ANT 325L Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Revisionist Zionism, Jewish Diaspora, Haredi Judaism
Course CodeANT 325L
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Chapter 4 — Society
• 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 it’s 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
• 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
◦ Old millennia of Diaspora = perceived as conformist and subservient, slow
◦ New millennia (today) = perceived as confident, empowered and in control
▪ Heavily influenced by host societies and have discontinuities with their
▪ Still have a lot in common with old millennia because of traditions.
• Tensions between the two groups is mediated by Jewish tradition and historic
• 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
• 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
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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
• 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
• 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
• 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
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