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Israeli Identities

Israeli Identities: Jews and Arabs Facing the Self and the Other

Yair Auron
Translated by Geremy Forman
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 300
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  • Book Info
    Israeli Identities
    Book Description:

    The question of identity is one of present-day Israel's cardinal and most pressing issues. In a comprehensive examination of the identity issue, this study focuses on attitudes toward the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora; the Holocaust and its repercussions on identity; attitudes toward the state of Israel and Zionism; and attitudes toward Jewish religion. Israeli Arab students (Israeli Palestinians) and Jewish Israeli students were asked corresponding questions regarding their identity. It was found that, rather than lessening its impact over the years, the Holocaust has become a major factor, at times the paramount factor in Jewish identity. Similarly, among Palestinians the Naqba has become a major factor in Palestinian-Israeli identity. However, the overall results show that the identity of a Jewish citizen of Israel is not purely Israeli, nor is it purely Jewish. It is, to varying degrees, a synthesis of Jewish and Israeli components, depending on the particular sub-groups or sub-identities. The same holds for Israeli-Arabs or Israeli-Palestinians who have neither a purely Israeli identity nor a purely Palestinian (or Arab) one.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-306-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. viii-xiv)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. Introduction: Expressions of Jewish Identity in the Modern Era in the Diaspora and in Israel
    (pp. 1-30)

    “To the Jews as a nation, nothing; to the Jews as individuals, everything … [T]hey must be citizens individually.” These words have been quoted many times since they were first articulated in December 1789 by Antoine Clermont-Tonnere, in an effort to convince his colleagues in the French National Assembly to support the provision of equal rights to Jews. This short, concise sentence illustrates the complex and problematic situation in which Jews found themselves during the modern era as well. It contains three fundamental concepts that are extremely relevant to the topic at hand: nation, individual, and citizen. The condition which...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Israeli Identities, 2008
    (pp. 31-47)

    In 1990, I carried out a comprehensive study among college students studying to be teachers in all sectors of Israel’s education system. The study served as the basis for a number of articles and a 1993 book titledJewish-Israeli Identity.Although in some ways the current book is a continuation of my earlier study, it also contains a few important differences.

    I was inspired to undertake the studies by a sense that young Israelis today are incapable of handling the complex problems of the reality currently presented by the modern Jewish world both in Israel and in the Diaspora. I...

  7. CHAPTER 2 My People and Me
    (pp. 48-96)

    The attitude of young Israelis toward their Jewish-Israeli identity is a subject that is frequently discussed, and when it is, one of the issues focused on is the relationship between “Israeliness” and “Jewishness.” While this is a meaningful distinction, I argue that it does not always facilitate a thorough understanding of the concepts in general and of the perspective of young Israelis in particular. Beyond their formal definitions as determined by law, the concepts of Israeli and Jew, and Israeliness and Jewishness, are complex and problematic in many ways.

    As we have seen, there is no consensus among Jews regarding...

  8. CHAPTER 3 The Holocaust and Me, the Nakba and Me
    (pp. 97-151)

    Salem Jubran, who for years has been active in efforts to develop methods for teaching the Holocaust to Jews and Arabs together, wrote the following inBishvil Hazikaron,the journal of the Education Department of Yad Vashem:

    The historical process of Israeli-Palestinian peace-making obligates us to eliminate historical stereotypes and distortions, and requires us to discover the person facing us and to understand the human aspirations of the other side. This framework also requires the development of a new approach, on the part of both Arabs and Jews, to the subject of the Holocaust.¹

    This chapter examines the attitudes of...

  9. CHAPTER 4 “The Other” and Me
    (pp. 152-180)

    In October 1944, just months after Paris was liberated from German occupation, French Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre wrote an important essay titled “Thoughts on the Jewish Question.” This text has since then emerged as one of the most significant pieces ever written on racism and the hatred of strangers in general and anti-Semitism in particular, and its power remains as strong today as it was 65 years ago. Its main focus was not “the Jewish question” but rather the French problem: How did it come to pass that France’s democratic (republican) majority surrendered to its anti-Semitic minority, and France collaborated with...

  10. CHAPTER 5 The State of Israel and Me
    (pp. 181-195)

    From the outset, Zionist ideology articulated a general approach to the problems facing the Jewish people and proposed general directions for solving them. As we have seen, Zionism was based on the concept of a Jewish people and their aspiration to become a sovereign nation. According to Zionism, sovereignty (or the political independence of the Jewish people, which was later explicitly defined as statehood) could only be realized in the Land of Israel.

    The establishment of the state of Israel was undoubtedly a victory for Zionism, and some regarded it as the actualization of the ideology. Others, however, regarded the...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Religion and Me
    (pp. 196-213)

    Israeli society is a rift ridden society, and one of its deepest rifts is the division between the secular and the religious.¹ In addition to being relevant to questions of Jewish-Israeli identity, this split has social, political, and legal implications as well. Some indicators suggest that the secular-religious divide has intensified since the 1970s and 1980s, at least in some ways. During these decades, one can identify a decreasing level of difference in positions within the religious camp itself, stemming from expressions of religious radicalization in some parts of the national-religious population (which was competing with the ultra-orthodox population).


  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 214-220)

    In this book, I have discussed a number of different aspects of Jewish-Israeli identity and Arab-Israeli identity, but certainly not all of them. The fact that it is based primarily on the results of two studies undertaken 18 years apart provides this book with a unique comparative dimension, which is even more enlightening as a result of the additional perspective provided by the participation of Arab students.

    Throughout the text, I attempted to present the data in a precise manner, in accordance with the standards of scientific research. However, the empirical data can also be explained and interpreted in ways...

  13. Epilogue
    (pp. 221-226)

    The tensions and struggles among sub-identities in Israeli society continue to go unresolved and will most likely remain unresolved for the foreseeable future. Unresolved also are the fundamental questions regarding Jewish-Israeli identiy. Our goal should not be one of forced uniformity or an attempt to do away with the other identities. Rather, we must aspire to recognize and accept the diversity, pluralism, and legitimacy of other expressions of Jewish-Israeli identity.

    Historically, it was actually the secular movements in Judaism and Zionism that attempted to negate the profound significance of religion in the Jewish experience, arguing that religion was something of...

  14. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 227-232)
  15. Index
    (pp. 233-240)