Sports media offer a unique discourse site because the nationalistic nature of reporting is often radicalized and in most cases ‘the national flag is waved with eternal enthusiasm’. Therefore, this study examined changes in the coverage of the Israeli national soccer team between 1949 and 2006 through an exploration of the identity of the journalistic narratives’ storytellers and protagonists. Our findings illuminate a complex picture: whereas during the Israel’s formative era sports reporters pursued a patriotic narrative that praised the players for their fighting spirit and contribution to national prestige, in recent decades the sports sections echo a new variety of local, professional, and gender voices that challenge the supposedly natural hegemony of national identity. These changes can be explained by factors rooted in the fields of journalism, sports, and the politics of identity.
The fierce debate over conversion to Judaism raging in Israel today has been fuelled by the Israeli Law of Return and the resulting immigration of large numbers of non-Jews to Israel from the Soviet Union. It has precedents, however, in earlier rabbinic literature. This paper traces the conversion debate from its Talmudic origins, through the nineteenth century halakhic polemic, to the present day. It demonstrates how the processes of secularization and nationalism that have affected the Jewish community have impacted on a changing balance in the roles of religion and nationalism in the definition of “who is a Jew” and “who is a convert?” It also shows how halakhic rulings are affected by social changes and how the ideologies of halakhic authorities impact their decisions.
The present paper extends recent studies of national character – suggesting that the Israeli case revolves around a set of deep cultural codes which constitute various empirical manifestations. Broadening on this re-emerging paradigm, the study provides a specific case study of a major trait of Israeli national character, namely existential anxiety and fear of annihilation. It does so while advancing the idea that cultural trauma sets a context for Israeli national character. The analysis shows that Israelis constantly reference persistent and endemic existential fears of annihilation. They do so while tying together four levels: the mythological predicament, historical evidence, contemporary threats and future risks.
Because religion has been a constant source of social divisions and political conflicts, the role of Judaism in Israel is very often studied through the prism of a rigid religious–secular cleavage.Without denying the contentious character of religion in the political and social arenas, I suggest in this study that a closer look at the usages of religion in Israeli politics offers a more nuanced picture of the role of Judaism in Israel. In order to uphold this thesis, I identify the main usages of Judaism in the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset) and scrutinise the extent to which these different mobilisations overlap or crosscut the secular–religious cleavage. This analysis leads to a typology of three usages of religion: religion as a source of authority, religion as a marker of identity and nation, and religion as a source of values. On this basis, I demonstrate that the role of religion in Israel and especially in the Israeli Parliament cannot be reduced to the divide between religious and secular groups. If in its first usage, the religious–secular cleavage indeed predominates, the use of religion as an identity marker does not necessarily lead to a conflict with secular members, while in its final form, religion is mobilised as a resource by members of both groups.
This article starts with a broad discussion related to theoretical and conceptual aspects comprising the concept Social Resilience at the national level, as well as its multiple definitions, dimensions and measurements. This is followed by a unique case study – a longitudinal study conducted in Israel, during the critical period (with over 1000 terrorism-related deaths) of the Second/ Al-Aqsa Intifada (2000-2004), showing some unexpected findings related to community resilience, at the national, mass-behavioral level. These findings comprise both public behavioral indices as well as attitudinal measures. To the best of our knowledge, it is the first time such measures are used to assess social resilience. A critical discussion follows, in which the author presents several theoretical and practical challenges to students of the Social Resilience paradigm.
About 330,000 of partial Jews and gentiles have moved to Israel after 1990 under the Law of Return. The article is based on interviews with middle-aged gentile spouses of Jewish immigrants, aiming to capture their perspective on integration and citizenship in the new homeland where they are ethnic minority. Slavic wives of Jewish men manifested greater malleability and adopted new lifestyles more readily than did Slavic husbands of Jewish women, particularly in relation to Israeli holidays and domestic customs. Most women considered formal conversion as a way to symbolically join the Jewish people, while no men pondered over this path to full Israeli citizenship. Women’s perceptions of the IDF and military service of their children were idealistic and patriotic, while men’s perceptions were more critical and pragmatic. We conclude that women have a higher stake at joining the mainstream due to their family commitments and matrilineal transmission of Jewishness to children. Men’s hegemony in the family and in the social hierarchy of citizenship attenuates their drive for cultural adaptation and enables rather critical stance toward Israeli society. Cultural politics of belonging, therefore, reflect the gendered norms of inclusion in the nation-state.
This article evaluates Israeli national identity and its core founding tenets of Zionism, democracy, and Judaism. For decades, demographic changes and associated cultural and ideological fluctuations have gradually pushed Israel into a national identity conflict, as multiple ethnic and sectarian identity groups have come to promote competing interpretations of the state’s purpose, political nature, and connection to territory. Continued demographic shifts, situated amid the sociopolitical dynamics of what this article will define as Israel’s “democratic tribalism,” will further test the compatibility of the constituent parts of Israeli national identity: the respective roles of Zionist ideology, democratic institutions, and the territory of the historic Jewish homeland.
Numerical commemoration is a distinctive form of group remembrance in which the collective number of those who make up the group serves as the mnemonic key to the past. The article examines the modern Israeli practice that focuses on the numerical commemoration of patriotic sacrifice and examines its social and ideological underpinnings. The study analyzes the distinct patterns and variations of Israeli numerical commemorations and the unique challenges that this mnemonic tradition faces given its abstract, impersonal and ahistorical character. The discussion addresses the transformations that numerical commemoration has undergone in recent decades, the cultural strategies employed in its support, and the complex interplay between national and local memories in maintaining a mnemonic tradition.
The Israeli television drama series, A Touch Away, Jerusalem Mix, and Srugim are symbolic sites for the negotiation of Jewish identity in Israel, a multicultural immigrant society. They open a window to the sociocultural religious communities within Israel, hence creating more visibility of these versions of Israeliness on the small screen, and deconstructing stereotypes thereof, allowing for more complex images of "religious Israeli Jews." The dramatic elaboration of intercultural encounters and conflicts in these TV dramas are contextualized by the Tzav Piyus project of reconciliation, which was initiated as a consequence of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination and the painful sociocultural fissures associated with it, as well as the larger enterprise of the AVI CHAI foundation—the promotion both in Israel and in North America of an awareness and discourse about Jewish identity as a complex and diversified experience. How do resources of the medium—serial drama and audiovisual expressions of television—serve to construct identity as an open-ended process yet a social product bound by communal constraints? This analysis seeks to illuminate how television dramas bring Israeli and American viewers alike to a touch away from marginalized cultural universes within Israel, as well as from the contradictions underlying the yearning to create a unified collective Israeli and Jewish identity in a democratic state.