Israel is a relatively small country (covering an area of 21,501 square kilometers) with a population in 1989 of 4.5 million. Approximately 83 percent of Israeli citizens are Jews, with the remainder divided between Arabs, Druze, and some other minority communities. The major distinction within the Jewish population is between those who immigrated from countries in Europe or America and their descendants and those who came to Israel from Asia and Africa and their offspring. The Jewish population is divided roughly equally between these two groups. The state, founded in 1948 after thirty years of British rule, adopted a parliamentary unitary regime that provided the government with considerable power. The 120 members of Israel's unicameral legislature (Knesset) are party delegates. The electoral system is extremely proportional, granting each party winning over 1 percent of the total vote parliamentary representation. The country is a party democracy where political parties hold pervasive power over both political and socioeconomic affairs ( Arian, 1989, p. 7). The major parties are the right-wing Likud and the Labor Party. Israel is currently an affluent society with a national income in 1989 of $11,540 per capita. To some extent the country shares several problems with the rest of the Western world: the decline in parental authority, the disintegration of the family, the exposure to violence in the media, and the alienation of the individual. In addition, Israel faces three problems that may be unique: immigration, the memories of the Nazi Holocaust, and, most important, the strains of a precarious security. Some 20 percent of the national income is earmarked for defense expenditures.
Israel is one of a handful of "new societies" throughout the world founded
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Publication information: Book title: International Handbook on Mental Health Policy. Contributors: Donna R. Kemp - Editor. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1993. Page number: 109.