Two Patterns of Modernization

An Analysis of the Ethnic Issue in Israel

in Israel Studies Review
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  • 1 Hebrew University shlomof@vanleer.org.il
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ABSTRACT

While acknowledging the decisive contribution of conflict sociology to our understanding of the (Jewish) ethnic issue in Israel, this article focuses on the actual political behavior of the Mizrahi population. Instead of developing radical social protest movements as might be expected, the Mizrahim have largely supported right-wing parties and policies. The article argues that in response to their exclusion from full membership in the Jewish-Israeli collective that the veteran Ashkenazim constructed, and from the material and symbolic goods that such membership entails, the Mizrahim have built a counter-collectivity. Using the cultural tool kit that they acquired in their experience of modernization in North Africa and the Middle East, the Mizrahim have created a (semi-)traditional ethno-religious Jewish collectivity from which they have excluded veteran left-wing Ashkenazim, accusing them of disloyalty and delegitimizing their Jewish identity.

Contributor Notes

SHLOMO FISCHER teaches in the School of Education at Hebrew University and in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University. He is a Senior Fellow in the Jewish People Policy Institute and a founder of and academic adviser to Yesodot—Center for Torah and Democracy.

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