Multiculturalism and Intergroup Relations

By James S. Frideres | Go to book overview

9.
INTEGRATION: STRUCTURAL DISCRIMINATION OR TIME LAG? THE CASE OF ISRAEL

Aaron Antonovsky

The purpose of this chapter is twofold. First, I shall seek, within the brief space allotted, to present my understanding of the nature of Jewish ethnic relations in Israel as they have developed since the formation of the state in 1948. Second, with due sensitivity to the uniqueness of every historical development, I shall briefly note the theoretical lessons that can be learned from this case study.

Let us define ethnic integration as a social situation in a multi- ethnic society in which ethnic-group membership is irrelevant to the achievement of the valued life chances in that society. Our central concern will be to understand those factors that promote or impede integration. Let us assume that our focus excludes those societies that are avowedly colonialist or in which ethnic relations are best understood in terms of an exclusionary-domination model. 1 The case of Israel is relevant, I believe, both to older immigrant societies and to the many new nation-states that have emerged since World War II.

In the early 1960s we witnessed an expression of national collective involvement comparable in intensity to the first time the Israeli basketball team won the European championship or to the return of the hijacked airplane passengers from Entebbe, but this was a phenomenon that lasted for many months. Ephraim Kishon, Israel's leading humorist, produced a film built around one of the characters he had made familiar in his newspaper column, "Salah Shabati." Haim Topol, later of Fiddler on the Roof fame, portrayed Salah in the film. Israeli Moroccans tended to see Salah as a Yemenite; the

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