A Zionist Villa in Venice
Only four years after the establishment of the state of Israel, architect Zeev Rechter was assigned to design the Israeli pavilion in 1952. Known in Israel as one of the founding fathers of modernist architecture, Rechter had arrived in Palestine from Odessa in 1919. He was on-board the “Ruslan” ship together with other future prominent figures, which caused the ship to be known as “the Zionist Mayflower.”
Bearing this in mind, through the writings of Hannah Arendt on Zionism and Jewish assimilation in Europe, one can analyze the design of the Israeli pavilion as a Zionist villa. If according to Arendt assimilation is the forefather of Zionism, founded by bourgeois Jews, it may come as no surprise that the newly born Zionist state has been making a return to Europe through the founding of a villa. Hence, it has manifested the everlasting yearning for (a bourgeois) assimilation in Europe, and the wish to shade away any relation with Israel’s geo-political location and reality.
Positioned next to the pavilion of the USA, it marks the dependency of Zionism on imperial entities and power, a pattern followed by all Israeli governments to our very day. The Israeli pavilion, like the Israeli state, is an unincorporated territory of the United States of America, relying on far away allies and hiding away from any true neighboring relation.
What happens to the Jewish, Zionist and Israeli identity when journeying from Israel to Venice?Avi Feldman