The Great Immigration: Russian Jews in Israel

By Dina Siegel | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

Israel loves immigration, but does not like immigrants. (Israeli Proverb)

M ore than two million out of the five-and-a-half million Israelis were not born in Israel, having migrated from different countries at different periods of time. The influx of Jews from the former Soviet Union between 1988 and 1995, which in this book is called 'the Great Immigration', took place at a crucial time. On one hand, Glasnost and Perestroika occupied minds and emotions in the world. On the other hand, many countries were engaged in the search for a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East. In the shadow of these sensational events and changes, the mass immigration of the Soviet Jewry did not receive proper attention. In Israel, nobody expected that within a short period of time more than 750,000 Jews would arrive. And even those who did predict such a possibility (these were officials, occupied in the 'immigration and absorption' industry) were not prepared for it. They considered it as just another wave of immigration', to be treated no differently to all the previous ones. However, for the first time in the history of Israel, the scale and nature of this immigration were such that it changed the whole approach and even ideology of the country.

The traditional idea of return to, and settlement in, Israel is rooted in religion. Orthodox Jews believe that when the Messiah arrives, all Jews will live in the Land of Israel. However, in secular Zionist ideology, Jews are not supposed to wait passively until the arrival of the Messiah; they have to repatriate to Israel, where they have historic rights, in order to build their home there. Zionists believe that Israel is a Jewish state, and

-xvii-

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The Great Immigration: Russian Jews in Israel
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations viii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • List of Abbreviations xv
  • Introduction xvii
  • 1- Russian Jewish Immigration to Israel In Its Historical Perspective 1
  • 2- the Russian Jewish Community -- Myth And Reality 23
  • 3- the Creation Of a ' Public Problem' 73
  • 4- the Relationship With Other Ethnic Groups 116
  • 5 - Political Absorption 143
  • 6. Conclusions 189
  • Epilogue 195
  • Appendices 197
  • Glossary 205
  • Bibliography 207
  • Index 211
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