Melting pot and plurality of cultures in early Israel

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Israeli historiography tends to distinguish between two eras: the “young” Israel, a mobilized country that aspires to social and cultural cohesion, and the “adult” or “adolescent” Israel that admits that the melting pot has failed and accepts cultural fragmentation and tribalism. In fact, thorough observation of the so-called melting-pot era shows that even at that time of “mobilization” and “collectivism,” Jewish collectivities in Israel remained committed to their prior and distinct “original identities” despite the establishment’s systematic efforts to create an alternative national common denominator. Evidence also shows that the Arab citizens, who were not included in the melting-pot project from the outset, also insisted on voicing their claims and organized around particular local, cultural and social identities, thus challenging the government’s attempt to unify them under a sectorial umbrella in disregard of their plurality of cultures and identities. In this chapter, I trace the formation of an Israeli identity during the country’s first decades as the product of a dialectic relationship between two forces – the call to Jewish unity and the marginalization and sectorialization of Arab citizens, on the one hand, and the adamant adherence to group distinctness among Jewish immigrants and Arab local communities, on the other hand.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook on Contemporary Israel
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781000591149
StatePublished - 29 Jul 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)

RAMBI Publications

  • rambi
  • Israel -- Social conditions -- 1948-1967
  • Jewish-Arab relations -- Israel -- History -- 20th century
  • Marginality, Social -- Israel
  • Nation-building -- Israel
  • National characteristics, Israeli
  • Palestinian Arabs -- Israel -- History -- 20th century
  • Social integration -- Israel


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