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The Home of Academic Studies on Israel

PART I - Israeli History [+ / -]

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PART II - Israeli Society & Culture [+ / -]

Religion in IsraelAuthor: Ilan Fuchs

The relationship between Israel and religion is far from simple. The role of religion in Israel may be studied from a range of disciplines, including sociology, history and law. In this chapter, we will offer a broad survey of the topic and try to give a little bit of everything to offer a basic introduction to this topic. Since Judaism is the biggest religious group and Israel defines it self as a Jewish state, I will focus on Judaism. Beginning with an historical background, I will not mention numbers and percentages since the published reports are conflicting and the definitions used are inordinately vague.

Israeli CultureAuthor: Dalia Liran-Alper

Israeli culture has been evolving and growing for the past one hundred and twenty years. What is this culture? Is it even possible to speak of one culture? Does the culture that has been evolving in this small Middle Eastern country still belong to Jewish heritage? In response to orthodox rabbis who regard the new Israeli culture as inconsequential and vacuous, as "The Empty Wagon," a compilation of articles published following a scientific conference on one hundred and twenty years of Israeli culture that was held under the aegis of the Hebrew University was entitled "The Full Wagon." In this compilation a variety of culture and society researchers present Israeli society as a rich, living, and vibrant historical entity that reflects multiple contrasts, and a wealth of influences, that has experienced struggles, grown in the encounters between immigrants groups, and was shaped between ideology and spontaneity. Israeli literature, poetry, theatre, film, dance, Hebrew songs, and architecture, all illuminate the complexity and vitality of Israeli culture, either as a value system or a diverse variety of forms of expression.

Women in IsraelAuthor: Anat Maor

The status of women in Israel began to take shape in context of the ideology of the Zionist movement and the First Aliyah to Israel in 1882. These gave rise to two fascinating and contradictory trends: on one hand, research indicates that Zionism, as the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, was essentially a masculine liberation movement. On the other hand, the harsh conditions of the pioneers and the need to settle the land led to prima facie equality with regard to labor and security, and to the establishment of women’s organizations during the earliest stages of the Yishuv. One of the main streams in Zionism championed the return to national independence, to Jewish defense forces, to conquest through labor, conquest of the soil, physical agricultural work, and the native Israeli (Sabra) role model. These all required attributes of physical strength, physical labor, the military, heroism in war, independence, and control. Yet, the image of the state of the Jews in exile was of feminine attributes, interpreted as weakness: spiritual power, the capacity to give, non-physical labor, culture and literature, dependence (on the gentile nations), and domestication (as well as the obligation to be confined in ghettoes).

Multicultural Realities in IsraelAuthor: Guy Ben-Porat

In their seminal book, Trouble in Utopia (1989), Dan Horowitz and Moshe Lissak, two of Israel's leading sociologists, described Israel as an "overburdened polity." Growing tensions – ideological, national, ethnic, religious and economic – have made governance all but impossible. The cleavages of Israeli state and society have widened and deepened in the past two decades. Significant changes have transformed Israel demographically, economically and politically; raising significant debates and existential questions of identity, belonging and rights. In practice, even if not officially recognized, the fact that Israel has become a multicultural and multi-ethnic state is something with which the political system has been either unwilling or uninterested to contend.

Israel and its Arab MinorityAuthor: Yitzhak Reiter

Of all ethnic and national minorities in the world, the case of the Arab minority in Israel seems to be unique. It is the only minority that is part of its state's regional majority, namely part of the Arab-Muslim dominated Middle East. At the same time the Jewish majority in Israel is a tiny minority in the Middle East and the state is surrounded by Arab peoples who have mostly hostile relations with Jewish and Zionist Israel.

Art in IsraelAuthor: Alec Mishory

From its outset, Israeli art has been an offshoot of Western culture, in spite of the actual geographic site in which it is located - the Middle East. A common claim maintains that Israeli art makes a unique phenomenon, that it has particular characteristics. In fact, Israeli art is one of many examples of modern peripheral art forms that are influenced and aspire at establishing links with the hegemony of Western – European and American - models. Consequently, any attempt at assigning unique qualities to Israeli art must revolve around two significant phenomena: (1) The Zionist concept of the "New Jew," a unique persona, a modern version of the Diaspora Jew. New Jews are Jewish individuals that have become natives of an ancient Hebrew culture in the modern Land of Israel. (2) The biblical Second Commandment that allegedly restricts Jewish creation of visual images.

Israel's Economy (1986-2008)Authors: Rafi Melnick; Yosef Mealem

The history of Israel's economy, from the establishment of the State until the present time, can be divided into three periods: (1)1948 to 1973: The economy grew rapidly during this period at an annual rate of about 10%, which can mainly be explained by improvements in productivity. (2) 1973 to 1985: Known as the "Lost Decade" of Israel’s economic history, this period was characterized by significant growth in the government deficit, which was in large part due to the increase in defense expenditure. (3) 1985 until the present: This period, which began with the Stabilization Plan in July 1985 and continued until the present, will be the focus of this survey.

Media in IsraelAuthor: Michael Widlanski

Thomas Jefferson once said that if he had to choose between a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, he would pick the latter. Jefferson, in his own time, was a supporter of the press and wary of too much government control, but if Jefferson reappeared in Israel today, he might feel that the media in Israel have gotten too strong, while the government has gotten too weak.

The History of Hebrew Literature in IsraelAuthor: Michal Ben-Horin

The history of Hebrew literature in Israel is actually made up of many “histories,” which can be traced back to literature written outside of Israel. The history of Israel’s Hebrew literature is bound up with questions of identity and self-understanding. It reflects tensions between tradition and modern processes of secularization, between homeland and exile, hegemonic culture and the peripheries, as well as ethnicity and gender differences. On the other hand, the history of Hebrew literature in Israel can also be viewed as a one-directional movement and a transition from an exilic landless literature to a literature written on the land of pre-state Israel to an established corpus written in the State of Israel (known as “Israeli literature”). This view, however, is only part of the story or one of many possible stories (e.g. Miron, 1994; Schwartz, 2000; Hever, 2002; Shaked, 2006). This essay purports neither to tell the whole story, nor all the stories. It introduces three lines of development of this literature, while at the same time being aware of its partial and fragmented perspectives.

Patterns of Immigration and AbsorptionAuthors: Aviva Zeltzer-Zubida; Hani Zubida

Throughout the course of its modern history, Israel has been perceived as an immigration state. From the first days of the “new Yishuv,” at the end of the nineteenth century, the development of the Jewish society in Palestine has been dependent on immigration, first from Eastern European countries, later from Central Europe and, immediately after the establishment of the state in 1948, from the Middle East.

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PART III - Israeli Democracy [+ / -]

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PART IV - Israeli Wars & the Peace Process [+ / -]

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PART V - Israel's International Relations [+ / -]

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