Area Handbook for Israel

By Harvey H. Smith; Frederica M. Bunge et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6 SOCIAL STRUCTURES

The society, drawn from heterogeneous origins, is complex but cohesive and is deeply conscious of history and tradition though subject to change. It is democratic and egalitarian but confronted with the unique problems of a large, unassimilated minority differentiated by religion and political factors. The society is characterized more distinctly in terms of segments, or groupings than by rigid forms of stratification. Mobility is possible in all directions, but not with equal ease in all, and is more likely to occur within major groupings than across them.

The principal structural division is between the Jewish majority and the non-Jewish minority. The important subgroupings within the majority are the Ashkenazi Jews of European origin, who were dominant in the prestate Jewish community in Palestine, in the initial immigrations after statehood in 1948, and in the subsequent leadership of the state; and the Sephardic Jews of Middle Eastern and North African background who were the most numerous immigrants after 1952. The latter, with their progeny, formed the largest segment of the population in 1969 (see ch. 4, Population). Native- born Israelis, known as Sabras, are generally identifiable with either an Ashkenazi or Sephardic background, but are forming a new stratum that will ultimately be predominant in the society. Also within the Jewish sector, and mostly of Western background, is the small grouping of ultra-Orthodox Jews, identifiable by distinctive customs and representing one of the main stresses in the society, that of secular versus religious interpretation and determination (see ch. 17, Political Values and Attitudes; ch. 12, Social Values).

The non-Jewish minority is indigenous. It consists of Arab Muslims and Arab Christians, plus small numbers of Circassian Muslims and of Druzes, and their descendants, who remained in Israel at the time of statehood in 1948 or later gained readmission.

The state was founded under the influence of an ideology dedicated to the socialist principles of a classless society functioning by team- work (as in the kibbutz), in which the role of the individual should be encompassed within and subordinate to the society in all its phases. These concepts are apparent in the general informality of Israeli society, with its easy communication between individuals; in the

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Area Handbook for Israel
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface v
  • COUNTRY SUMMARY vii
  • Contents xi
  • SECTION I. SOCIAL 1
  • Chapter 2 - PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT 13
  • Chapter 3 Historical Setting 29
  • Chapter 4 - POPULATION 55
  • Chapter 5 Ethnic Groups and Languages 67
  • Chapter 6 Social Structures 75
  • Chapter 7 Family 89
  • CHAPTER 8 - LIVING CONDITIONS 98
  • Chapter 9 - EDUCATION 113
  • Chapter 10 - ARTISTIC AND INTELLECTUAL EXPRESSION 131
  • Chapter 12 - SOCIAL VALUES 153
  • SECTION II. POLITICAL 163
  • Chapter 14 - POLITICAL DYNAMICS 187
  • Chapter 15 Foreign Relations 209
  • Chapter 16 - PUBLIC INFORMATION 221
  • Chapter 17 - POLITICAL VALUES AND ATTITUDES 239
  • Chapter 18 - BIOGRAPHIES OF SELECTED KEY PERSONALITIES 255
  • SECTION III. ECONOMIC 273
  • Chapter 20 Agriculture 285
  • Chapter 21 Industry 299
  • Chapter 22 Labor 311
  • Chapter 23 - DOMESTIC TRADE 333
  • Chapter 24 - FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS 345
  • Chapter 25 Financial and Monetary System 357
  • SECTION IV. NATIONAL SECURITY 369
  • Chapter 27 - PUBLIC ORDER AND INTERNAL SECURITY 397
  • Index 447
  • PUBLISHED AREA HANDBOOKS 457
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