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Constructing Boundaries

Jewish and Arab Workers in Mandatory Palestine

Deborah S. Bernstein

Publication Year: 2000

An interdisciplinary study discussing the impact of the national crisis in Mandatory Palestine on relations between Jewish and Arab workers and their respective labor movements. Constructing Boundaries examines the competition, interaction, and impact among Jewish and Arab workers in the labor market of Mandatory Palestine. It is both a labor market study, based on the Split Labor Market Theory, and a case study of the labor market of Haifa, the center of economic development in Mandatory Palestine. Bernstein demonstrates the impact of the pervasive national conflict on the relations between the workers of the two nationalities and between their labor movements. She analyzes the attempts of Jewish workers to construct boundaries between themselves and the Arab workers, and also highlights cases of cooperation between Jewish and Arab workers and of joint class struggle.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Israeli Studies

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-v


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pp. vii-ix


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pp. xi


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pp. xiii

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pp. xv-xvi

This book has been in the making for quite a few years, but never in a vacuum. No writing of history takes place in a vacuum, and certainly not in Israel/Palestine. New questions have emerged, new perspectives, new insights, as circumstances have constantly changed. Even the words have taken on different meanings. I began this study at the...

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pp. 1-16

Ya'acov Davidon arrived in Haifa, a port town in the north of Palestine, on the 2nd of November, 1921.1 He had come by train from Jaffa, and made his way through the narrow streets of the Arab suq, heading toward the wooden huts that his friends, of the builders' collective, had constructed on the lower slopes of Mount Carmel. The streets were almost...

Part I. The Split Develops

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Chapter 1. The Split Labor Market of Mandatory Palestine: Actors, Sectors, and Strategies

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pp. 19-47

The end of the First World War and the beginning of British rule in Palestine marked the start of a period of rapid demographic and economic growth. This was triggered, in large measure, by the influx of Jewish immigration and the consolidation of the new Jewish settlement. Jewish colonization led to a complex interaction with the resident...

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Chapter 2. Haifa-Growing and Growing Apart

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pp. 48-80

...To the young Jewish laborers, arriving in Haifa in the early 1920S, the town seemed heavy with sleep. It was they who shook it awake, they thought. This was not quite so. The slumbering small Arab settlement had begun to awaken in 1831 when Ibrahim Pasha, the son of the Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali, conquered it from the Turks. Consular representatives...

Part II. In the Labor Market

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Chapter 3. Construction-Competing at the Work Site

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pp. 83-108

Construction demonstrates better than any other urban industry the dual process of interpenetration and separation between the Jewish and Arab sectors. The abundant availability of cheap and experienced Arab labor, in a labor-intensive industry, threatened the position of Jewish workers. This threat led the Jewish labor movement to invest much effort in erecting barriers and blocking the access of Arab workers....

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Chapter 4. Manufacturing Industry-Almost Separate

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pp. 109-139

As we move from construction to manufacturing, from the building site to the factory, the reciprocal impact that Jewish and Arab labor had on each other takes on a very different form. In contrast to the direct competition between Jewish and Arab construction workers and their fear of possible substitution, Jewish manufacturing workers were hardly affected by the availability of much cheaper...

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Chapter 5. The Haifa Port-Entering the Gateway

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pp. 140-165

The government sector created new dilemmas for Jewish labor and led to new strategies in the competition of Jewish and Arab workers. Both the dilemmas and the strategies were clearly demonstrated in the labor market of Haifa. Haifa's strategic position led the British to select it as the site for several enterprises that linked Palestine to the rest of the...

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Chapter 6. The Palestine Railways: "Here We Are All Natives..." or the Limits of Cooperation

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pp. 166-205

Side by side with the merchants, consuls and missionaries, the railways forged the way for the European powers into the declining Ottoman empire. Palestine, with its strategic and religious appeal, was of special interest. Railroad lines were built, eventually changing both hands and gauge, in ways that reflected much of the political, social, and economic...

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pp. 206-215

This study began by questioning the starting point of much Israeli historiography, by questioning the separateness and isolation of the Jewish community in Palestine, the Jewish Yishuv. The close proximity of Jews and Arabs and its impact has been overlooked by most students of the Jewish settlement. It has concerned those studying the...


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pp. 217-218


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pp. 219


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pp. 221-254


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pp. 255-266

Subject Index

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pp. 267-273

Name Index

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pp. 275-277

E-ISBN-13: 9780791492758
E-ISBN-10: 0791492753
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791445396
Print-ISBN-10: 0791445399

Page Count: 277
Illustrations: 10 b/w photographs, 12 tables
Publication Year: 2000

Series Title: SUNY series in Israeli Studies