ABSTRACT

Landing at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, it did not take long for us to come across an example that illustrated the complicated relationship between Israeli and Arab-Palestinian national identities and cultures. After spending only a couple of minutes in Israel, in the airport’s long corridor, alongside airport security, escalators and drinking fountains, we found a 10 meter long bill-board style advertisement that included everything we needed to start our investigation into national symbols. The large indoor billboard was an advertisement for Eldan, a local car rental company and one of country’s most popular firms. Established in Israel in 1967, it was an excellent representation of the patriotic and national spirit of Israeli society following the war of June that year. Its founder, Yoseph Dahan, who served as an officer in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) ordnance corps, wanted to establish a proud, made-in-Israel, nation-wide car rental company. This is evident in the company’s name ‘Eldan’, which means ‘to Dan’, after the name of the ancient city of Dan, known in the Bible as the northernmost city of the Kingdom of Israel. Along with its somewhat loaded name, the company’s logo – the name ‘Eldan’ printed in Hebrew and English using blue and white colours (the colours of the Israeli flag), which Dahan chose to underline in order to signify that his company is ‘really blue and white’.2