Immigration and Ethnic Formation in a Deeply Divided Society

The Case of the 1990s Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union in Israel


Author: Majid Al-Haj
This book deals with the ethnic formation among the 1990s immigrants from the former Soviet Union in Israel, in light of both domestic changes, and developments in the Israel- Arab conflict. Based on a broad variety of quantitative and qualitative methods, the book presents a detailed analysis of identity patterns among these immigrants, their orientation in matters of religion, society, culture and politics, and their relationships with all the constituent groups in Israeli society – including the Palestinian minority.
The book provides a new critical perspective on questions of immigration, ethnicity and society in Israel. The analysis is placed in a global theoretical context that challenges the dominant approach in the sociology of immigration in Israel, which is based on the Zionist paradigm.

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Majid Al-Haj, Ph.D. (1984) in Sociology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is Professor of Sociology and the Head of the Center for Multiculturalism at the University of Haifa. He has published extensively on demography, ethnicity and education including Education, Empowerment and Control: The Case of the Arabs in Israel (SUNY, 1995).
Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union in Israel
Immigrants’ Survey
Survey of the General Population
Students’ Survey
Focus Groups

Chapter 1. Theoretical Framework
Definitions of “Ethnic Group”
Immigration and Ethnic Formation
Ethnic Mobilization
The Reactive Perspective
The Competitive Model of Ethnic Mobilization
Criticism of the Reactive and Competitive Approaches
Rational Choice Theory
The Role of the State

Chapter 2. Israeli Society: A Background
Immigration and the Construction of Social Boundaries
Unique vs. Typical Immigration
An Ideological Value or a Means to Achieve Political Goals
Immigration and Ethnic Formation in Israel
Background of Jewish Ethnicity
Ethnic Composition over Time
Ethnicity as a Socio-Cultural Rift
The Modernization-Establishment Approach
The Melting Pot Ideology
Counter-approaches to Ethnic Relations
Ethnic mobilization
Ethnicity and the Religious-Nonreligious Divide
The Jewish-Arab Divide
Policy toward the Palestinians in Israel
Social Change
Economic Deterritorialization
Political Territorialization
Multiculturalism vs. Tribalism in Israeli Society

Chapter 3. The Jews of Russia and the Former Soviet Union: Background and
Waves of Immigration
Emigration by Russian/Soviet/FSU Jews
The First Waves to Palestine
Immigrants from the Soviet Union in the 1970s
Ethiopia: A New Reservoir of Immigrants
Aspirations for Aliya from the West
The 1990s Wave
Main Trends
Differences between the 1970s and the 1990s Waves

Chapter 4. Identity Patterns and Ethnic Formation
Communal Ethnic Organizations
Sources of Information, Russian-Language Media
Motivation for Migration and Connection with the Home Country
Non-Jewish immigrants
The Other – Definition: How Veteran Israelis Perceive the Immigrants

Chapter 5. Attitudes toward Civil Society and Freedom of Expression
Character of Israel
Attitudes toward Peace
Freedom of Expression
Communication Environments
The Ranking of Rights

Chapter 6. Political Organization
Voting Patterns in the Knesset Elections
Collective vs. Individual Factors behind the Voting Patterns
Factors behind the Voting for Prime Minister
The Elections of 2003
Local Elections

Chapter 7. Immigrants versus Israeli Society
Adjustment Patterns
Residential Adjustment
Economic Adjustment
Social Adjustment
Mutual Influence
Immigrants’ Social Distance from Other Groups in Israel
Social Distance from Arabs
Social Distance from other Jewish Groups

Chapter 8. Attitudes of Veteran Groups toward Immigrants
Attitudes in the Early 1990s
Jewish Leadership
Jewish Public
The Arab Leadership
Arab Public
Trends over Time: A Decade later
Internal Divisions within Jewish Populations
Tolerance of Separate Immigrant Organizations
Social Distance
The Attitudes of the Younger Generation
Social Distance as Felt by the Younger Generation

Concluding Remarks

List of tables
List of Figures

All those interested in Ethnicity, Migration, Multiculturalism, Minorities, Israel Studies, Middle Eastern Studies and Soviet Studies