CLASS NOTES WINTER HALF
- Election Results of Parties 2009 vs. 2013
- (About 70,000 votes currently gets you two seats)
- Ultra Orthodox (UO) vs. Arabs i.e. both exempt from military but UO participate in gov’t
- Appr. 60, 000 Ultra Orthodox youth in the age bracket of military service; not all are students in religious seminaries although
most register in them.
- UO: exemption from military service is not the only issue; also state subsidies.
- UO have their own independent education system which emphasizes religious studies but not necessarily skills
needed to be a part of the labour market ex. Math and English
- Contribute less taxes to state but get more subsidies + UO families are relatively large with many children and the
state offers allowance per child.
=> Yesh Atid Party: Israeli middle class, which does military service, contributes resources to state through taxation, is
essentially subsidizing the UO in a way that is neither fair nor sustainable
- Around 15 Knesset seats won by Yesh Atid were from the centre-left on that particular issue. About 4 came from the Israeli
right; why? ex. many candidates of YA are visibly dovish on the Palestinian front, call themselves “moderate right-wingers,”
and argue that the strong relationship b/w the Likud and the UO Party is harmful.
- Rising power of the NRP/National Union’s “Jewish Home.”
- 5 Knesset seats also came from Likud partly b/c the Jewish Home picked up on the trend i.e. they realized what was happening
socially, and aligned themselves as a national religious population with Yesh Atid suggesting that there is room to renegotiate
- A religious party who advocates service for religious populations.
- Close to the election, their campaign featured their program to increase the number of religious populations in the
- Support creating those 5 seats are people who are still right-wingers i.e. not enough “left” to go to Yesh Atid.
- Yahadut Hatora (Agudat Yisrael + Degel Hatora) = 7
- Shas = 11
- Difference is ethnic-communal. YH represents primarily UO Jews of Eastern European origin while Shas represents
populations of immigrants from Middle Eastern countries who are primarily UO but not all; a little larger voter base.
- National religious
- National Religious Party (Jewish Home) = 12
- Distinct: orthodox, highly committed to religious identity but they are also hard-lined Zionists; the party that follows Rabbi
Kook and continues the “whole land of Israel.”
- See themselves as a bridge b/w the secular liberal and the UO b/c they combine elements of both.
- Yesh Atid = 19
- Meretz = 6
“Separation of religion and state.”
- No separation of religion and state right now.
- The state has an official religion, Judaism, and this is a unique feature of democracies (the UK is similar though as it has the
Church of England). Israel also has a Ministry of Religious Affairs, and the state funds religious institutions; there are state
Rabbis as well (one of Middle Eastern and one of East European origin).
- Every city has a Rabbi, and they get a salary from the state.
- Marriage is conducted according to religious law.
- State institutions have to abide by religious codes. Gov’t institutions do not operate on the Sabbath, have to serve
kosher food (includes military).
- Not all Israelis are Jewish: about 20% population are Muslim Arabs, Christians. They do not have to abide by Jewish law but
the same principles apply through their own religious institutions ex. a Rabbinical Court vs. an Islamic Court vs. a Christian
Court. Personal status issues have to be resolved according to the religious Law.
- Part of the discussion on the R/S divide is the extent to which religious institutions should be funded by the state, their authority
esp. for non-Orthodox institutions ex. what if you do not want to be married using a religious institution?
Historical Context - Haredi: another term for the UO
- The Haredi community was present in Palestine (PA) before Zionist immigration. Jewish presence in PA before the late 1800’s
was primarily UO. Most of them lived in the Old City; some in other religiously significant towns in northern-Israel.
- Recall: At first, they treated the migrants with suspicion. For them, Jews had to study religion, and wait passively for messianic
salvation. Jewish exile was punishment for their heresy. The Zionists were sinners as they were doing the opposite.
- When the Yishuv was established, the Haredi did not participate. The British Authority recognized them as a separate
community as well but there was some level of cooperation b/w the two unlike Jewish/Arab relations who were totally
- The source of interaction came from the Yishuv leadership b/c as a movement, they wanted to be as representative of
the Jewish population as possible.
- “Haredi:” means caring of how other Jews are seen in the eyes of God. If other Jews are sinning, there is some responsibility to
try, and change them.
- Their interest was in assisting fellow Jews; not necessarily Zionism.
- When Israel claimed independence in 1948, David Ben Gurion successfully negotiated the inclusion of the Haredi into the state
when they could have continued separating themselves. A representative of the Haredi community also signed the Declaration
- Conditions attached: this is what we are left with today. Making them at the time, was a part of the consociational
arrangements. It was a tool for nation-building, power sharing; referred to everyone but here, we see its results in
- Some basic principles of, according to Asher Cohen and Bernard Susser (readings) :
- Refrain from decisive decisions or simple majorities in conflict with issues (trying to reach a consensus)
- Recognize the tolerance limits of the other side; veto power.
- Large autonomy to the various social groups in clearly defined areas.
- PR as a voting system, and a way of allocating resources.
- Forming broad-based coalitions that include representatives of opposing camps.
- Consociationalism is also seen in ex. Northern Ireland for the Catholic/Protestant divide; they also have veto powers.
- In Israel, these patterns have never been constitutionally entrenched; they are behavioural, and cultural. Recall: there is no
constitution B/C of consociationalism: can’t make decisive decisions on what shared values are ex.
- If there had been a constitution, would the Haredi have integrated? Hard to say but they live in states like the US that have a
constitution and respect it so could they not do the same in Israel? Well, the US is a civic state while Israel is a Jewish state.
- The Zionists define Judaism in a much different way than the Haredi so it would have been very difficult to find a
common ground for both.
- Recall: Zionists were very secular esp. post WWII: why would God have let the Holocaust happen? (very strong
argument against religion at the time)
- When religion is separated from state institutions, it exists either in the private sphere, or voluntary public sphere (civil society)
but when it is not separate, it means that the state and its institutions are regulators of religion.
- Consociationalism’s defence for absolving the Haredi community from military service:
- They are not Zionists. Isn’t it enough that they have accepted to be a part of state? Must we make them further into
- It is culturally valuable to have UO studying in the seminaries called “yeshivas.” UO say this is the true contribution
to Judaism; respect their identity.
- It is way too hard to be observant as a Haredi in the military.
- Consociationalism gave them not only exemption from military, but also their own education system. The latter is is true in
Northern Ireland too.
- Marriage must be done by a Rabbi or Kazi.
- Courts are subordinate to supreme court by still have their own authority and law (deals with issues of personal status ex.
divorce, alimony, inheritance).
- People can choose to go to a civilian court for divorce, and appeal to them.
- Non-Jewish population end up being treated as religious communities ex. Arab populations as mainly: Muslims, Christians, or
Jews. Defined by the state according to the religion.
- Accommodation patterns have been changed overtime; ex. in issues like entertainment on sabbath, the secular side wins.
- In other spheres, like drafting Yeshiva students to military, the Haredi win (About 25,000 a year). When the agreement was
made, the number was in 100’s.
- Because of social, political, demographic changes, each side is making demands that will benefit their community ex. child
benefits. Haredi values large families; it has gained by increasing subsidies for large families but b/c their education relies
heavily on state subsidies, there is a growing economic strain on the secular-middle class (no doubt). Taxation is very high.
Salaries are low. Cost of living is becoming +straining for the majority.
2 - The secular population is hence rising against the status-quo and the consociational arrangement.
- Other issues include monopoly that Haredi community has over personal status b/c it is not just a S/R divide, but other streams
of Judaism ex. Conservative, and Reform, are not recognized as the religious makeup of the state so ceremonies by those
methods, and not UO, are not recognized by the state as formal/legal.
- Most Jews in CA/USA are reform/conservative Jews. Serious problem.
- Why hasn’t this been resolved? There are future implications: a severe divide of the Jewish population ex. Jewish
children born outside UO marriage practices, are not eligible for marriage in the UO community.
- Right wing: Likud Beytenu (31); Jewish Home (12)
- UO: Shas (11); Yahadut Hatora (7)
- Left-of-centre: Labor (15); Hatnua (6); Meretz (6)
- Parties strongly supporting redefining religious-secular divide: YA (19); Jewish Home (12); Kadima (2); Meretz (6); Hatnua
- Parties strongly opposing redefining religious-secular divide: Shas (11); Yahadut Hatora (7)
- Plausible coalition gov’t: Likud Beytenu + Yesh Atid + Jewish home + Kadima
- Potential partners: Hatnua
Politics of Religion
Watched a video; most of the content is covered below through the lecture.
- Ultra Orthodox (Haredi)
- Political Parties: Shas (11) + Yahdut Hatora (formally Agudat Yisrael) (7)
- National Religious Orthodox
- Political Parties: Jewish Home (NRP + smaller parties) (12)
=> Currently in the Knesset: 30 MKs (25%) from religious parties
- Also, a reflection of their numbers in the population i.e. 10% Ultra Orthodox, about 15% Orthodox
- In the past, they would win somewhere between 6-9 seats but by targeting a specific constituency which is not hard-line
religious, i.e. they can vote for Likud as well, and they managed to attract 60,000-100,000 votes.
- Voter turnout in religious communities is +90% especially for those voting for Yahdut Hatora.
- There are also Rabbis from ex. Reformist Judaism but they are marginalized, and had they not been the most popular Jewish
movement in North America (since most Jews in North America are Reformists). However, ignoring them from the council by
Orthodox Jews creates rifts in Jews b/c then Israel is not a place for “all” Jews; but some Jews => identity question in politics.
Among religious parties:
- Issues of agreement: preserving the status of orthodox religion in state
- I.e. the state should still have an official religion which should be defined by the Orthodox definition so reform, or ...
Judaism are not recognized.
- Recall: this extends to personal status issues, dietary rules etc. etc.
- Issues of disagreement: zionism; participation in public life, including military, labor force etc; which orthodox practices
should play a leading role in state religion
- National Religious-hard-line Zionist; Ultra-Orthodox rejects it (at least in theory).
- Also, disagreement in the public life: if one is a Zionist, then you see yourself as an integral part of the Israeli
community and society which is true for the National Religious perception. They think that they should participate in
the state, participate in military, pay taxes, contribute to the civic life as well as religious etc. etc. On the other hand,
the Ultra-Orthodox stick to the status quo agreement (recall: consociationalism) which entails a certain degree of
segregation/isolation from the secular public.
- Which rabbis should determine practices of Judaism? ex. who do you go to, or have to go to, in order to get a legit.
kosher stamp on your food/restaurant? The Ultra-Orthodox have had a monopoly on this.
- Note: A lot of ^this, is about politics instead of Judaism ex. even if you had Zionist Rabbis instead of Shas, they
would still not let a “Cohen” marry a divorcee but this is not always the case ex. status of women in public life is
3 different among the two- the Jewish Home has female Knesset members but that probably won’t happen for Shas or
- Issues where gaps are narrowing: role of settlements and territories; stricter interpretation of religion and religious practices
- A matter of Jewish sovereignty over biblical territory. The religious zionists say Jews need to reconnect with the
homeland, settle it to enhance messianic redemption; goes back to their history. Traditionally, the Ultra-Orthodox
rejected this; recall: wait passively for redemption but their views on this have shifted in practice so they end up
voting in Knesset against concessions of land.
- These gaps are growing again and we can notice that now because of Yesh Atid.
- Secular-Ultra Orthodox divide
- Participation of ultra orthodox in public life (incl. military service)
- Religious observance in public space (ex. should businesses be allowed to operate on the Sabbath? Secularists have
made gains here b/c although the law says that you cannot have a store open on Sabbath, no one enforces it b/c that
person enforcing the law would have to work on the Sabbath)
- Allocation of funding to to religious educational institutions, incl. school and Yeshiva. The gov’t gives funds based
on the number of students in the institution so there is an incentive to increase the # of Yeshiva students + by
registering for “studying,” you get out of military if you are Ultra-Orthodox! Plus, recall: not learning core subjects
- Liberal-conservative issues (ex. ender, same sex relations etc.)
- Secular-Religious Zionist divide
- Overlap Left/Right divide on dovish-hawkish dimension
- Tension between civic and religious authority in state.
- Over a month since elections, and still no coalition but that is not surprising b/c bargaining isn’t easy, political parties want to
get as much as they can during negotiations. Today, wrap up religion + politics and then move on to communal divide.
- Prior to reading week, we talked about religious/secular divide and identified two main religious constituencies: UO (Haredi
community represented by 11-7 Knesset seat parties) and the National Religious (represented by Jewish home with 12 seats).
- Main distinction b/w the two is that one of them is Zionist and sees itself as a part of a Zionist movement, and the
state = NR camp. The UO is historically suspicious of Zionism but integrated relatively well with various aspects of
state including participation in electoral politics and becoming a part of the gov’t.
- Also, issues in which the two camps agree: preserving the status of the Orthodox interpretation of state b/c formally, religion
and state are intertwined in Israel and it regulates religious aspects. Religion is not only part of the private sphere as the state
has a ministry of religious affairs with rabbis and religious courts to perform functions in public life.
- Issues of disagreement were Zionism but also extent of participation in public life for the religious community. To what extent
do they get a separate and distinct sphere in public life in order to maintain their cultural ways and beliefs?
- Zionist Orthodox and NR camp believe in participation in public life incl. military and labour force but UO don’t b/c
they say to maintain a truly religious life, as they always have, they need to refrain from intense interaction with the
non-religious community. Military service is incompatible with preserving religious lifestyles like maintaing the
proper diet, observing Sabbath, prayer rituals etc. Participating fully in labour force would mean less time studying in
- Also, Squabbles over which Orthodox practices should play a role in religion ex. Haredi or Zionist. This is less about the actual
practices and more about whose Rabbi’s should fulfill these roles. Now, a very prominent issue in public debate b/c the Jewish
Home has made it one following their electoral success. They say their Zionist Rabbis should be the chief rabbis of state.
- Talked about issues where gaps are narrowing- roles of settlement and territories. Although the UO community is formally
non-Zionist, it takes a hard-line on diplomatic issues. A contradiction: why does someone who doesn’t think there should be a
Jewish state as such would support prolonging Jewish sovereignty in the territories that Israel has captured from the 1967 War?
The answer can be in Shelef’s book.
- He said mundane politics influence ideologies and change them overtime.
- Israeli cleavages largely overlap. L/R divide = Secular/Religious divide = Liberal/Conservative divide. So, UO
political forces have always found it easier to coalesce with the conservative right-wing forces in Israel b/c they have
a closer view to them on religion and state. In turn, they become more sympathetic to settlements. Gaps are
narrowing b/w UO and religious nationals
- A movement in the other direction in regards to religious practices where the NR camp and its Rabbis have become
stricter- more like the Haredi. The role of women in public space.
4 - The secular-UO (SUO) divide is somewhat different from the secular-religious-Zionist (SRZ) divide. We talked about some of
the issues in the former but the latter, has a bit of a difference in that, the religious Zionist tend to take a hawkish stand in
regards to the L/R dimension (the overlap). The more a person is secular, the more likely they are to hold dovish positions in
regards to the territories and a liberal vision with regards to public life and vision on Jewish state is based on a modernist
interpretation of nationalism.
- Recall: Theories of nationalism- modernist interpretation and primordialist.
- The religious Zionist tend to be far more primordial and it gets manifested in a variety of ways. One of the most
important is identifying the biblical homeland in the territories.
- ^More important in the SRZ divide than the SUO divide.
- Since religious Zionists take this primordial view of the nation, they see it as less temporary than the modern state i.e. states are
a modern phenomenon from changes in the 17th century. An older map, even a 19th century map is totally different- far fewer
states, lots of empires, monarchies, holy Roman empire (Church) etc. The state concept is about 300 years old; most were est.
in the 20th century even for Israel and the rest of the ME, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe. 193 states today. 200 years ago, less
- States are a contemporary way of est. sovereignty.
- Nations, according to primordialism, have much deeper roots. Nations as populations and a people instead of states
which are a set of institutions. The people had roots in the territory so the connection to the homeland is more
important than the modern institutions. So they say, states are temporary; a nation is not.
- This is important b/c what happens if these two principles are in tension with each other? When the state decides it is
diplomatically better for Israel to withdraw but they are seen as an essential part of the homeland for the primordials? Who
wins? What if the state decides to get rid of a settlement? Primordialists, and/or religious, think that if the state is temporary, it
does not have legitimacy to decide on these questions. Maybe Rabbis should decide. It’s a matter of identity, religious belief,
defining who one is as a nation and within religious Zionism, there is debate on this question b/c occasionally it comes up.
- Should one refuse to obey order given by the military that seems to be in contradiction to the primordialist-religious
- Such questions preoccupy the national religious camp so, the L/R divide is far more accentuated when it comes to the
secular/religious dimension than just secular/secular debates.
- Q: Aren’t the people running the state from the nation though?
- The main distinction b/w nation and state is through institutions. Whether nations are new or not is unclear. We discussed how
nations were formed through the modernist vs. primordialist lens. For primordialists who think the nation was there from
thousands of years before, the long-term vision becomes more important than the temporary elected officials. Part of the reason
why national religious want to be active in politics.
- Now, we have the various dimensions of the religious-secular divide in the 2013 elections. The UO, who strongly oppose
redefining religious-secular relations, currently have 18 Knesset seats. NR party- the Jewish Home- has 12 seats and it is
willing to redefine some aspects, but not all.
- They do want to see the UO community more engaged in the public sphere through military service- provide
themselves as proof that it is possible to integrate orthodox life with military life- but also in the labour force,
education- core subjects that are needed ex. math/english- and their argument is both principled and practical.
Because of the growing population of the UO, the current situation with subsidies etc. is unsustainable. The Israeli
middle-class is shrinking and they pay taxes and carry the burden of military service.
- The real issue here is not so much military service even though that is what is being hyped, but it is monetary
subsidies b/c UO serving in the military would not = seculars serving less i.e. the burden is the same or even
increased with more people so more funding. The state provides services to the UO and there is only so much money
and when part of the population works and the other does not but it is bigger and gets funding anyway, the former
gets fed up as this is not a simple issue of unemployment; it is a cultural choice.
(This election sent shockwaves through the Likud b/c it is clear that their voters are not happy).
- The secular-liberal political parties have a very strong opinion about redefining religious-secular divide along the lines
mentioned above, and to some extent, on the L/R divide. The most prominent is Meretz as it has a very strong stance on both
of these issues.
- Yesh-Atid, which came in 2nd, emphasizes the civic religion divide- on integration- and military service and
monetary service instead. However, in the long-term, the L/R divide will feature prominently- most of the people on
the list are very much on the left and dovish.
- For the time being, they decided that they will team up with the Jewish Home which is part of the reason why there is
still no coalition. Both are demanding right now that religious-secular/state relations will redefined so that UO are
enlisting in military and that the UO population will be encouraged to join the labour force and their curriculum will
change. Each is saying that they will only enter gov’t with the other. It’s quite an usual partner-ship and it is clear that
when the L/R divide comes up and the PA issue resurfaces which it will, they will not get along, but during
negotiations, it is working so far although the Likud has been trying to play them against each other.
5 - There are also secular political parties that are somewhat committed to redefining the religious-secular divide but it is not the
main issue and they would sit in a coalition with or without UO but they won’t be too worried if this issue is not addressed.
- Labour or Likud are not in this b/c they being traditionally the largest, have always coalesced with the UO b/c they were so
reliable. The other political parties, except Yesh-Atid, could have bolted coalition govt’s in the past b/c they stand for more
issues than just their particularistic constituency interests.
- For instance, if a party is doing the opposite of ^, as a PM, you know what you need to do to make them happy but if
they are doing^ like Kadima who are trying to appeal to more voters, then it becomes more difficult. Even with the
Jewish Home- NR party, it isn’t always simple for the Likud.
- There are international, domestic pressures as well for the PM ex. the outgoing Israeli gov’t was one of the most
hawkish that Israel ever had led by Netanyahu from Likud, UO parties and yet, the PM faced pressure from Obama to
freeze the construction of settlements for 10 months. He agreed but that lost him a lot of political capital amongst his
partners and then, when he asked him to renew freezing them, at first he agreed but his partners threatened and said
no so he had to deny the request of Obama so the Jewish Home is not an ideal partner as much as the UO b/c
internationals don’t really care about them. They are not related to the settlements; don’t care if they subsidize the
UO but settlements, YES.
- What will be the outcome of all this? Plausible coalitions. Hatnua will be in it for sure with Likud- it has 6 Seats and it is not
concerned with intra-Jewish divides. Main platform is renewal of negotiations with PA’s, moving forward with the peace
process and practically, freezing settlement construction. It is on the left side. The leader is trusted with negotiations with the
PA’s according to the coalition agreement. Fascinating development b/c it sends multiple signals in various directions.
- 1st option: to Jewish Home- don’t drag your feet in coalition agreements with us. We are supposed to be the natural
allies but if you will do this on the religious-secular divide and side with Yesh-Atid against the UO, then we will
move left on the L/R divide. A mechanism to pressurize Jewish Home.
- 2nd option: To some extent, it facilities coalescing with UO parties which is the second option- a coalition which will
not be about the religious-secular divide but leave Yesh-Atid out in the opposition. Other possibilities. Probably most
stable but highly unpopular b/c most of the electorate wants a redefinition of religious-secular.
- Note: Actual outcome was Likud + Yesh Atid + Jewish Home (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/14/israel-pm-
- The first option leaves out Orthodox parties which would be very popular initially and would put him in the centre of political
spectrum instead of right but ultimately, it will need to decide on the L/R of the issue. If you build settlements, you alienate
Yesh Atid but if you do not, you alienate the Jewish Home; there is no middle ground. This is why we have said that centrist
parties are very popular in the beginning, love compromises!, but they can’t deliver b/c there is no center so they disappear.
- Ashkenazi Jews are of European origin and Mizrahi Jews are those that arrived to Israel from Arab and Baltic countries after
independence of Israel.
- Recall: Immigration waves in the pre-state period, we mentioned that most migrants came from Europe. The Zionists came
mainly from Russia and Poland and then through the 1930’s, Jewish migrants were escaping Nazism from Europe, and by
1948, there were about 600,000 Jews at this time; most were Ashkenazi.
- Ashkenazi saw themselves as state builders. They were the earlier arrivals who had est. the institutional framework of the state,
economy, cultural institutions, social organizations.
- Immigration after the 1948 War was much different sociologically and culturally. The migrants were Jewish refugees and
escaping Arab countries. Close to 600,000 Jews left Morocco, Iraq, Yemen, Iran and other countries in ME and Africa. These
new migrants had no knowledge of Hebrew, new Jewish/Hebrew culture that was emerging, spoke Arabic and in some
instances French if they came from North Africa.
- Their cultural practices resembled Arabs rather than Europeans which was reflected in dress, music, food, codes of
social interaction and gestures, body language etc.
- Unlike the secular immigrants of Europe, the Mizrahis practiced religion and considered it to be a part of their tradition but
*their religious practices were different from the ones of the UO/Haredi community or the European communities as theirs
were far more influenced by Arab culture.
- Their unfamiliarity with Hebrew and local codes of conduct made them seem socially inferior to many of the more est.
community. They were expected to culturally assimilate; not integrate but assimilate.
- Recall: this brings us back to the Zionist vision of creating a new Hebrew. Even the Ashkenazi Jews were expected to
be something new in the land of Israel: empowered, adopts Hebrew, adapt to the new local circumstances but by the
time the Mizrahis arrived, most of the Ashkenazi Jews had already adapted.
- Due to the attempt of the Zionists to expand Jewish control in uninhabited areas in Israel, many of these immigrants were
settled in remote and outlying areas of the countries. These are known as development towns. If they were lucky, they were
settled in peripheral neighborhoods of existing towns ex. Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.
6 - As a new state with a very small population that has now doubled in nearly three years, there is not enough housing, jobs,
economy is too small- it’s an enormous task. Initially, they were put in transition camps. They suffered from everything
though- lack of heating, poor sanitary conditions, lack of cooling in summer, improper plumbing etc.
- Some had to stay in them for a long time. When they eventually got out of them, they were settled in geographically
remote areas- the development towns which meant less employment opportunities, poor standard of education b/c
most of the existing teachers don’t want to go live there so they found themselves isolated, socially as well, and in
low-skill jobs or improper employment. They very quickly turned into the lowest class of Israel.
- They relied on social services that were separate from Ashkenazi. They only interacted with them when they had to interact
with the state or bureaucracy.
- Because of the en masse arrival, the state was unable to ensure comprehensive absorption in the labour market etc. so, they also
relied on the social services MORE.
- We have evidence on the condescending attitudes towards the Mizrahis, but we don’t have evidence that this was b/c of their
ME or North African heritage b/c many others who came from other parts of the world were also treated like this. It seems like
the consequence of a very young state trying to deal with something without the resources.
- The kibbutzim were similar in that they also had isolated locations b/c ideologically, that is where the state wanted its
- Politically, the first generation of immigrants behaved like most first-generation immigrants in places around the world usually
do i.e. identify the consensus and vote there. Mizrahis voted for the labour party but given their treatment, why did they? Well,
this is a common pattern in many countries b/c immigrants try to find the common pattern of behaviour or vote for the party
that let them in ex. In Canada, most immigrants voted liberal b/c they migrated when the liberals were in power and this is what
Canadians do but now it is different.
- However, this did not facilitate their integration.
- The social/geographical isolation = practical segregation as discussed before with jobs etc. Mizrahi Jews found it
really hard to be a part of society and join the established society.
- The second generation of Mizrahi Jews were far more defiant than their parents. They turned against the ruling party that they
felt was responsible for their lack of opportunities. The younger generation rose up against the social order in which priority
was given to those of the ruling elites- the Histadrut.
- In the early 1970‘s a protest movement calling itself the Black Panthers, named after the US, took to the streets to protest the
Mizrahi situation. This was the first sign of the eroding status of the ruling Labour.
- Later in the 1970‘s, the Black Panthers joined the communists to form the “Democratic Front for Peace and Equality”
- They didn’t get much support electorally but their impact was to erode the consensus around Labour during the early
1970’s to question the practices of Labour. What did the Mizrahi Jews do? They were far more strategic politically.
They voted for the main opposition party- the Likud.
- The leaders of the Likud appealed to the communal sentiments of the Mizrahi Jews. They weren’t passive receivers
of support but they also identified what was happening and they were actively seeking support of the Mizrahis. It was
largely due to the vote of the Mizrahis that Likud managed to win the elections for the first time since 1977.
- A shift from first to second generation Mizrahis.
- This alliance was more than just instrumental for the two sides- most Mizrahi Jews remained loyal to Likud for a
very long time and kept it in power until well into the 1990’s. Mizrahi Jews are still more likely to vote for Likud
than Labour but things became more complicated in the 1990’s. We will explore this complexity in the next class.
Note: UO means Ultra Orthodox.
- Ashkenazi- first arrivals and Yishuv builders
- Mizrahi- arrived mainly after state formation
- Divide aspects: cultural, linguistic, customs, geographical (Ma’abarot, development towns, periphery), occupation and social
- Political aspects:
- First generation voted labour
- Second generation: Black Panthers (communists) + Likud
- Formation of Shas in 1984 (Rabbi Ovadia Yosef)
- Recall: In the pre-state period, it was the kibbutz which were provided with subsidies to go live in outlying areas.
7 - The Mizrahi were from North African and Middle Eastern origins and they were refugees i.e. they had left their properties
behind so they relied heavily on state subsidies and welfare. It was easier for the gov’t to move them to areas that it wanted
settled- the “development towns”
- Coercion was not used exactly but in practice, there were 600,000 arrivals with very little property or economic
sources. If they wanted subsidized housing, they had to go to the areas where the state provided it and this was in the
- This resulted in not only geographical segregation, but practical social segregation. There was a lack of access to
employment opportunities, relied heavily on welfare, the educational opportunities were also scarce b/c teachers did
not want to live in these areas which were desert.
- The first generation of immigrants tried to identify the dominant trends of the rest of society and adopt those
behaviors- it’s a way of trying to integrate.
- Since the Labour Party was dominant at the time, many of these 1st. generation immigrants, voted for Labour
irrespective of everything else.
- However, the second generation was no longer willing to accept its subordinate position and it rose up against the political
elites that it felt kept it disadvantaged
- In the 1970’s, a generation later, voting patterns changed. This trend had two dimensions: Parliamentary and Non-
- Started in the NP. In the early 1970’s, a protest movement which called itself the “Black Panthers,” similar in name
to one in the USA, engaged in protests in various parts of the country.
- The leaders of the BP eventually joined the communist party.
- Although their street protests seemed to get a lot of support from the community, politically, they did not manage to
- The political party that gained the most from the discontent of this population was the Likud.
- Aside from the fact that the leader of the Likud appealed to the sentiments of Mizrahi Jews explicitly by pointing out
in election campaigns and so on that Labour was responsible for their woes, there was very rational voter behaviour
in this pattern of voting. The Likud was the main rival to the Labour Party. So, if they wanted to topple, not just vote
against, the rulers, it was rational to vote for its rival who had the best chance of bringing it down.
- Largely based on votes of the Mizrahi Jews, Likud managed to win the elections for the first time in 1977 but this alliance was
bigger. Most of them continued to be loyal to the Likud for at least two decades until the late 1990’s.
- Likud policies did not fundamentally change the situation i.e. their situation changed but not b/c the gov’t gave ex.
more funding; it provides less welfare than Labour; engages in privatization. So, why?
- First explanation of loyalty: when Mizrahi immigrants settled in Israel, their social order which revolved around a
community of families, eroded. The family unit lost its authoritative significance and as such, the new immigrants
found nationalism as an attractive form of bonding in their new environment. It served as a new identity reference.
They also turned to religion. The Likud being the more nationalist party, played on their sentiments but also provided
something new- national cohesion and identity of Jewish values- a sense of belonging.
- Second explanation: the migrants became more nationalist than Ashkenazi Jews as an accident b/c the main rival just
happened to be a nationalist party. Once they decided to align with that party, they adopted its ideological stance. By
that logic, if Likud happened to be the hegemonic party when it arrived, they would have joined Labour and would
have become dovish in regards to the IS/PA conflict.
- Alan Dowty adds another layer. He claims that having lied as subordinates in Arab societies, the Mizrahi found no
moral difficulty in changing roles and having Arabs in a subordinate position in a Jewish state. A turning of
positions; not just an accident. They had lived as second-class citizens and now it was their turn to be on top.
- Most of these explanations are speculati