At October 2012 it is 100 years to the original publication of the first story of TARZAN THE APE MAN at the magazine ALL STORY WEEKLY at October 1912.

 Here is the  academic article by Eli Eshed and Alon Raab about the strange career of the ape man at The middle East at Israel and at the Arab world. The Article had  published in the book Global perspectives on Tarzan : from king of the jungle to international icon (Routledge 2012) and is Based on the original research and Hebrew articles and books  of Eli Eshed.

With a Star of David He Swings: Tarzan in the Holy Land


  Eli Eshed


Alon Raab

Tarzan is Jewish because he is also “the few” and his enemies are always “the many,” because he is smart and crafty and his enemies are hotheaded and ignorant, and because he always wins at the end and his enemies are always defeated. (159)

—Amos Oz, “The Lost Garden” in Under this Blazing Light: Essays

A subject of admiration by youth, a model for the new Hebrew man and a target for attack by religious circles objecting to nudity and permissive values, the Tarzan of Israeli culture of the last century has lived several lives. In this chapter we will examine Tarzan’s history in the Holy Land, noting his corollary importance in the Arab world, and explore several of the ideas that the Hebrew Tarzan stories articulated and shaped in their unique Israeli context.

Kidnapping a Nazi war criminal in Chile and smuggling him to Israel to stand trial, fighting for Israeli naval passage through the Suez Canal, foiling the nuclear plots of Egypt’s Nasser and his Soviet allies, helping African liberation movements—these are some of the battles that Tarzan, in his Holy Land incarnation, swung for joyfully. From those first silent films into the twenty-first century, Tarzan has been an important part of Israeli culture. He resonated with the people’s emerging self-image and, touching on hidden currents of Hebrew culture, helped shape the worldview of several generations.

Following the American plots, but also in original adventures and settings, a cottage industry of Tarzan stories flourished. These tales expressed contemporary concerns: the birth of the Israeli state and its early struggles, real and imagined dangers posed by Arabs and Nazis and the new-forged national identity. Some were written by Zionist authors who sought to inspire national pride in young readers; others were written by members of the anti-Zionist “Canaanite movement” who sought to cast aside the burden of Jewish history and the Diaspora and, uniting with other ancient peoples in the region, to create a new nation of strong individuals. These various viewpoints infused Tarzan’s adventures with new vitality and allegorical power.


<A>Tarzan the Jew


Tarzan made his first appearance in the land that would become the state of Israel, in the early 1920s with silent films that drew large crowds.[4] His popularity grew with the move to sound and the appearance of Johnny Weissmuller, who instantly became the biggest box-office draw. Tarzan’s appeal was universal, but in Israel it was also rooted in familiar Biblical allusions. Whereas scholars have noted Tarzan’s connection to Greek and Roman myths and divinities, for many Jewish fans he evoked Biblical characters, in particular Samson. Like Tarzan, the fearless, long-haired Samson was a child of nature who excelled at slaying lions and fighting the locals (in Samson’s case, the Philistines) and was also fond of the ladies.[5]

The Jewish public was certain that the muscular Weissmuller was Jewish, based on his name and wishful rumors. The latter were promoted in newspaper articles and by commercial enterprises such as a candy company’s trading card series of noteworthy Jews, which included the seminaked actor alongside the garbed Moses, Freud and Einstein. Many people shared the feeling articulated by Israeli author Amos Oz; in his essay “Hagan ha’vood” (“The Lost Garden”), “Our parents were very proud that Johnny Weissmuller—the original Tarzan [sic]—is Jewish. This fit well with their yearning for the revival of the Muscular Judaism of the Macabim who will be revived/come back to life” (159).

If Weissmuller was a member of the tribe of Judah, his strength and sports prowess were a special cause for joy, as they negated the generally held view—among Jews and non-Jews—of Jews as physically weak, fit only for religious study or monetary activities. In late nineteenth-century Europe, the emergence of a philosophy celebrating muscular Judaism (articulated by such thinkers as Max Nordau and Micah Yosef Berdichevsky) and sports teams that competed successfully with Gentiles expressed the desire for a new vitality.[6] But although the number of star Jewish athletes, boxers, fencers and footballers in Europe and the Americas grew during the early twentieth century, the misconception of weakness remained. Having a Tarzan, or at least the actor identified with him, who at eight days old came under the ritual knife and entered a covenant with Yahweh, would therefore be a fantastic opportunity to negate the stereotype.

This Jewish–Tarzan connection was expressed also by the era’s wrestling champion, Abe Coleman, born Abba Kelmar in Zychlin, Poland, who under the moniker “the Jewish Tarzan” won close to two thousand battles, adroitly employing the dropkick, which he claimed to have invented after seeing kangaroos fight. (In the 1990s another Jewish Tarzan emerged: Ukrainian-born drug lord Ludwig “Tarzan” Fainberg, who earned the name for his bulging muscles, fierce conduct and long mane.)[7] Tarzan’s supposed Jewishness may also have influenced the resurgence of the holiday Lag Ba’omer. In Biblical times it marked the spring harvest season and later commemorated the AD 135 revolt against the Romans. In the 1930s the nationalistic elements were emphasized, and a song about the revolt’s leader, Bar Kochva, and his special relationship with a lion he rode to battle was added, perhaps echoing Tarzan’s special relationship with the lion Jad-bal-ja.[8]

In the midst of the widespread revolt against the British rulers in the 1930s, many Jewish film viewers were encouraged by the fact that the films downplayed Tarzan’s ties to England. Amos Oz’s words, quoted at the beginning of this chapter, provide an additional reason for the identification with the jungle hero. Even though Weissmuller, born in Szabadfalu (Freidorf) in what is now Romania and was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was Catholic, the rumors persisted, including in Nazi Germany where the films were banned. The negative portrayal of Europeans’ forays into Africa and the evil Nazis that became a staple of Hollywood’s Tarzan films aroused the Hitler regime’s ire and ban. Many Israelis, however, preferred to believe that the true reason for the ban was that Weissmuller’s ancestors were present at the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.[9]

In 1935, shortly after the success of the Weissmuller films with Jewish audiences, quick-acting publishers offered the first translations into Hebrew of the Edgar Rice Burroughs books. Because noncanonical literature was seen as devoid of educational value for the great national struggle, the appearance of these works indicated just how popular Tarzan was.[10] The first stories appeared in the high-quality children’s magazine Eitonenu (Our Paper), edited by Avraham Even-Shoshan, prominent lexicographer and creator of the seminal Hebrew dictionary. Contributions by respected educators and scholars, writings by political leaders such as Theodor Herzl (regarded as the father of Zionism) and important writers such as Chaim Nachman Bialik (called the National Poet for his stirring poetry and promotion of the emerging culture) and articles about Jewish communities around the world set a lofty tone. Publishing the Tarzan stories was meant to increase distribution, but the magazine, with its nationalistic and educational goals, also used the stories to promote the values of valor, independence and resourcefulness—always commendable, but especially during a time of national resurgence.[11]

The success of the translated stories led to new phenomena: original Hebrew stories based on a foreign character and literature. The first appeared in 1939 as part of the series Ha’me’ah ha’esrim (The Twentieth Century) and were mostly written by Shulamit Efroni, the female pen name of David Karsik, who later edited for many years the country’s most widely distributed women’s magazine, La’isha (For the Woman) (Shavit 447). The first story, Tarzan ha’nokem (Tarzan the Avenger), featured Tarzan as the son of a film actor who is lost in the jungle. In search of his father, Tarzan joins two explorers to battle the Amharic [sic] dwellers of a lost city. The story followed the films’ formula of lost explorers, hostile natives and Tarzan’s winning intervention. In it Tarzan falls in love with Helen, who remains with him. The story hinted that she carried their love child, and the publisher promised a follow-up with a focus on the offspring, but it never appeared. In the next years, including during World War II, additional Tarzan stories came out, enjoying great success.


The stories of Tarzan left a strong impression on Israelis growing up in the 1930s and 1940s and influenced the creation of children’s games, as well as encouraging an interest, among children and adults, in Africa. Decades later, writers Amos Oz and Uriel Ofek, recalling their youth, noted this connection. As Oz wrote, there was a yearning to sail to the farthest reaches, “to the heart of Africa, to the origins of the Zambezi River, to struggle alone and brave with a multitude of blood-thirsty natives” (24).[12]

The Burroughs books are concerned to a large degree with issues of otherness and whiteness, and the question of whether Jews can be considered white was an important and much-discussed issue in the first decades of twentieth-century America and Europe; however, the Tarzan stories created during the British Mandate period paid no attention to Tarzan’s skin color. When mass Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe began in the late nineteenth century, many of the newcomers viewed the darker-skinned native inhabitants of the land as superior to the Jews of the Diaspora, healthy and proud, and leading thinkers and novelists such as Achad Ha’am and Moshe Smilansky wrote admiringly of them. Many of the new immigrants, including members of Ha’shomer, the first organized Jewish armed group, adapted native garb, including long flowing Jalabiyas and the Kafiya headgear, and local traditions such as horsemanship.[13]

Some lovers of the Tarzan corpus connected their desire for adventure and the vanquishing of all enemies to the contemporary political realities in the land, seeing the fighting and taming of savage natives in Africa and evil Arabs as parallel to their own experiences in “wild” Palestine. In the chapter “Se’agat Ha’aryeh” (The Roar of the Lion) in Yair, his biography of Avraham Stern, leader of the anti-British resistance group Lechi (known to its enemies as the Stern Gang and branded as terrorist), soldier and novelist Moshe Shamir describes an attack on an Arab cinema in Jerusalem, filled with Tarzan lovers:

This Tarzan is not bad at all as he floats between the gigantic forest trees or exchanges with Jane English words that Arabs too understand. When the lion appears and Tarzan saves Cheetah, the stupid-smart monkey, it is 8:20. A crocodile opens its jaws and steals to shore. Matzlich gets up, takes off his coat, hears some sounds, sits down, places the coat on the seat in front of him—and moves, bent, left, to not disturb, excuse me, once, and twice, and he is out of the row.

The bomber leaves the cinema, and once the incendiary device explodes, his comrades rake the building and the escaping Arabs with gunfire. The Lechi fighters regret not the deaths of the Arab filmgoers but the fact that they themselves were unable to watch the end of the film.[14]

The popularity of the Tarzan films was also illustrated by a widely circulated story about American diplomats on their way to the front who were stopped by two fighters of the elite Palmach unit who commandeered their car and drove back to Tel Aviv so they could catch the latest Tarzan film. As noted by writers Amos Oz, Dan Omer and Amos Kenan, the Jewish soldiers of the 1948 war often felt that they were in the forefront of the battle of good against evil, similar to characters in Hollywood films, and especially Tarzan epics. Shraga Gafni, in his 1950 story Hakrav al Mivtzar Williams (The Battle for the Williams Castle), expressed the native Jewish fighter’s desire to imitate cinema heroes and his inability to distinguish between reality and the mythical Hollywood “reality.” Gafni would later write Tarzan stories.[15]

After the war for independence, the citizens of the new state continued their love affair with Tarzan, but critics emerged. Igal Mozenson, fresh from the bloody struggle, vowed to fight the “damaging” influence of the tales that celebrated a lone foreign hero, marked by his British origins as a member of the colonizing nation that had just been expelled from the land. The result was Chasamba, which became Israel’s most popular children’s adventure series ever. Mozenson created a collective of young heroes, native-born and rooted, who fought bravely against the British, Arabs and common criminals, and of whom several gave their lives for the greater cause. These young literary heroes often made disparaging

remarks about Tarzan, proclaiming that it is better for a nation that its children read their own adventure stories and create their own heroic tales. In response, Ha’karnaf (The Rhinoceros), a major publisher of Tarzan books who was alarmed by possible loss of revenue to these upstarts, created a series extolling another group of patriotic kids fighting the state’s enemies but naming itself Chanmat, an acronym that translates to “youth admiring Tarzan.” These young braves were fond of attributing their fighting skills and courage to what they learned from the adventures of the King of the Jungle.[16]


<A>The Canaanite Tarzan

The mid-1950s saw a boom in the number of Israeli Tarzan booklets with nearly a thousand published within a decade. The long tradition of Hebrew comic books started in the first years of the twentieth century with Olam Katan (Small World), a Hebrew children’s magazine published in Warsaw, and in Israel in 1935 in Etonaynu Le’yeladim (Our Newspaper for Children) with Immanuel Yaffe’s Mickey Mahu ve’eliyahoo (Mickey Mahu and Eliyahoo) modeled on Mickey Mouse.[17]

Whereas the early Tarzan stories were adaptations of the American comics published by Dell, gradually Israeli plots developed, although the covers were true to the originals. In many stories, Tarzan repels invaders from space; time-travels to the past and future; and overcomes monsters, prehistoric relics and others creations of mad scientists (including Auschwitz doctor Josef Mengele) bent on world domination. Characters such as Fu Manchu, Dracula, Frankenstein and Flash Gordon appeared in the comics. Sometimes Tarzan was joined by Captain Marvel—with whom he fought a mob of gangsters turned zombies—or by other superheroes. Some stories described fantastic journeys to the time of the dinosaurs, the first humans (who apparently spoke the language of the great apes), Julius Caesar or the evil emperor Nero, when Tarzan, Spartacus-like, was a gladiator who aided his comrades with a modern pistol. In Tarzan ve’medinat ha’ateed (Tarzan and the Future State), he was hurled into 2078, a century after war has destroyed most of humanity, and the few survivors travel back in time to kidnap and enslave earlier humans, including Tarzan. Deciding that he prefers 1959, he escapes back in the time machine. Another Karnaf title, Tarzan v’eer h’aateed (Tarzan and the Future City), is set in the postatomic year 3958, when Tarzan battles an army of two-headed mutants, robot police and their ruler, a powerful computer.

The market was divided between several companies. The largest, Hakarnaf, owned by the MLN Press, was started in 1953 by author-translator Aharon Amir.[18] The press MLN began flooding the market with stories from new imprints such as Ha’namer (which means “The Tiger”) and Ha’bardales (The Leopard). The wave of Tarzan stories was a response to market demand, perhaps aided by the U.S. Information Service’s campaign to disseminate American popular culture in its Cold War cultural battle against communism. Over three million dollars was pumped into popular publications in the Middle East in the 1950s, including in Israel.[19] To meet readers’ interest, new companies entered the market, notably Ha’peel (The Elephant) and Ramdor (named for publisher Uri Shalgi’s children). In the early 1960s a fan could choose from more than ten competing adaptations, with each company proclaiming its product as the only true version and the others as fake. At one point MLN sued Narkis Publishing, owner of Ha’peel, but the courts determined that anyone who wished could publish Tarzan works. The Burroughs estate never saw a cent in royalties.[20]

Amir later explained that he was motivated by profits, but also by the fact that “Tarzan symbolized vitality and something close to nature.” Amir and most of Ha’karnaf’s writers, including Amos Kenan, Shimon Tzabar, Yeshaayhu Levit, Dani Herman, Elisha Gat and Zafira Levin (the lone woman in a very macho field), were members of the Canaanite movement or ideologically close to it. Through the Tarzan stories they were able to disseminate their worldview and present an idealized man, the model they aspired to and wished to see in the land. The Canaanite movement, comprised of a small but influential group of intellectuals, emerged in the late 1930s and strove to make a radical break with the Jewish past. At a time when many were returning from the Diaspora, the Canaanites denied a link with the Jewry that had developed outside the ancient land in the eighteen hundred years since the expulsion by the Romans.

To paraphrase journalist Ze’ev Galili (the movement’s ideological opponent and a competing Tarzan author), the Canaanites closed their ears to the calls of the rabbis and listened instead to the bells on Hannibal’s elephants marching to conquer Rome. Like Zionists such as Galili, however, the Canaanites also negated Jewish life abroad, viewing it as the record of weak people who had abandoned a productive and healthy existence and gone as sheep to the slaughter throughout the centuries. Both movements sought to fashion a new man—and woman—yet, whereas Zionism looked to religious heritage, the Canaanites regarded territory and language as the basis for a nation. According to them the ancestral land, which they called Kedem (ancient or east), extended from the Euphrates to the Nile and encompassed one people who spoke a form of ancient Hebrew, including Jews, Moabites, Philistines and Phoenician sailors who established the Carthaginian colonies. Calling themselves Ivrim (Hebrews)—“Canaanites” was a term used as an insult by an opponent but they adopted it—these intellectuals felt that the important task was to leave behind nationalistic illusions and reforge the original bonds between the region’s indigenous populations.

The movement’s founders, Uriel Helperin and Adiya Gurewitz, saw themselves as sons of the Fertile Crescent but, like most members of the group, were born in Eastern Europe. To make up for this historical accident, they adopted names of gods and royalty, Horon and Ratosh, respectively, and in their poetry and novels evoked glorious past battles and mythology. Many of the group’s adherents were former members of the anti-British resistance groups Etzel and Lechi, but ranged in their social views across the political spectrum. All opposed the Arab national movement, which they regarded as an artificial and religious-based entity; however, most objected to the expulsion of indigenous people and, after the establishment of the Jewish state, often fought to extend full civil rights to the Palestinians.[21] Scholars have contested their view of the past as idealized, arguing that despite similarities in language and customs, the nations of the region differed significantly. Interestingly, in recent decades several Palestinian writers and thinkers have also claimed the Canaanite past.[22] Although they never numbered more than a few dozen, members of the Canaanite movement were prominent in academia and culture, affording the group an influence beyond its size and resulting in attacks by Zionist thinkers who feared its potential impact.

Johnny Weissmuller and Nimrod the  famous Israeli Statue by Izchak Denzinger from 1939 

The Ha’karnaf authors presented a Tarzan close to their vision of the Tzabar (native-born Israeli) and kin to Nimrod (Figure 7.1), the famous 1939 sculpture by movement member Itzhak Danziger (also born in the despised Diaspora, in Germany). Carved out of sandstone from the Nabattian city of Petra, the 90-centimeter-tall naked white hunter with a bow and a hawk on his shoulder embodied the Canaanites’ ideals. He was named for the Mesopotamian king, called in the Bible the first hunter and in the Midrash the founder of the tower of Babel, hence an embodiment of evil. In some accounts, he pronounced himself God.

The sculpture, commissioned by the Hebrew University, aroused many objections, primarily from religious groups. However, it had a strong impact on secular viewers who responded to its expression of the emerging native: fierce in revolt against God and all other bonds; adept with weapons; a man of the elements, linked to a heroic past.[23] This new Nimrod/Tarzan was a powerful image of how both Zionists and Canaanites saw themselves and the people they hoped would inhabit the land. Named Tzabar (Sabra in English) for the land’s native prickly pear cactus, this ideal was prickly and rough on the outside—successful at repelling enemies and surviving in hostile conditions—but tender inside. As sociologist Oz Almog writes in The Sabra:

When blond, handsome, fearless Yaron Zehavi, commander of the Chasamba gang, defied the evil British policeman Jack Smith, who threatened to throw him and his valiant comrades in jail, how different he seemed from the cowed and pious Diaspora yeshiva boy in Europe! Here was the new Jew, born and bred on his own land, free of the inhibitions and superstitions of earlier ages; even his physique was superior to that of his cousins in the old country. … Zehavi represented what has been described as a sudden and near total sociological revolution that, in a historical instant, produced a new society and culture with its own customs and codes and a new language and literature. (1)[24]

Amos Keinan

Ha’karnaf’s Tarzan stories were presented as original works by several authors, although most were credited to Yovav (an ancient Hebrew word for fear). The publisher even provided a biography of this Yovav, who in reality was Amos Kenan. A journalist, playwright and author of dystopian novels and travelogues, Kenan is known today for his beautiful language, satiric bite and willingness to buck convention. As a member of Lechi he participated in several assassinations of British soldiers and bombings of Palestinian villages, resulting in the murder of many civilians, for which he later expressed regret. He first attained national prominence with his column Uzi ve’shot (Uzi and His Partners) in the leading daily Ha’aretz, between 1950 and 1952, which was written in the language of the young soldiers and shot barbed arrows at corrupt officials and greedy businessmen. In June 1952, Kenan and a former comrade, an explosion expert, were caught by police running from the bombed apartment of the religious minister of transportation, Tzvi David Pinkas. They were charged with attempted murder, motivated by their objection to a government plan to stop car travel on the Sabbath, which the secular public viewed as religious compulsion. The two were acquitted, but Pinkas died of a heart attack three months later and Kenan was fired from his job. He later wrote apocalyptic novels and became one of Israel’s most prominent leftist activists, calling for a peaceful, two-state solution with the Palestinians decades before the idea was common.[25]

After his trial, unemployed and struggling, Kenan was offered a job by his friend, Ha’karnaf editor Aharon Amir. The prolific Kenan would get a new American comic book and within days produce a booklet, adding details as his wild imagination allowed or creating new plots. For a year, Kenan later said, “every week, like a clock I would deliver a story. . . . I do not remember what I wrote, and I would not be able to identify my stories among the large volumes published” (Hadar 85). He said, “I did not grow up on Tarzan stories. It was nonsense then and it is nonsense now. I just wanted to fly to Europe” (Bar Yosef 4). Nevertheless, Kenan’s style and politics are clearly seen in the works.[26]


<A>The Israeli Tarzan

During the height of the Tarzan craze, respected children’s magazine Ha’aretz Shelanu (Our Land) joined the action. It too was motivated by commercial and ideological goals, and its editors, Binyamin Tamuz and Yakov Ashman, were also members of the Canaanite current. The weekly published an illustrated serial, by Dani Platt, and a nonillustrated one, by poet-novelist Pinchas Sadeh. Sadeh, known for his poetic autobiography Ha’chayeem ke’mashal (Life as a Parable)( 1958) , which in contrast to other works of the time celebrated not the collective nationalistic spirit, but the suffering of artists and visionaries, like Blake and Jesus, made a living thanks to his pulp fiction written under various pseudonyms, most often “Yariv Amatzya.” In Tarzan ve’taloomat ha’atom (Tarzan and the Mystery of the Atom; Figure 7.2), the hero fights a mad millionaire who aims to use nuclear radiation on the population. Sadeh later regretted these early stories, dismissing Tarzan as “just a naked Jew floating among trees” (Bar Yosef 5).[27]

         Tales put out by Ha’peel, another major publisher, were written by Miron Uriel, a prolific writer of cowboy yarns and the pornographic “Stalag” stories, set in concentration camps run by sadistic and lustful SS women. In his Tarzan inventions, Uriel adapted freely from “B” movie plots and always followed a formula. A monstrous threat appears—be it a vampire, a mummy or gigantic worms that devour all of the crops, causing mass starvation—and no modern weapon can stop it. After much delay, government leaders realize that only Tarzan can save the world. He springs to action, armed with his knife and just a few other aids: his herd of elephants, who are happy to trample extraterrestrials; his trusted giant eagle, Argos, created by Nazi scientists but now serving the forces of good; his vast knowledge of the forest, which enables him to unleash various deadly plants on the enemy; and of course his skill and courage. The stories showed that the human brain and will are always superior to the most sophisticated technologies.[28]


Tarzan readers tended to be in their early teens, as evidenced by letters to the editor. Ezra Narkis, Ha’peel’s publisher, claimed that there were also fans in their twenties and that these favored the science fiction themes (Narkis). Noting the identification of many young readers with Boy, Ha’peel created two series around his character. In Boy ve’machriv ha’olamot (Boy and the Destroyer of the Worlds) he teamed up with Flash Gordon. Jane appeared merely as a mother figure constantly worried for her two men, Tarzan and Boy. This limited role was reflected in other Tarzan works, and was in line with the secondary importance accorded to Israeli women at the time. Much lip service was paid to the strides made by Israeli women but, as elsewhere, they lacked political power and influence.[29]

In the late 1950s Tarzan became an Israeli agent , taking an active role in pivotal historical events. To add credibility, real leaders appeared in the stories, including the Dali Lama, the Shah of Iran, Saudi monarch Faisal and Prime Minister Golda Meir, whom in a later radio play Tarzan rescues from the cooking pot of African cannibals. Several plots relived the days of the heroic struggle for independence. In Tarzan nilcham ba’brittem (Tarzan Fights the British), Tarzan visits the British governor of Kenya, who remarks on a medal of the Ha’hgana, the main Jewish underground movement, worn by a monkey. This allows Tarzan to recall his adventures during the waning days of the British Mandate, when he helped illegal ships carrying Holocaust survivors to break through the naval blockade. Arrested, he was sent to the notorious Acre prison (made famous in the West in the film Exodus as the prison from which Ari Ben Canaan, aka Paul Newman, led the escape). Rescued by Jane, Tarzan receives the medal later worn by his jungle friend (no mention is made of Jane’s having been awarded anything).

As the new state emerged from British rule and from its victorious war against the Palestinian population and Arab nations, the chief enemy became Egypt, led at the time by Gamal Abdel Nasser. The charismatic Pan-Arabist leader became the subject of Israeli songs, jokes and effigies that rivaled those of Hitler as the most popular to set ablaze during the holiday of Lag Ba’omer. Nasser’s attempts to unify the Arab world were of great concern in Israel, and it was only natural that Tarzan would join the fight against him and his followers. In Ha’peel’s Tarzan ve’totach ha’raketot (Tarzan and the Rocket Cannon), as a countermeasure to Israel’s nuclear arsenal, the Soviet Union has supplied Egypt with an atomic weapon that can hit any target on Earth. Nasser announces that unless Israel allows all Palestinian refugees to return to their former homes within twenty-four hours he will attack. Tarzan, who supports the state of Israel, decides on his own to stop this plan. In the process of destroying the powerful weapon, he demolishes a military base, killing several thousand Egyptians. 

The Suez crisis of 1956 found its narrative in Tarzan be’tealat Suez (Tarzan in the Suez Canal; Figure 7.3). Tarzan answers the call from the Israeli ambassador to Africa to smash the Egyptians’ blockade of the strategically vital waterway and defiantly sails through, killing multitudes of Egyptians in the process. 



Figure 7.3 Tarzan be’tealat Suez (Tarzan in the Suez Canal), written by Yovav (Amos Kenan).

In these stories, Arabs were almost always portrayed as one-dimensional evil characters, in line with contemporary depictions, both in textbooks and in children’s literature. Daniel Bar-Tal and Yona Teichman’s analysis of 124 textbooks used between 1950 and 1970 reveals that almost uniformly Arabs were described as “unenlightened, inferior, fatalistic, unproductive and apathetic, tribal, vengeful, exotic, poor, sick, dirty, noisy, colored” (483), also bloodthirsty, cruel and immoral and intent on hurting Jews and annihilating the state of Israel. In contrast, Jews were presented as hardworking, brave and determined to improve the land that had been neglected and destroyed by the Arabs until Jews returned from their forced exile, a perspective that delegitimized Arabs’ right to the place and justified their removal. Adir Cohen’s study of over seventeen hundred Israeli children’s books written after the 1967 war substantiated the predominance of negative portrayals.[30]

Some Tarzan booklets did go beyond these negative portrayals. In Tarzan ve’HAOIVIM MEKHAIR  (Tarzan and the ENEMIS FRM CAIRO, Hassan al Samir is a kind, courageous officer from a poor family who has advanced in the Egyptian army ranks. He hates bloodshed, but gradually he changes and agrees to torture the regime’s opponents. A more positive view can be found in Kenan’s stories. IN tarzan mazil et jan meabu Ali ( tarzan saves jan from Abu Ali ) Describing Abu Ali, an Arab slave trader, he writes, “If the prophet Muhammad, whose soldiers invaded Africa in the seventh century, had known that the descendant of one of his soldiers would be Abu Ali, it is doubtful that he would have invaded, and if he had known the acts Abu Ali would commit, he would have expelled him from the community of believers” (Kenan4. Unlike most Tarzan writers of the time, Kenan distinguished between the deeds of one man and a society, showing that evil does not represent the Arab nation but is in contrast to its values.


Additional stories focusing on the Israeli–Arab conflict were written by well-known writer Shraga Gafni, using the pen name “Avner Carmeli.” His twelve-book series about a group of young Israeli fighters included Tarzan ve’habalashim ha’tze’erim portzeem le’Mifraz Schlomo (The Young Detectives and Tarzan Raid Solomon’s Strait). On a state mission, the heroes team up with Tarzan, who helps them destroy an Egyptian atomic submarine and kill Egyptian slave traders. Tarzan defeats an American wrestler who plays him in an Egyptian film, marries a woman named Mary Brockburn and promises his young friends he will settle in Israel when that land grows more trees he can swing from (Eshed 107–8). The influence of the many patriotic Tarzan stories on Israeli youth was shown in a 1960 article by scholar Ma’tama Kashti, who recalled that his former student was a soldier in the Sinai war who claimed to have captured a platoon of Egyptian soldiers using combat tricks he learned from his Tarzan readings (786).

The struggles against colonial powers and dictators were an important historical development of the time, and here too Tarzan was at the forefront. In stories published throughout the 1960s, Tarzan rushes to help Angolans battling thPORTUGUESE

TARZAN VECAPITAN Galabau  (TARZAN AND CAPITAN GALABAU Tibetans facing the Chinese (Tarzan ve’mordei Tibe [Tarzan and the Rebels of Tibet]), Biafrans opposing the Nigerian army (Tarzan ve’lochamey Biafra [Tarzan and the Fighters of Biafra]) and opponents of the murderous dictator Trujillo of the Dominican Republic (Tarzan me’cholel ha’mahapecha [Tarzan Instigates the Revolution]). During the Cold War, the Israeli Tarzan fights Russian agents and also Chinese scientists who build a Uranium-processing plant in the jungle and keep the natives doped on opium. At times Tarzan resembles Che Guevara, galloping to join wherever a revolution is brewing, but avoiding the Argentinean doctor’s fate.

Whereas many Israelis sympathized with other peoples fighting for independence, the country was receiving arms from the colonial powers France and England and joined them in the 1956 Suez campaign. This ambivalence is reflected in the stories: they express joy at African liberation, but occasionally Tarzan fights on the side of the white settlers. In Tarzan ve’haneshek me’Oran (Tarzan and the Weapons from Oran), he prevents Arab smugglers from selling weapons to the anti-French Algerian underground, and in Tarzan ve’lochamey ha’chofesh (Tarzan and the Freedom Fighters), he fights the Congolese rebels and helps Belgian settlers escape. He repeats this in Kenya, in Tarzan ve’hapeel ha’dores (Tarzan and the Rampaging Elephant), opposing the Mau Mau fighters. These feared rebels also appear in Tarzan ve’mordey ha’dom dom (Tarzan and the Dom Dom Rebels), in which the Ape-Man defeats them and the national leader, Jomo Kenyatta. However, in Nikmato shel Tarzan (Tarzan’s Revenge), Kenyatta is introduced as an old friend and Tarzan helps him and his troops defeat white mercenaries. Sometimes Tarzan himself is ambivalent: he aids the British trying to hold on to Cyprus in Tarzan ve’anshey Kafrisin (Tarzan and the People of Cyprus), but voices his understanding of the rebels’ cause.

After helping African liberation, Tarzan introduces Western ideas of democracy and progress and teaches the locals new agricultural methods. This mission corresponded with Israel’s efforts in the early 1960s to reach out to the new African states with agricultural and industrial expertise as well as train students and future leaders in Israel. In Pinchas Sadeh’s Tarzan ve’ta’aloomat ha’atom (Tarzan and the Mystery of the Atom), Tarzan joins the European heiress Elizabeth, who “decided to devote her life for the sake of suffering humanity, and specifically the people of Africa” (16) and who works as a nurse in the medical clinic she built. He also helps run an agricultural cooperative, led by the kibbutz member Yoske Aloni. At night, after tending to the sick, Elizabeth teaches Israeli folk dancing and Tarzan joins in the festivities.

In several stories published by Narkis from 1959 to 1961, Tarzan represents a newly independent African country in the Olympics, defeating and humiliating racist white athletes and proving that the new states can take their rightful place in the community of nations. In one, he is the central forward of Rhodesia’s integrated soccer team and the world’s best footballer ever, leading his team to Mundial glory. The best athlete in the world is still a white man, but these tales of racial cooperation, published so soon after the bloody revolutions, presented harmonious scenes worthy of postapartheid South Africa, which mitigated some of the more problematic racial features of Burroughs’s stories.[31]

The commercial success from melding current affairs with Tarzan’s heroics led to several Tarzan imitators. The best known was Tel Aviv youth Dan Moked, known as Dan Tarzan. The twenty-nine installments about Dan Moked put out by Atlas were mostly written by Ze’ev Galili. Journalist and editor of Herut, the paper of the largest right-wing party, Galili later claimed that the project began as a reaction to what he felt were the anti-Zionist messages of MLN’s publications. “What especially made me mad was the fact that every story contained a moral with an Israeli-leftist message. I decided that I could invent equally good stories containing nationalistic message” (Galili, personal interview). The result was a series laden with patriotism and adventure. To heighten the mystique and increase sales, every issue claimed that “the author, as part of his job, is privy to certain operations that the less said about them the better.” The young hero, Dan, has been raised on Tarzan stories. When he survives a plane crash in the African jungle, he is able to use the skills he learned, including how to communicate with animals. He is raised by the great apes and adopted by the granddaughter of Kala, Tarzan’s simian mother. In 1948, when word of the establishment of the state of Israel reaches him, Dan decides to return. He arrives after a danger-filled eight-year journey, just in time for the Sinai military campaign, and joins the Israeli Intelligence Services.

Dan Tarzan rushed to the rescue whenever the state or its citizens were in danger. The plots often connected to political events of the day, such as the work of German scientists in Egypt in the early 1960s, which raised great concern in Israel, prompting actions by the Mossad. Dan prevents Nazi scientists from building an atomic bomb, and he foils Egypt’s attempts to incite Congolese rebels, attack the Israeli Olympic team, kill the 1960 U.S. presidential candidates Nixon and Kennedy and halt the production of the pro-Zionist film Exodus, which it deems a great danger to the Arab cause.

In the most popular issue, Dan Tarzan ve’haposhea ha’nazi (Dan Tarzan and the Nazi Criminal; Figure 7.4), Dan took on “Rudolf Teichmann,” a not-too subtle reference to Adolf Eichmann, who had been kidnapped and brought to Israel shortly before, and whose image appeared on the cover. After hearing from a Holocaust survivor that the escaped mass murderer, one of the architects of the Final Solution, is hiding in Chile, Dan gets the green light from the Israeli authorities to capture him. In Santiago he presents himself as an Egyptian merchant eager to help exterminate Jews and joins the local Nazi organization. He befriends former SS men, who send him to the Fuehrer Hotel, where he meets Teichmann. Feigning to offer Teichmann money to finance his manufacture of poisonous gas to complete the task begun during the war, Dan overcomes the war criminal, drugs him and smuggles him on a plane to Israel, hidden in a gigantic drum. The Egyptians manage to free Teichmann, but Dan recaptures him and brings him to justice. At the time of publication, accounts of the Mossad’s capture of Eichmann were scarce, as government censorship laws were strictly enforced. Rumors circulated that the booklet contained accurate details, which aided sales. In the years since the capture, various agents and Nazi-hunters have squabbled over who should receive the credit and glory. Perhaps Dan Tarzan was indeed the hero.

Figure 7.4 Dan Tarzan ve’haposhea ha’nazi (Dan Tarzan and the Nazi Criminal) written by Ze’ev Galili.

At the time, Israelis were keenly interested in archeology and lost Jewish tribes, and discoveries were used to bolster claims to the land and its ancient past. Not surprisingly, several of Dan’s exploits are a response to this interest. In Otzrot ha’melech Schlomo (King Solomon’s Treasures), Israeli archeologists discover a scroll that shows the African location of the treasure. Long before Indiana Jones, Dan visits the lost tribe of the Falashim, who are guarding the monarch’s riches until the Third Temple is built. He convinces them to transfer the treasure to Israel and along the way fights Jordanian agents. In another tale, Dan is on a mission to retrieve Dead Sea Scrolls that the Jordanians have unearthed. He discovers a lost city inhabited by descendants of Bar Kochva, leader of the failed second-century revolt against the Romans. Isolated from the modern world, they speak ancient Hebrew and believe that the dreaded Roman Empire still rules the land. Dan leads them to the modern state of Israel, their rightful home—a mission that the reading public, ever eager to discover lost Jewish tribes, could relate to.

Another popular Tarzan imitation was Danidin ha’roeah ve’eno nireh ba’jungle (The Invisible Dani Din in the Jungle), by Shraga Gafni, this time writing under the name “On Sarig.” This series told of a child who accidently becomes invisible and uses his newfound powers to fight Israel’s enemies. He travels to Zimbabwe, where he finds a young Israeli, Shiran, who is leader of a tribe of gorillas. The two defeat a band of serial murderers and the lion Numa (Eshed 109–13).

Rabchi Kamal Syrian Tarzan author

Whereas Israelis shaped Tarzan and his imitators to express their needs and fantasies, the Arab world also responded to the archetype, with some unique variations. Booklets appeared in Syria and Lebanon in the 1930s and continued in Arab lands into the 1980s. Many were written by Rabchi Kamal, who in the 1940s studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and attended several Canaanite meetings, where he met some of the Israeli Tarzan writers, including Yeshaayhu Levit (who later became a member of the Israeli army intelligence services and a radio commentator on Arab affairs). After the 1948 war, Kamal moved to Syria and for decades broadcasted Hebrew-language programs on Radio Damascus, becoming a subject of parodies and jokes in Israel for his passionate style, thick accent and creative mangling of Hebrew. In Kamal’s stories, Tarzan helps the Palestinians thwart Israeli plots—similar to those in the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion—to rule the world. Unfortunately, Tarzan could not leap to the rescue of Kamal himself, who during one of the power struggles of the ruling Ba’ath party was accused of being an Israeli spy and executed (Levit).


Tarzan films were also popular in Egypt, resulting in the 1958 spoof Yasin Ismael Tarzan (the first two names are those of the film’s creator, a beloved actor and director). The comedy skewered the pretentions of Egypt’s upper classes. A contested will requires that a greedy family find the deceased’s son, who had disappeared into the jungle two decades earlier. When they find him, he is chubby, sports a long mustache and has gone native, but he agrees to return to Cairo, bringing along his jealous fiancée, a female Cheeta. The energetic, simple character has difficulty adjusting to the city and its lazy and conniving residents, but all ends well for Tarzan and his newfound love, a kind young woman. Cheeta, however, is left heartbroken.[32] In the 1960s the Egyptian Ministry of Culture sought to ban the screening of Tarzan films, claiming that they “perfected a colonialist outlook … introduced imperialist ideals in achieving fictional mastery over the jungle … presented Africa and Africans in an unsympathetic or patronizing light” (Nestby 40). It was also suggested that Tarzan was a CIA agent. The Egyptian public, though, ignored such admonitions and continued its love affair with Tarzan (Vernon 30).

In 1960s Yemen, the films and booklets were important examples of the newly available Western culture. As scholar James R. Nestby notes, they connected to older Arabian stories about feral humans, including Ibn Sina’s Salaman and Ibn Tufayl’s Yaqzan. The latter was also nursed by an animal, a doe. Stories about the fierce Antar also evoke Tarzan. Nestby wonders if Burroughs knew these traditions and combined the “tar” of Antar with the “zan” of Yaqzan to form his character’s name.

Tarzan also had imitators in the Arab world, the most well liked in the figure of Akim. Burroughs was rarely given credit for the tale, which was attributed to local writers such as Faris Dhaher, a professor in Beirut’s Academy of Sciences. Tarzan’s popularity in the Arab world is surprising in light of the works’ negative portrayals of blacks and Arabs.[33] Whereas Tarzan’s resistance to European invaders, intent on looting the jungle’s riches and enslaving its people, resonated with Arabs’ anticolonialist sentiments, this is just a partial explanation. As scholar-activists Edward Said and Frantz Fanon show, there are added personal and ideological layers. The Palestinian Said notes in Jungle Calling, a eulogy upon Johnny Weissmuller’s death, the racist portrayals and “manufacture of exoticism” (329; although he distinguishes between Burroughs’s works and the films). However, as a child in 1940s Cairo, Said was mesmerized by the films. Tarzan was part and protector of nature and a source of identification: “He was a great hero of mine—I longed to be like him … he didn’t seem to come from anywhere … the films were really about a waif and not this tremendous hero. There was something pathetic about him—which I could identify with, in a funny sort of way” (328). Having left the Middle East for America after the 1948 war, Said maintained his affinity with the orphan and immigrant “in permanent exile,” even as he achieved prominence as a fierce critic of Orientalism.

Fanon, a psychiatrist and author of The Wretched of the Earth and of Black Skins, White Masks, described how in his native Martinique black viewers cheered Tarzan as he battled fellow Africans. In France, however, immigrant African viewers were disturbed by the stories’ message of white supremacy. In one country, notes Fanon, Tarzan was seen as a hero trying to protect the natural order against those who would disturb it, whereas in the other he was regarded as a racial enemy (Said 333–34).

In the mid-1960s global and Israeli demand for Tarzan adventures waned. Ramdor tried to spark interest by introducing a new kind of Tarzan, a secret agent in the mold of James Bond and the publisher’s Korean American CIA operator Patrick Kim. Like the adventures of those macho men, the new works were full of car chases and sex with voluptuous enemy women. They were created by translator Eliezer Carmi and writers Eyal Meged and Yakov Danziger but did not enjoy much success. The few works published in the 1970s were translations of American comics or reprints. Ofer Lehavi, a fan, tried to update the language of the Hakarnaf works of the 1950s, but the public was uninterested. As Israeli society fast became more modern, more materialistic, the old heroes, fighting for the collective good, were forgotten. Readers discovered new heroes and passions, many of them television and video game related.[34]

When Weissmuller and Tarzan have reappeared, it has been mostly in a nostalgic vein. The actor, who, according to news accounts in the early 1980s, was senile and roaring repeatedly his famous call in his California nursing home, was portrayed in several novels, including Sippur masa: le’havie et Johnny Weissmuller le’Africa (Journey Story: Bringing Johnny Weissmuller to Africa), by Yakov Shavit. Three Israeli adults, recalling their lost youth of which Tarzan was an important part, journey to Weissmuller’s nursing home, intent on kidnapping him and returning him to his real home, Africa, so he can die as befits the King of the Jungle

cartoon image

. Similarly, the comic Beit k’varot le’pillem (Elephant Cemetery), by Tomer Hanuka, portrays the dying action hero dreaming of his imaginary life as Tarzan.[35] In several works the early tales and films evoke memories in elderly people who have lost their former idealism and vitality. In Nava Semel’s Isha al niyar (A Bride on Paper), the narrator, Uzik, as a youth had a learning disability and hated reading, but loved film, especially Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan films. Sixty years later, Uzik, a filmmaker, tries to recapture his lost youth.

Several Israeli authors of varied backgrounds, ­Iraqi born and native, raised in a slum and on a kibbutz, Ashkenazi and Sephardic, fans from the 1930s, 1960s or 1980s—have connected Weissmuller’s death to the end of their own childhoods, mourning also the fundamental changes in Israeli society and the end of the nation’s perceived innocence. These works include the novel Chayot al ha’derech (Animals on the Road) by Ori Bernstein and poems by Moshe Dor (who wrote a nostalgic elegy upon the actor’s death) and Roni Somek (whose poem “Johnny” expressed the actor’s death as a symbol of a long-gone era and of how “the land of Israel does not live here anymore”). Similarly, Amos Telshir’s Tarzan yofeah pitom (Tarzan Will Suddenly Appear) centers on youths from the desert town of Be’er Sheva growing up amidst poverty, ethnic strife and violence. In their pervasive sense of hopelessness, they long for Tarzan to appear and make things better.[36]

The 1999 Disney film Tarzan enjoyed success in Israel, but several ultraorthodox Jewish groups protested what they considered its indecent images and morally lax values, defacing posters of the scantily clad hero. Representatives of the National Committee for the Prevention of Indecent Publications in the Holy Land objected to Tarzan’s relying only on his own physical strength and not acknowledging God’s guidance. However, the Tarzan booklets that were republished did attract a religious readership. The head of a religious school in the town of Beit Shean discovered students enjoying the works and attempted to censor their reading. The secular media and public regarded his interference as another manifestation of the ongoing contentious culture wars. Among the objections to the censorship, Michael Kishka’s cartoon of Tarzan dressed as a religious school student received wide distribution. Another objection to the film came from Yeshaayhu Levit, former writer of Tarzan stories, who complained that “Walt Disney’s Tarzan was made into a pretty boy, in the spirit of the politically correct. Tarzan is male machismo. That is how he was, and that is how he shall remain” (Hadar 82–87).

In the last decades several international authors have employed Tarzan to address social issues, such as class and gender, often subverting the genre.[37] In 2004, Tarzan appeared onstage in satirist Ephraim Sidon’s play Tarzan and Jane, starring some of the country’s most famous actors. For the first time in an Israeli adaptation, Jane is at the center of the action, saving Tarzan from kidnappers who want to display him in a circus and from other dangers. This Jane recalls the one in P. J. Harvey’s song “Me Jane”: “Damn your chest-beating just you stop your screaming / Splitting through my head and swinging from the ceiling / Move it over Tarzan…. Don’t you ever stop and give me time to breathe in.”[38]

In his 1999 article “Dan Tarzan and His Battle against the Canaanites,” Ze’ev Galili, right-wing author of the Dan Tarzan stories, lamented:

[L]ooking back it appears that in the struggle over the soul of Israel’s youth, the Canaanite Tarzan of Aharon Amir and Amos Kenan defeated the nationalistic values of Dan Tarzan. If Dan were alive today, he would have been expelled from the Mossad. He would have been blamed for our failures in capturing Mishal or in Cyprus. They would have said that he is already fat and balding and unfit for the job. They would also whisper behind his back that he still believes in the mission of the state of Israel and does not understand that we must accept a Palestinian state. (4)

Galili’s view has yet to be tested. In a recent television adaptation of Chasamba, Tarzan’s old rivals for the hearts of Israeli children are now in their late seventies, still fighting the good fight. Undaunted by occasional memory lapses, incontinence or other age-related obstacles, aided by their grandchildren, they answer the leader’s call to battle their old nemesis, Zurkin, head of a ruthless company whose cell phones cause cancer.

In the last hundred years, Tarzan has been adapted by Israeli writers and the public, changing along the way to accommodate evolving tastes and values. In the years to come, will greedy tycoons and corrupt politicians force Tarzan out of retirement? Will threats posed by Hamas, Hezbollah and Iranian nuclear weapons compel him to respond as he did against the enemies of old? Or will he ignore such patriotic calls and fall in with the new individualistic, materialistic values of Israeli society? The Zionist heroes, who were once the farmer, the worker and the soldier, have been cast aside—replaced by the fashion model, the TV personality and the start-up entrepreneur. The Tarzan of the new millennium might be one of these, attired in Italian designer outfits, driving a Hummer and speaking smoothly the language of commodities and junk bonds. Whether he will choose a path of hedonistic pleasure or swing into action to fight for the collective good is yet to be seen. What is certain is that the land of Israel has not heard the last call of Tarzan.


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[4] See Davidon.

[5] See Holtsmark.

[6] On Jews and physical culture, see Brenner and Reuvani and Kritzler.

[7] On Abe Coleman see–jewish-tarzan-still-pleases-crowds.html (accessed 6 December 2010). On Ludwig Fainberg, see (accessed 30 November 2010).

[8] On the Bar Kochva revolt as myth, see Zerubavel.

[9] On Tarzan in Nazi Germany, see M. Cohen.

[10] See Z. Shavit.

[11] See Siton.

[12] See also Ofek, Sheva tachanot veod tachana. On the interest in Africa, see Tamir.

[13] See Davidson and Penslar.

[14] See Shamir.

[15] On Shraga Gafni, see Eshed, Me’Tarzan ve’ad zbeng.

[16] On Chasamba see Ofek, Me’Tarzan ve’ad Chasamba and Eshed, Me’Tarzan ve’ad zbeng.

[17] On the history of Hebrew comics, see Eshed, Me’Tarzan ve’ad zben 258–99.

[18] See Amir.

[19] On the use of Tarzan during the Cold War, see Vernon 38–49.

[20] See Levit and Narkis.

[21] On the Canaanite movement, see Diamond and Y. Shavit, The Hebrew Nation. For a biography of movement cofounder Ratosh, see Porat.

[22] For a Palestinian perspective of the movement and its ideas, see Ra’ad. Some Palestinians today regard themselves as descendants of the original Canaanites. Poets Mahmoud Darwish (in such poems as “Anat’s Ways”) and Achmed Chasin have given literary expression to the connection. See also Whitlam. For a study showing cultural identities as relational and too fluid to be mapped in terms of distinct, homogeneous groups, see Jones.

[23] On the sculpture’s impact on Israeli art and culture, see the film Ha-heder: Nimrod: Yitshak Danziger. For the many appearances of Nimrod in ancient and modern works, see Van der Horst and Van der Toorn. Among these are Dante’s Divine Comedy, where Nimrod is a giant, one of the guardians of the ninth circle of Hell; Nicaraguan poet Ruben Darío’s “To Roosevelt,” where Nimrod represents the imperial expansion of the US; and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, where he is a serial killer. In modern Israel, a popular line of sandals is named for the hero.

[24] On the creation of the new Jew, see Almog, The Sabra. On the changing fortunes of the Sabra, see Almog, Peredah mi’srulik.

[25] On Amos Kenan, see Geertz.

[26] After Amir left Ha’karnaf’s editorship and founded in 1958 what quickly became Israel’s leading literary magazine, Keshet, the quality of Ha’karnaf’s offerings declined.

[27] On Pinchas Sadeh and his work, see Ben Ezer.

[28] Another well-known creator, Asher Dickstein, the most important and prolific comics artist in Israel in the first decades of the state, worked for Ha’aretz Shelanu and Davar Le’yeladim. However, his Tarzan comics’ plots had no connection to Israeli locations and themes.

[29] On Israeli women of the time, see Hasan-Rokem and Shilo; Fuchs. On Tarzan and women, see Vernon 81–105; Jurca.

[30] See Bar-Tal and Teichman. On Israeli schoolchildren’s attitudes toward Palestinians, see Cohen; Yogev. In the years since the 1993 Oslo agreements there have been attempts by liberal Israeli ministers of education and teachers to recognize and honor Palestinian experiences and identity. As the fall 2010 furor over Sha’ar Ha’negev high school’s having adopted a textbook presenting both Zionist and Palestinian contrasting narratives has shown, there is still a long way to go. Students, teachers and administrators of the school have tried to resist the political interference. See (accessed 2 January 2011).

[31] The literature on racist elements of Tarzan stories and films is extensive. See Bergelund; Cheyfitz; and Torgovnick.

[32] On the film Tarzan Ismail Yassin, see (accessed 21 June 2010).

[33] See the introduction in Haslam.

[34] On the changes in Israeli society, see Segev; Ram.

[35] See Shavit, Sippur masa; Hanuka.

[36] See Bernstein; Somek.

[37] Two recent examples are Tormad Haugen’s The Cry from the Jungle, where a lonely boy is helped by old Tarzan books to get closer to his father, and Troil Thorstad Hauger’s Tarzan in the Attic, where a girl gains independence after being transported into the books. See Romoren.

[38] On the musical Tarzan and Jane see Eshed,  “Tarzan and Jane”; “Me Jane.”


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