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Chapter 4

ANT 325L Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Revisionist Zionism, Jewish Diaspora, Haredi Judaism


Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANT 325L
Professor
Weinreb Amelia
Chapter
4

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Chapter 4 — Society
Introduction
While Israel is incredibly diverse, it’s community is also incredibly strong.
Jewish population sets the predominant tone in the country.
You can’t define the population by its differences because there is a broad range of
subgroups in-between the secular-religious spectrum.
Other examples include:
Ashkenazim and Sephardim
Haredim and Datim
Mitnagdim and Hasidim within Haredim
Mizrahi (Jews of Middle Eastern origin) and Ashkenazim (Jews of
European origin)
Myth = that Israel is organized on the basis of religion. False because identity is not
based on a theological viewpoint or theoretic worldview.
Truth = Israel is a state based on nationalism— it’s not a theocracy.
Note: Many officially sanctioned practices (like holidays) originate in religious
structures and traditions
Community and Identity
Includes tensions between rebellion and tradition — maybe a little more polarized and
intense than here in the U.S.
Rebellion against the real and perceived Jewish Diaspora society is a dominant feature of
society
Old millennia of Diaspora = perceived as conformist and subservient, slow
lifestyle
New millennia (today) = perceived as confident, empowered and in control
Heavily influenced by host societies and have discontinuities with their
predecessors.
Still have a lot in common with old millennia because of traditions.
Tensions between the two groups is mediated by Jewish tradition and historic
experiences
Israelis are notoriously obstinate, egalitarian and insistent on their personal rights
Community is very close-knit
Languages spoken: Hebrew, English (not stigmatized by respected)
Close knit community means that informal connections are very important to get things
done.
Living in a country during war has also brought Israelis together
Israeli identity is based on a conscious rejection of assimilation and an acceptance of the
risk of living in a country that is at war, unpopular internationally and situated among
hostile neighbors.

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Clothing: except for the Haredim, Israelis wear casual clothing.
Unpredictability, ingenuity and thinking outside the box are highly valued.
The younger generation is more secular and has a military background. They challenged
the governing establishment.
Men ahem Begin’s rise to power is representative of this group
Israelis have a strong sense of humor— very literal and linear.
Israeli military = informal, anti-hierarchical, continually self-critical, close contact with
civilian society
There is no word in hebrew for “patriotism”
Don’t have global ambitions, just wants to rule the historic Land of Israel
Citizens have a surprising positive view of their country and personal circumstances.
Israeli Jews are more satisfied but less optimistic than Israeli Arabs. The Haredim are
most satisfied.
Zionism
Zionism is the belief that Jews are a people and action that need a country of their own in
order to survive and flourish.
How it’s different from other kinds of nationalism
Zionism began when there was no Jewish-populated homeland in existence.
At formation, is was only one of several competing visions for the Jewish future.
Jewish communities in the West enjoyed more security after the war which
encouraged them to consider supporting the establish of the Sate of Israel
Expulsion from Arab countries also inspired support
Zionism was a broad umbrella movement that included a wise variety of views,
ranging from near communist to piously religious.
Aspects of Zionsim contributed to shape of culture
Socialists helped establish labor unions, marketing cooperatives, farms and
national institutions.
Socialism in Zionist movement arose because
In Eastern Europe most Jews were poor and faced oppression— so their politics
were skewed to the left
The socialists had the best organized movement
Jews saw that the institutions created by the socialist Zionists would continue to
play central roles in Israeli society long after the state was established.
Zionism promoted stability and unity and presented too severe a break from with
tradition. It avoided conflict.
The Datim supported Zionism
Haredim Jews opposed Zionism because
They insisted that only the coming of the Messiah would signal the time for Jews
to return to the Land of Israel and that humanity shouldn’t try to hurry the
process
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