The Two Israels
RIOTING SUDDENLY broke out in Haifa’s Wadi Salib quarter three summers ago when its inhabitants-many of them Moroccan immigrants-raced through Haifa’s business section and smashed the windows of European shopkeepers. The immediate cause of the riots (a policeman shooting a tipsy Moroccan stevedore in a scuffle) was quickly forgotten in the violent communal outburst, for it was apparent that the incident had brought out into the open the resentment and hostility which had long been smoldering among many non-European immigrants. As the disorder and rumors spread, the first reaction of shock grew into an uneasy awareness that these minorities might have good cause for protesting that Israeli society was rigged against them.
The idea of “Two Israels” took root during those tense days. Like other phrases of popular sociology it neatly sums up some complex social realities: in this case, the division of Israeli society into two cultural camps. One Israel stands for the early generations of European immigrants-the Israel of pioneering visions and their aftermath, the veteran kibbutzim, fashionable north Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem’s elite Rechavia. This Israel, European if not European-American in culture, dreams the dream of the Good Society of Plenty. The other Israel is the more recent, and its origins are in Moslem lands; it is the Israel of Yemenite villages and Moroccan development-area towns, Tel Aviv slums, and the old Kurdish quarter of Jerusalem. Its dreams are of steady jobs, social acceptance, and a better life for the young. Within each of the “Two Israels” there is of course any number of sub-groupings; but the popular splitting of the society into two major parts reflects something both real and important.
About the Author