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Author(s): Moshkovitz, Yuval
Date: 2014
Abstract: This is a psychosocial research project investigating ‘national identity’ amongst middle class Jewish-Israelis in Britain. Its aim is to map key contents and highlight social categories that subjects draw on in their construction of ‘national identity’ and to study how they negotiate these categories and contents when narrating a story of ‘who they are’ as Israelis in Britain. The first part of the thesis provides historical and theoretical background to the study of national identities, with a focus on Jewish-Israeli identity in the context of Zionism. An empirical study is then presented, in which twelve Israelis living in London were interviewed in depth about their views on Israeli national identity, what it meant personally to them to be ‘an Israeli’, and what it meant to be ‘an Israeli in London’. Interviews were transcribed and a critical narrative approach was used to analyze the resulting texts, taking account of reflexive interview processes as well as exploring links with the broader cultural and political context. The findings reveal the elasticity and fluidity of ‘Israeli identity’. Subjects drew on a shared cultural reservoir - Zionist images, preconceptions and signifiers - to describe their personalized experience of belonging to or alienation from an acceptable notion of ‘Israeliness’ while living abroad. ‘Israeli identity’ was constructed against stereotypical images of ‘the others’ which, at times, applied racist discourse. Subjects constructed ‘Israeliness’ differently depending on the context they referred to (e.g. Israeli or British society). Each context had its distinct ‘others’. Within the British context Israeliness was constructed against the images of ‘the local Jews’, the ‘English’ and the ‘local Arabs and Muslims’. Constructing an Israeli identity was also influenced by the social position that subjects were implicated in, in relation to their class, ethnicity, gender, or occupation. This also shaped their experience of dislocation in Britain. Most of the participants conformed with a mainstream perspective on Israeli nationalism and refrained from criticizing it. This was interpreted as a discourse reflecting their privileged socio-cultural position in Israel and their commitment to a Zionist ethos which condemns emigration. Such a portrayal of Israeliness both initiated and contributed to a sense of unsettledness characteristic of this middle-class group. Subjects moved back and forth between two identificatory positions (‘Ha’aretz’ and ‘Israel’) as their points of identification constantly changed. The research contributes to the analysis of nationalism phenomena and associated concepts such as diaspora and belonging among a middle class group of migrants. It outlines cultural, material and political forces that sustain nationalism yet also demonstrates ways through which subjects negotiate or resist the discourses and social categories offered to them for the construction of a ‘national identity’.
Date: 2015
Abstract: On the 12th November, 2015, City University published independent academic research on British Jewish attitudes towards Israel. Funded by Yachad, 1,131 adult British Jews were surveyed on their views on Israel by Ipsos Mori between March and June of 2015. The research design, analysis and interpretation of the data was carried out by a research team comprising: Stephen Miller, Emeritus Professor of Social Research in the Department of Sociology at City University London; Margaret Harris, Emeritus Professor of Voluntary Sector Organisation, Aston University, and Visiting Professor at Birkbeck, University of London; and Colin Shindler, Emeritus Professor of Israel Studies, SOAS, University of London.

The research found that Israel plays a central role for British Jews, with 93% saying the Jewish state plays a “central”, “important” or “some” role in their Jewish identity, and 90% supporting Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. It reflected significant concerns about the security situation in Israel with many respondents ambivalent about withdrawal from the West Bank because of security concerns (50% vs 33% support the proposition that “Israeli control of the West Bank is vital for Israel’s security”), despite commitment to a two-state solution.

In addition:

75% stated that settlement expansion formed a “major” obstacle to peace. 68% endorsed the statement “I feel a sense of despair every time Israel approves an expansion of the settlements”.
73% felt that Israel’s current approach to the peace process has damaged its standing in the world.
There is strong support for Israel to “cede territory” in order to achieve peace (62% for, 25% against). But if withdrawal is seen as posing a risk to Israel’s security, the majority then oppose withdrawal (50%:33%).
61% felt that the Israeli government’s first priority should be “pursuing peace negotiations with the Palestinians. 64% felt they had the right to judge Israel’s actions though they do not live there.
58% agree with the statement that Israel “will be seen as an apartheid state if it tries to retain control over borders that contain more Arabs than Jews” (22% disagree).
Almost 80% of respondents consider that, in the context of the conflicts raging around the world, those who condemn Israel’s military actions “are guilty of applying double standards”.
“Hawks” on Israel significantly overestimated how widely their views were shared by a factor of two while “doves” underestimated theirs by 10%. British Jews who believe Palestinians have no claim to own land think their views are shared by 49% of British Jewry, despite the actual figure being 14%.
Hannah Weisfeld, director of Yachad said of the findings of the report:

“The community is shifting. Feelings of despair, conflict between loyalty to Israel and concern over policies of the government are mainstream not marginal positions. The research shows we are more willing to speak out on these issues than ever before. Members of Anglo-Jewry who have previously been afraid to give voice to their concerns over Israeli government policy, should realise that they are in fact part of the majority.

This is against the backdrop of a Jewish community that remains fully committed to Israel and its centrality to Jewish identity.”
Author(s): Cairns, Lucille
Date: 2015
Abstract: This book considers the differing emotional investments in Israel of, on the one hand, Jews physically domiciled in Israel and, on the other hand, diasporic Jews living outside Israel for whom the country nonetheless forms a central point of affect. The book’s purpose is to trace how these two types of investment are represented by francophone Jewish writers. Israel is at once a problematic geopolitical reality in international politics and a salient topos within Jewish cultural imaginaries that transcend national boundaries. However, it has often been claimed that Israel has a “special” relationship with France, which until 1967 was its greatest ally. Israel has a large francophone community (some 800,000), while France has the largest Jewish community in Europe (some 600,000). But Franco-Israeli relations have undergone radical, largely negative transformations under the Fifth Republic (1958- ). The scope of the book is wide, addressing the following questions. How do francophone Jewish writers represent Israel in their literary works? What responses to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict do they express both in these works and in non-literary discourse (interviews and journalistic articles)? What is the role in those responses of emotion, affect, cognition, and ethics? To answer these questions, the book examines 44 different autobiographies, memoirs and novels published between 1965 and 2012 by 27 different authors, both male and female, covering the full cultural spectrum of Jews: Ashkenazic, Sephardic, and Mizrahi. The approach of the book is interdisciplinary, combining literary analysis with insights from the domains of history, journalism, philosophy, politics, psychoanalysis, and sociology.
Author(s): Kranz, Dani
Date: 2016
Date: 2006
Abstract: Far from being a blank space on the Jewish map, or a void in the Jewish cultural world, post-Shoah Europe is a place where Jewry has continued to develop, even though it is facing different challenges and opportunities than elsewhere. Living on a continent characterized by highly diverse patterns of culture, language, history, and relations to Jews, European Jewry mirrors that kaleidoscopic diversity. This volume explores such key questions as the new roles for Jews in Europe; models of Jewish community organization in Europe; concepts of diaspora and galut; a European-Jewish way of life in the era of globalization; and European Jews' relationship to Israel and to non-Jews. Some contributions highlight experiences of Jews in Britain, Sweden, Norway, Hungary, Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands. Helping us to understand the special and common characteristics of European Jewry, this collection offers a valuable contribution to the continued rebuilding of Jewish life in the postwar era.

Sandra Lustig and Ian Leveson
Chapter 1. A New Role for Jews in Europe: Challenges and Responsibilities
Diana Pinto
Chapter 2. European Models of Community: Can Ambiguity Help?
Clive A. Lawton
Chapter 3. Concepts of Diaspora and Galut
Michael Galchinsky
Chapter 4. ‘Homo Zappiens’: A European-Jewish Way of Life in the Era of Globalisation
Lars Dencik
Chapter 5. Israel and Diaspora: From Solution to Problem
Göran Rosenberg
Chapter 6. Left Over – Living after the Shoah: (Re-)building Jewish Life in Europe. A Panel Discussion
Sandra Lustig
Chapter 7. Debora’s Disciples: AWomen’s Movement as an Expression of Renewing Jewish Life in Europe
Lara Dämmig and Elisa Klapheck
Chapter 8. A Jewish Cultural Renascence in Germany?
Y. Michal Bodemann
Chapter 9. The Jewish Space in Europe
Diana Pinto
Chapter 10. Caught between Civil Society and the Cultural Market: Jewry and the Jewish Space in Europe. A Response to Diana Pinto
Ian Leveson and Sandra Lustig
Chapter 11. ‘The Germans Will Never Forgive the Jews for Auschwitz’. When Things Go Wrong in the Jewish Space: The Case of the Walser-Bubis Debate
Sandra Lustig
Notes on Contributors
Date: 2010
Date: 2011
Abstract: In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:
In 2009 Natan Sharansky, formerly an iconic Soviet refusenik and now an Israeli politician, was named chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, the wing of the Israeli government historically charged with fostering Jewish immigration to Israel, traditionally known as aliya. Sharansky, however, immediately reformulated the central mission of the Jewish Agency away from aliya and toward the strengthening of secular Jewish identity around the world. The Forward reported:

At the center of Sharansky's plan is the notion of peoplehood. He and a tight group of ideological allies—mostly other Russian Jews—believe that the Jewish Agency must now become a global promoter of Jewish identity, particularly among the young. Peoplehood, according to its proponents, is defined as a sense of connectivity between Jews who share a common history and fate.

With Sharansky's ascent to this particular position and the concurrent shift in the Jewish Agency's mission from fomenter of migration to builder of secular Jewish identity, Soviet Jews have moved to the center of conversations about Jewish identity and culture. These new developments give reason to think seriously about Soviet Jewish culture and its impact on global Jewish culture. Indeed, a growing number of books and articles on the subject indicate that there is a new body of scholarship, defined by a cultural studies approach to the Soviet and post-Soviet Jewish experience. These new studies come from varied disciplines, such as history, anthropology, film studies, and literary criticism, to name a few, but they all put culture and cultural production at the center of scholarship on Soviet and post-Soviet Jewish community and identity. We call this emerging field "Soviet Jewish Cultural Studies." This newly developing field sweeps across temporal and spatial boundaries. It encompasses Jewish experiences in both the Soviet and post-Soviet eras, as well as within the borders of the Former Soviet Union and outside of it, in Israel, North America, or elsewhere, wherever Soviet and post-Soviet Jews have migrated. What the subjects of all of this research have in common is the experience of having lived under the Soviet Union with its radical experiments in Jewish identity and culture.

Scholars working in this emerging field generally do not look at Soviet and post-Soviet Jews through the more traditional lenses of vanishing diasporas, Soviet anti-Semitism, and the disappearance of Yiddish and Hebrew cultures. Rather than approaching the Jewish experience of Soviet Jews with presumptions of what it means to be Jewish, and whether in fact Soviet Jews measure up, this scholarship asks what it means to be Jewish in a Soviet and post-Soviet context. In what ways is Jewishness performed and represented? By taking a birds-eye, interdisciplinary view, we want to redefine the field of Soviet Jewish Studies, and to use particular examples of the new research to suggest what a cultural studies approach reveals about Soviet and post-Soviet Jewish culture. We will demonstrate first that scholars of Soviet Jewish Cultural Studies have focused on new forms of Jewish practice that have sometimes supplanted traditional religious practices. Secondly, we show that this body of scholarship in Soviet Jewish Cultural Studies complicates the idea that twentieth century Jewish history is a history of assimilation, a movement downward from authentic Jewish practice rooted in Jewish languages to the end of a distinctive Jewish life. Most importantly, this new scholarship takes a global rather than national perspective, since post-Soviet Jewry is one of the most transnational in contemporary Jewish life. Thus, in a post-Soviet, post-Zionist, post-assimilationist moment in global Jewish culture, this group of Jews with their unique cultural history may be placed at the center, not periphery, of the global Jewish experience. Therefore, the body of scholarship forming Soviet Jewish Cultural Studies has much to offer to scholars in Jewish and Russian Studies, as well as Diaspora Studies.
Editor(s): Troen, S. Ilan
Date: 1998