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May 07, 1993 - Image 46

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-05-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Wpm

ISRAEL page 45

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1

Israelis is a turning inward.
Preliminary research
published by Hebrew
University sociologist
Baruch Kimmerling in the
latest issue of Politika, a
magazine on social, politi-
cal, and cultural affairs,
shows that relationship to
family is the leading compo-
nent of the contemporary
Israeli's identity (34.5 per-
cent placed this category
first).
Only 17.6 percent of
Israeli Jews ranked their
definition of themselves as
"Israelis" as the leading
component of their identity,
whereas 28.3 percent
ranked it as of no impor-
tance at all.
Moreover, though relegat-
ed in importance to third
and fourth place (behind
family membership and
national identify as an
Israeli), the contemporary
Israeli's professional and
sexual identities take pref-
erence over his ethnic, reli-
gious, and political identi-
ties, which have long been
highlighted as key themes
in Israeli life.
Mr. Kimmerling's statis-
tics show that a full 75.3
percent of Israel's Jews
ranked their "ethnic identi-
ty" (Sephardi, Ashkenazi,
and the like) as of no impor-
tance whatever. No other
category was so massively
denied.
Ranked next as least
important was "political
identification."In some ways
Mr. Kimmerling's study
merely confirms what
Israelis know just from
reading the papers and
observing their neighbors.
The Age of Ideology is
over in Israel. Politics has
earned itself a bad name,
and political causes no
longer draw crowds onto the
streets to demonstrate.
Admittedly, pockets of polit-
ical "messianism" have sur-
vived, primarily among
the religious settlers in the
territories. In fact, the set-
tlers (and particularly their
teenaged children) are con-
spicuous among those
opposing the policies of the
Rabin government.
But Israel's "silent major-
ity" has shifted its emphasis
to other values. The "good
life," improved education for
their children, and a desire
to fulfill themselves profes-
sionally — a package more
reminiscent of "life, liberty
and the pursuit of happi-
ness" than of the old values
of simplicity and self-sacri-
fice for the sake of state-
building — have dictated
the tone in Israel for years,
now.

One need only flip
through the advertisements
in the daily papers to see
how far the country's self-
image has changed. Many of
the ads are populated by
yuppie-like characters as
the new national ideal.
Others offer services for get-
ting everything from a horo-
scope to a date, and even a
dose of pornography, over
the phone. They remind
Israelis that their society,
once predominantly rural
and emphatically intimate,
has grown more urbanized
and impersonalized from
year to year.
Time was when Israelis
had the feeling that every-
one in the country knew one
another. Today the resi-
dents of Israel's cities can be

Politics has
earned itself
a bad name, and
causes no longer
draw crowds.

as prone to the effects of
anomie — loneliness and
emotional drift — as their
counterpart:3 in London or
Los Angeles.
In line with the current
mood of yearning for the
good old days, when Israelis
kept a stiff upper lip and
young people were taught to
defend themselves with
sticks, if necessary, this
45th Independence Day was
something of a nostalgic
affair.
The state television net-
work, once a strongly unify-
ing medium (that has been
surpassed by the cable revo-
lution), reminisced
about its 25 years on the
air. Rather than spread out
through the territories (as
so many people did last
year), Israelis jammed the
heart of the country, flowing
into Tel Aviv to watch the
"fly past" and "float past"
performed by the Air Force
and the Navy. In the best
tradition, Exodus was
shown on television. Yaffa
Yarkoni sang songs from
the War of Independence
(which ring increasingly
hollow with every passing
year), and the Armored
Corps opened its memorial
to exhibition.
But at 45, Israel seems a
bit tired, staid, interested in
celebrating itself modestly
and, above all, with a mini-
mum of wrack and ruin.
Some people find that disap-
pointing. Others think it
more refreshing. ❑

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