For many years before and after the establishment of the state of Israel, the belief that Israel is a western state remained unchallenged. This belief was founded on the predominantly western composition of the pre-statehood Jewish community known as the Yishuv. The relatively homogenous membership of Israeli/Jewish society as it then existed was soon altered with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants from Middle Eastern countries during the early years of statehood. Seeking to retain the western character of the Jewish state, the Israeli government initiated a massive acculturation project aimed at westernizing the newcomers.

More recently, scholars and intellectuals began to question the validity and logic of that campaign. With the emergence of new forms of identity, or identities, two central questions emerged: to what extent can we accept the ways in which people define themselves? And on a more fundamental level, what weight should we give to the ways in which people define themselves? This book suggests ways of tackling these questions and provides varying perspectives on identity, put forward by scholars interested in the changing nature of Israeli identity. Their observations and conclusions are not exclusive, but inclusive, suggesting that there cannot be one single Israeli identity, but several.

Tackling the issue of identity, this multidisciplinary approach is an important contribution to existing literature and will be invaluable for scholars and students interested in cultural studies, Israel, and the wider Middle East.

chapter |12 pages

Israel in or of the Middle East

ByDavid Tal

part I|70 pages

In or out of the Middle East

chapter 1|11 pages

How it began

Europe vs. the Middle East in the orientation of the first Zionist settlers
ByAlan Dowty

chapter 2|25 pages

Israel and the Middle East

On the unresolved matter of Israel's foreign policy orientation
ByAharon Klieman

chapter 3|14 pages

Unfortunate misplacement

Israeli-Jewish public perceptions of Israel in the Middle East
ByTamar Hermann, Ephraim Yaar-Yuchtman

chapter 4|18 pages

The Israeli party system in comparative perspective

A ‘unique case' or part of the West European tradition?
ByCsaba Nikolenyi

part II|114 pages

Contested identities

chapter 5|20 pages

Where East meets West

ByDavid Ohana

chapter 6|13 pages

The irresolvable geographies of Mediterranean-Israeli music

ByAmy Horowitz

chapter 8|21 pages

Double exclusion and the search for inessential solidarities

The experience of Iraqi Jews as heralding a new concept of identity and belonging
ByReuven Snir

chapter 9|16 pages

Remote participants

Lessons about Israeli identity from the experience of Israeli parents in America
ByUdi Sommer, Michal Ben Zvi Sommer

chapter 10|20 pages

The Israeli triangle

(De)constructing the borders between Israeliness, Jewishness and migrant workers
ByRobin A. Harper, Hani Zubida

part III|39 pages

Cinema and identity

chapter 11|13 pages

Israeli cinema's ‘I'm in the East and my heart is in the West’

ByIgal Bursztyn

chapter 13|13 pages

MediterEastern blues

New discourses of locality in Israeli cinema
ByMiri Talmon

part IV|56 pages

Arabs and Jews

chapter 14|25 pages

Israeli-Palestinian conflict

The psychosocial and identity impact on Arab and Jewish adolescents in Israel
ByAlean Al-Krenawi

chapter 15|15 pages

Paradoxes of identity

Jewish/Muslim interpenetration in Almog Behar and Sayed Kashua
ByRanen Omer-Sherman

chapter 16|14 pages

Democracy and liberal-democratic values in Religious-Zionist discourse

The case of Halakhic Q&A websites
ByOren Steinitz