented as celebrations of international cooperation by involving foreign actors. Nevertheless, as I shall demonstrate, the particular designations of these forests, which are international in nature, still comply with a basic narrative of “redemption.”
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-291
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Political Sociology
Issue number3
Early online date9 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


  • palestine
  • narrative
  • afforestation
  • redemption

Cite this