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The Cultural Divide

Book Reading as a Signifier of Boundaries among Co-Cultures in Israeli Society

Hanna Adoni and Hillel Nossek

This article investigates the function of book reading in a society consisting of a multiplicity of ethno-cultural communities, asking whether book reading functions as a unifying factor within each ethno-cultural community or as a dividing factor and as a signifier of boundaries between them. It is based on multiyear survey data among representative samples of Israeli urban adults (1970, 1990, 2001-2002, 2007, and 2011), focus groups, and analysis of bestseller lists (2001, 2002). The article demonstrates that book reading functions as a signifier of boundaries within Israeli society, namely between ethno-cultural co-cultures of veteran Jewish Israelis, Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and Israeli Arabs. This supports Morley and Robins's claim that cultural consumption may be a divisive factor between the co-cultures within nation-states.

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Anat First and Eli Avraham

American values, symbols, landscapes, and lifestyles have been widely used in Israeli advertisements to market a vast array of consumer goods. An analysis of advertisements that appeared in Israeli newspapers during the 1990s reveals that American symbols were invoked to promote products produced in the United States, Israel, or even a third country. By examining the relationship between advertising and culture, along with the changes that have occurred in Israeli society during this period, this analysis focuses on two interlocking spheres: capitalist-economic (labor and production, consumption, and technology) and cultural (cultural heroes and symbols, language, and lifestyle). Using both qualitative and quantitative methods, it is the authors' goal to show how social values have changed over time, losing their Israeliness and taking on an American flavor. This article seeks to present the manifestation of the American image in Israeli advertisements and thereby fuel a discussion on the Americanization of Israeli society.

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Gadi Benezer

This article discusses the reactions of Israelis in the public space to 'mixed families' that include members of Ethiopian origin, written from the perspective of members of such families. The findings reveal that Israelis still react to the dark skin color of Ethiopians in mixed families and that, in most cases, 'black colors white', that is, behavior toward the mixed family is determined mainly by the presence of its black member. The three typical responses are as follows: (1) expressions of surprise at the presence of an Ethiopian in the family, evincing a stereotypical view of Ethiopian immigrants and their place in Israeli society; (2) invasions of privacy that are perceived by the family members as greatly exaggerated when compared with Israeli norms; and (3) declarations of appreciation for/admiration of the 'white' partner in the family for 'lifting up' the 'black' person through a (supposedly) altruistic act. The major conclusion is that Israeli society has yet to accept mixed families that include Jews of Ethiopian origin as a normative category.

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Men and Boys

Representations of Israeli Combat Soldiers in the Media

Zipi Israeli and Elisheva Rosman-Stollman

In this article we examine the representation of combat soldiers in Israel through their media image. Using two major national Israeli newspapers, we follow the presentation of the Israeli combat soldier over three decades. Our findings indicate that the combat soldier begins as a hegemonic masculine figure in the 1980s, shifts to a more vulnerable, frightened child in the 1990s, and attains a more complex framing in the 2000s. While this most recent representation returns to a hegemonic masculine one, it includes additional, 'softer' components. We find that the transformation in the image of the Israeli soldier reflects changes within Israeli society in general during the period covered and is also indicative of global changes in masculinity to a certain extent. We conclude by analyzing two possible explanations: the perception of the threat and changes in the perception of masculine identity.

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The Puzzle of The University on Air

A Story of Media and Academia in Israel, 1977–2013

Hagai Boas and Ayelet Baram-Tsabari

relating to public service broadcasting and adult education tends to be historical ( Hendy 2013 ; Jones 2012 ; Slotten 2006 ). It mainly refers to 1920s public radio and is far removed from the context of Israeli society. Thus, the term ‘science

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Yoram Peri, Tamar Hermann, Shlomo Fischer, Asher Cohen, Bernard Susser, Nissim Leon, and Yaacov Yadgar

Introduction Yoram Peri

More Jewish than Israeli (and Democratic)? Tamar Hermann

Yes, Israel Is Becoming More Religious Shlomo Fischer

Religious Pressure Will Increase in the Future Asher Cohen and Bernard Susser

Secular Jews: From Proactive Agents to Defensive Players Nissim Leon

The Need for an Epistemological Turn Yaacov Yadgar

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Outsmarting the Nation, Together

Subversive Virtual Fraternity in the Israeli Men's Magazine Blazer

Steven Fraiberg and Danny Kaplan

This article examines the reconstruction of a virtual Israeli male fraternity in Israel's only men's lifestyle magazine, Blazer. Modeled after the global 'new lad' magazine format, the Blazer text engages its readers by forging a homosocial joking relationship. Focusing on a satire dedicated to Israel's Independence Day, this study delineates a series of parodic discursive practices employed by the narrators to deconstruct and appropriate traditional Zionist myths on which Israel was founded. The Blazer text thus mobilizes a key cultural trope known as the anti-freier frame (to avoid being a 'sucker'), implemented as a set of manipulations to outsmart the system. The Blazer text rearticulates the relationship between self and society based on a local version of the 'yuppie' value system. We argue that while this frame appears to reject collectivist values, it serves as a critical lens for connecting yuppie masculinity with its Sabra predecessor, thereby consolidating a modified form of national solidarity.

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Nurith Gertz

Focusing on Israeli works of fiction and cinema that deal with the kibbutz, this article explores the various options for writing its history: as a linear chronology that displays the historical progression of events through the presentation of particular, isolated time segments within the kibbutz's evolvement, or as a sort of kaleidoscope that looks at periods, moments, and events that shaped the kibbutz's history. Some recent works, such as Ran Tal's film Children of the Sun and the books Between Friends by Amos Oz and Home by Assaf Inbari, examine periods, moments, and events within the kibbutz's development through their relation with the past, present, and future. Searching for fragments of the past within the present, they attempt to locate traces of the socialist truth so that, in their aftermath and from their remnants, a new truth—a new human relationship—can emerge.

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Reina Rutlinger-Reiner

This article demonstrates that theatrical representations of crises in family life, which have been produced in the Religious Zionist (RZ) community in the past few years, reflect a complicated, crisis-ridden reality that many of its members wish to address publicly. The image of Orthodox family life as sacred and harmonious has been carefully cultivated by rabbis and educators, yet the upsurge of plays portraying crises in Orthodox families proves otherwise. Theater, as a space where social dramas are presented, has become one of the facilitating tools of Western, secular society adopted by members of this community to allow for open discourse on previously silenced social problems. A recurring theme in the article is how Orthodox individuals seeking autonomy within the framework of family life engage in acts of individualized religious practices, often with only partial success.

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Yuval Benziman

Changes in Israeli politics, diplomacy, and the Israeli-Arab conflict, changes in Israeli cultural texts dealing with the conflict, and changes in Israeli writing of fiction—all led to significant changes in how the Israeli-Arab conflict is portrayed in Israeli fiction written in the 1980s. Comprising fictional texts about the conflict, the novels and films examined in this article actually deal with the inability to tell the story. The conflict is portrayed as too deep-rooted and complicated, to the extent that it is impossible to recount it and construct a dialogue or to find common grounds for comprehending it. The texts almost always end up in death, no Jewish-Arab personal relation prevails, and most of the interactions are through the military. According to the texts examined here, these two societies appear to need the conflict in order to overcome bitter conflicts within themselves; and Arab-Palestinian Israeli citizens feel that they cannot live in Israel.