When European powers carved political borders across the Middle East following World War I, a curious event in the international drug trade occurred: Palestine became the most important hashish waystation in the region and a thriving market for consumption. British and French colonial authorities utterly failed to control the illicit trade, raising questions about the legitimacy of their mandatory regimes. The creation of the Israeli state, too, had little effect to curb illicit trade. By the 1960s, drug trade had become a major point of contention in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and drug use widespread.
Intoxicating Zion is the first book to tell the story of hashish in Mandatory Palestine and Israel. Trafficking, use, and regulation; race, gender, and class; colonialism and nation-building all weave together in Haggai Ram's social history of the drug from the 1920s to the aftermath of the 1967 War. The hashish trade encompassed smugglers, international gangs, residents, law enforcers, and political actors, and Ram traces these flows through the interconnected realms of cross-border politics, economics, and culture. Hashish use was and is a marker of belonging and difference, and its history offers readers a unique glimpse into how the modern Middle East was made.
About the author
Haggai Ram is Associate Professor of Middle East History at Ben Gurion University. He is the author of Myth and Mobilization in Revolutionary Iran (1994) and Iranophobia: The Logic of an Israeli Obsession (Stanford, 2009).
"Offering a major contribution to the interdisciplinary 'New Drug History,' Haggai Ram masterfully illuminates the social and cultural fissures left by colonialism in the Levant as hashish trade transgressed new national borders. Like the drug it explores, Intoxicating Zion is both a pleasure and act of subversion."
—Paul Gootenberg, Stony Brook University, author of Andean Cocaine: The Making of a Global Drug (2008)
"Vividly written and drawing on a wide array of sources, Intoxicating Zion is packed with colorful characters, from Palestinian coffeehouse and Israeli bohemian tokers, to traffickers, to corrupt politicians profiting from the trade, to the Palestinian and Israeli police who fought to contain it. A fascinating and revelatory tale."
—Ted R. Swedenburg, University of Arkansas
"[A] singular, original work of research."
—Yossi Melman, Haaretz