Articles

Articles

Nation-Building from the Perspective of Public Opinion/ Dana Blander

This article looks at nation-building in Israel from the perspective of public opinion research in an attempt to enrich the discourse surrounding that period. To achieve this, we studied the research carried out by the Israel Institute for Applied Social Research (IIASR) among the Jewish population from 1949 to 1951. Early public opinion polls addressed key issues shaping the developing nation’s character. We will examine two issues in particular: immigrant absorption and economic policy. Our analysis examines the Institute’s research on two levels – manifest and latent. The manifest level is concerned with the content of the studies, i.e., public attitudes to such fundamental questions as immigration and economy. The latent level looks at the ways in which the methodology and questions employed by the polls may themselves reflect the dominant perceptions and values of Israeli society at the time. Ultimately, through our analyses of the Israeli experience of nation-building (as reflected in opinion polls) we suggest a developmental dimension to the process of nation-building. 

 

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Homeownership Extension Policy in Israel during the 90s: Capitalism Sponsored by Government Intervention?/ Gilat Benchetrit and Daniel Czamanski

 

 

 

 

 

The State of Israel is a country of immigrants, yet it retains a comparatively high rate of home-ownership. The high rate of home-ownership is the result of policies created to foster home-ownership, which have been supported by the Israeli government since the establishment of the state. The paper attempts to begin a discussion on the appropriateness of this policy given current circumstances and provides the framework required for such a discussion: It reviews different tools of subsidy used by governments in the housing markets, and the critical analysis of each tool; it also reviews different arguments for and against home-ownership promotion policies. Israel’s housing policies have promoted home-ownership among recent immigrants through the allocation of governmental subsidized mortgages. From one standpoint, this policy has resulted in an unprecedented home-ownership rate among recent immigrants; but from another, the injection of governmental subsidized mortgages to the housing market has resulted in price rise and distortion. This paper suggests that in spite of the socialist intent that conceived homeownership promotion policies in Israel, these policies ultimately don’t serve the interests of low-income groups and concludes with the recommendation that alternative housing policies should be created. 

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Taboos, Dreams and Desires: Haredi Conceptions of Militarism and the Military/ Nurit Stadler

In this article, I analyze the ways in which Haredi yeshiva students reflect upon their exemption from military service. I argue that through this kind of examination we learn not only about their changing relationship with Israeli state and society, but also about their critical views of religious authority, life in the yeshiva and their aspirations for a different religious model. The analysis of Haredi views about the army reveals a complex and unique interpretation composed of three aspects: the idealistic vision of Ben Torah, the critique on the yeshiva-based religiosity and the military fantasies. In the article I suggest that yeshiva students seek to restore the equilibrium between the corporeal and the sacred, and that the army represents a potential arena for experiencing freedom, adventure, hedonism and release. The desire to participate in the army results from a wish to undergo religious trials that are not intellectual, theoretical or textual, (like the activities that characterize the contemporary yeshiva world) but physical, material and heroic. Moreover, participation in the army entails involvement with all that is defined as taboo in the Haredi society, and transgressing the boundaries of impurity. The desire for participation in the army serves as an arena for experimenting with new ideas of religiosity and faith. This change is suggested by active religious agents, who, in the process of reflecting upon their religious situations criticize, doubt and undermine their current religiosity. 

 

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Leaving Haredi Society and its Diachronous Reflection in Life Stories (1948-1998)/ Sarit Barzilai

This article examines a trend towards the questioning of belief and subsequent departure from ultra-orthodox society over the period between the establishment of the State of Israel and the late 1990`s. The article is based upon the life stories of men and women, ages 15 to 70, who left the ultra-orthodox community between 1948 and 1998. This diachronic voyage of those leaving ultra-orthodox communities reveals the transition from the terminating, irreconcilable rift approach, which pervades the stories of those leaving the fold in the 1950`s, to the continuity approach, with nebulous, open boundaries, more typically found in the stories told by those leaving from the 1960`s forward. The personal life stories collated during this research are not idiosyncratic, but are expressions of cultural links; they are affected by those links and at the same time are an integral part of their construction. Careful scrutiny of the relationships between religious and secular, as seen through the eyes of those "leaving the fold" reveals a trend towards a blurring of the borders between the two societies. 

 

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Border People: The story of Palestinian Work Migrants at the Age of Oslo/ Meirav Aharon-Gutman

Based on ethnographic research among Palestinian migrant workers who commute to Israel from the territory of the Palestine Authority I suggest that there is an ambivalence that has found no expression in public discussion since Oslo. Such expressions as “an end to the conflict”, “peace” and “permanent agreement” have become commonplace. However, these people reveal the underside of the “new Middle East”, Middle East from below. Their daily migration, which appears to link Gaza to Jaffa and Tel Aviv into one space of action, challenges the “tool box” of conventional discourse concerning identity, nationality and work migration. The article suggests the existence of a third culture, a border culture, and analyses it in the framework of parallel and contradictory processes of meeting and separation. 

 

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What is a Ghetto? Constructing a Sociological Concept/ Loic Wacquant

 Although the social sciences have made extensive use of the term “ghetto” as a descriptive term, they have failed to forge a robust analytical concept of the same, relying instead on the folk notions taken for granted at each epoch in the society under examination. This article constructs a relational concept of the ghetto as a Janus-faced instrument of ethnoracial closure and control by drawing on the historiography of the Jewish diaspora in Renaissance Europe, the sociology of the black American experience in the Fordist metropolis, and the anthropology of ethnic outcasts in East Asia. This reveals that a ghetto is a social-organizational device composed of four elements (stigma, constraint, spatial confinement, and institutional encasement) that employs space to reconcile the two antinomic purposes of economic exploitation and social ostracization. Articulating the concept of ghetto makes it possible to clarify the structural and functional differences between ghettos and ethnic clusters, and to point at the kinship between the ghetto and other institutions for the forced confinement of dispossessed and dishonored groups such as the reservation, the refugee camp, and the prison.

 

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Taken from: Al Ha'esh (On the Fire) / Nir Avieli, Vol. 14 No.1

Taken From: Dancers in Iron Age Israel ca. 1200-600 BCE / Batyah Schachter, Vol. 13 No. 2

Taken From: Dancers in Iron Age Israel ca. 1200-600 BCE / Batyah Schachter, Vol. 13 No. 2

Taken from: Display of Institutional Power between Race and Gender / Noa Hazan, Vol. 14 No. 2