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The First Decade of Independence

S. Ilan Troen, Noah Lucas

Publication Year: 1995

This book provides new interpretations and research findings, from a wide spectrum of viewpoints, on Israel's formative first decade of independence. Israel presents a panoramic display of fresh interpretations and new research findings related to Israel’s first decade of independence. Those years of rapid change are widely regarded as a formative period in the development of the state and the society. As new archival materials have become available for scrutiny, a new generation of historians and social scientists has begun to re-examine old issues and to raise new questions. In this context of academic ferment, scholars in diverse disciplines, of different generations and of opposing ideological orientations, have collaborated in this book in examining the period anew. Thirty-two authoritative essays offer new understandings from the diverse perspectives of history, political science, sociology, literary criticism, geography, anthropology, and law. The intention is to provide a wide-ranging reconsideration of post-independence Israel that will serve as a benchmark for future study and research.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Israeli Studies

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v


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pp. vii-x


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pp. xi


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pp. xiii


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pp. xv

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An Introduction to Research on Israel's First Decade

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pp. 1-28

The establishment of the State of Israel was widely expected to usher in a new epoch not only in the life of the Jewish community in Palestine, but in the long annals of the Jewish people. This was certainly the expectation of David BenGurion, the pre-eminent leader of the Yishuv who read out the proclamation of Israel's independence on 14 May 1948. He graphically indicated in his diary the specific moment of revolutionary change. In one of the notebooks in which...


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pp. 29

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1. Israel's First Decade: Building a Civic State

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pp. 31-50

This analysis of Israel's early constitutional development focusses primarily on two key dimensions of political systems: the spectrum between universalism and particularism in terms of political norms and ethnic identity, and the distinction, among democratic states, between those wedded to a majoritarian approach and those adopting a consensus (or consociational) system. On one end of the universalist-particularist spectrum...

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2. The Structural Foundation for Religio-Political Accommodation in Israel: Fallacy and Reality

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pp. 51-81

The extent of adherence to Jewish tradition and commitment to the precepts of Judaism has been an issue concerning the modem Jewish community of Palestine/ Israel since the advent of contemporary Zionism (1882). For traditional Jews, the Land of Israel is not merely an arbitrary target of immigration but is first and foremost the Holy Land, thereby entailing mandatory public observance of religious law (Halacha). For secular Zionism, Halacha was an anachronism...

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3. The Road Not Taken: Constitutional Non-Decision Making in 1948-1950 and Its Impact on Civil Liberties in the Israeli Political Culture

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pp. 83-104

The Israeli Declaration of Independence, issued on 14 May 1948, directed that a Constitution for the new state "shall be adopted by the Elected Constituent Assembly not later than the 1st October, 1948."1 The outbreak of war made that timetable impossible. Elections for the Constituent Assembly were held on 25 Janaury 1949 and the Assembly convened on 14 February 1949. Two days later, deciding that the legislative body of the new state would be called...

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4. New Challenges to New Authority: Israeli Grassroots Activism in the 1950s

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pp. 105-122

One of the main attributes of all versions of the democratic model is participation of citizens in the political process. The desired and actual modes of such participation, however, differ considerably from one version to another, in dissimilar political contexts, and they also change over time. In fact, the seemingly self-explanatory term "participation" has been given various operational definitions. Some scholars earmark actual actions such as voting, writing letters...


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pp. 123

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5. The "Utopian Leap" in David Ben-Gurion's Social Thought, 1920-1958

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pp. 125-142

The image of David Ben-Gurion is engraved in historical consciousness and in the view of the wider public as a shrewd politician, as a determined and centralizing organizer, as a statesman and leader who led the political and military struggle for the founding of the State of Israel, and as the one who shaped its statist (mamlachti) form after independence. Ben-Gurion's efforts as one of the leaders of the party- first...

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6. Sharett' s "Line", Struggles, and Legacy

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pp. 143-169

In the late 1940s and the 1950s, all "new Israelis," numerous Diaspora Jews, and many Gentiles admired Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and saw him as the towering political figure of the entire Jewish nation, and certainly of its newly established state. The "old-man"'s rim of unruly white hair, sharply drawn profile, high-pitched voice, prophetic visions, blunt statements, and aggressive outbursts were easily recognizable, and greatly impressed all...

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7. Political Religion in a New State: Ben-Gurion's Mamlachtiyut

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pp. 170-192

During the first years of Israeli independence, the political culture of the new state was dominated by a system of values and symbols that was known as Mamlachtiyut (statism). Statism has various versions and dimensions. In this chapter I will discuss Ben-Gurion's version of statism, which is also the best known and the most influential version of it. My focus will be on statism as a system of fundamental beliefs and symbols. This expressive or symbolic...


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pp. 193

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8. Mapai and the "Kastner Trial"

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pp. 195-210

On 1 January 1954 Judge Benjamin Halevy, presiding over the Jerusalem District Court, began deliberations over criminal file 124/53-the State of Israel versus Malkiel ben Menachem Gruenwald. The proceedings, which soon transformed the "Gruenwald trial'' into the "Kastner trial," lasted for a year and a half. The trial began as a criminal libel suit initiated by...

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9. The Commander of the "Yizkor" Order: Herut ,Holocaust, and Survivors

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pp. 211-228

Twenty-four hours after the establishment of the State of Israel on 15 May 1948, Menahem Begin announced the disbanding of the Etzel (lrgun Zva'i Leumi-the Revisionists' military arm) and its replacement by the Herut movement.1 This new political party was to differ significantly from any that had previously operated in the Yishuv.2 This paper discusses the role played by the new party in their attitude towards Holocaust survivors and their...


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pp. 229

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10. The Economic Regime during Israel's First Decade

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pp. 231-241

The emergence and characteristics of Israel's economic system during the state's formative years may be analyzed from a variety of perspectives, especially those of political science and political economy. Here we shall primarily employ the economist's standpoint without disregarding political issues. The analysis will pay special attention to discontinuities and continuities with the economic system that prevailed prior to 194 7-48 in Palestine generally and in...

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11. The Crisis in the Kibbutz Movement, 1949-1961

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pp. 243-263

The crisis in which the kibbutz movement found itself shortly after the War of Independence was compounded of four or five interlinked dilemmas. During the 1950s some of these problems were wholly or partially resolved, while others remain unsolved to this very day-some because the kibbutzim lacked the strength or the determination to deal with them, others because they are a reflection of basic predicaments immanent in the relationship between the kibbutz...

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12. The Kibbutz in the 1950s; A Transformation of Identity

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pp. 265-278

A kibbutz is primarily a model community. This model embodies the values of sharing, social equality, and self-management, which, overall, had been until recently widely retained over the decades. Yet the same is not true of the relations between the kibbutz and society. The kibbutz's position in the Israeli setting of the 1950s differed greatly from what it was in the days of the Yishuv. This change was intimately bound to the kibbutz's presentation of self...

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13. The Contribution of the Labor Economy to Immigrant Absorption and Population Dispersal during Israel's First Decade

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pp. 279-296

The labor economy, known in its official designation as Hevrat Ha'Ovdim, is an economic arm of the General Federation of Labor (Histadrut). Its roots are embedded in a socialist constructivist outlook which claimed an active role for the labor movement in the building of a national home in Palestine. It was from this outlook that the Histadrut drew up its platform as a workers' organization which in addition to attending to professional concerns was also involved in...

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14. Israeli Nationalism and Socialism before and after 1948

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pp. 297-310

Israel's unique history imparts to its politics an extraordinary complexity that takes it beyond the possibility of simple imitation or replication. At the same time Israeli political experience in the formative decade following the attainment of independence does lend itself to comparison, which is to say that it shares important features with other societies, past and present. Although the State of Israel was established in the aftermath of the Second...


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pp. 311

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15. The Fiction of the "Generation in the Land"

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pp. 313-329

Between 1938 and roughly 1956,1 a group of Hebrew writers rose to prominence in Israel's literary community which has been identified by various names. 2 For the purposes of this article, I shall refer to them as the Dor ba 'aretz (the generation in the land) with the clear understanding that this term designates those writers, who were either born in Eretz Israel, arrived there as children, or even migrated there as young adults but were products of the Zionist...

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16. Israeli Literature as an Emerging National Literature

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pp. 331-353

A recent international conference devoted to the topic of cultural emergence considered including Israeli literature among the literatures to be discussed. This possibility of classifying Israeli literature as "emergent" immediately raised two important questions: first, the nature of Israeli literature in relation to emergent literatures, such as those of the African continent, for example, and, second, the question of the evaluative criteria of emergent literatures generally,...

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17. War and Religiosity: The Sinai Campaign in Public Thought

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pp. 355-373

The paper assumes that the fusion of war and religiosity, which is usually attributed to the Six Day War in 1967 and to the Yom Kippur War in 1973, can be found earlier in the Sinai Campaign in 1956. In our view, this fusion of war and religiosity is not the exclusive province of right or left nor of the religious. It reflects some deep chord in Israeli society and politics in general, which is expressed by public thought.

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18. Early Social Survey Research in and on Israel

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pp. 375-399

Social survey research in and on Israel has a history dating from before the founding of the state itself. Writing to President Truman in 1945, Chaim Weizmann observed that "Palestine, for its size, is probably the most investigated country in the world."1 This statement reflects the long experience of Zionist authorities, both in Palestine and abroad, with exploring Bretz Israel and determining the most effective ways to develop the country economically and...


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pp. 401

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19. The Transfer to Jewish Control of Abandoned Arab Lands during the War of Independence

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pp. 403-440

In modem times, before Israel's War of lndependence in 1948, the acquisition of lands by the Jewish community in Palestine was effected through economic transactions at market prices. The purchase of land by the Jewish community was limited by the lack of resources, limitations on purchases of land imposed by the British Mandate authorities, and the rise of Arab nationalism which proscribed the sale of Arab lands to Jews. Following the United Nations Assembly's...

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20. New Departures in Zionist Planning:The Development Town

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pp. 441-460

Arieh Sharon, director of the the Planning Department within the Prime Minister's Office, was responsible for producing Israel's National Master Plan of 1950. A Bauhaus-trained architect with extensive experience in Mandatory Palestine, he explained the plan's rationale in universal terms: "Any physical planning that aims to determine the use made of the landed resources of a country, and the shape to be given to it must be based on economic, social, and...

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21. Planning, Housing, and Land Policy 1948-1952:The Formation of Concepts and Governmental Frameworks

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pp. 461-494

This chapter presents preliminary research findings regarding the crystallization of a national land use and housing policy, and tikhnun yozem artzi-a Hebrew term coined in 1948 meaning "pro-active," or "initiatory" national planning-during the first years of the State of Israel from 1948 to 1952. The study focuses on attempts to create new concepts and governmental frameworks along with, or supplanting, those of the Zionist movement, the Jewish...

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22. Creating Homogeneous Space: The Evolution of Israel's Regional Councils

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pp. 495-519

The period of transition from Yishuv to state was accompanied by the need to translate many of the ideas and philosophies of Zionism into tangible realities. The newly independent state and its institutions were meant to reflect the unique input of a Zionist utopian worldview, while at the same time providing for an efficient and relatively smooth apparatus for the management and administration of a state which desired to take its place as an equal amongst...


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pp. 521

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23. Styles of Ethnic Adaptation: Interpreting Iraqi and Moroccan Settlement in Israel

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pp. 523-542

This chapter1 focuses upon a major issue in studies of the entry of immigrants into Israeli society: How can one best understand the different directions, or contrasting styles, that are found when comparing between immigrant groups? Why do certain groups emphasize particular modes of social and cultural organization? How can differences in their adaptation best be explained? Let me first clarify what I propose to do, and briefly indicate how this differs...

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24. Mapam and the European and Oriental Immigrations

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pp. 543-556

Mass immigration was a central experience during the formative years of the state. Considerable historical and social research on this period has focused on the encounter between a multitude of immigrants and the bureaucracy charged with their absorption into Israeli society. This paper investigates one aspect of this topic: the role of political parties in the absorption of the post-Independence mass aliya. The involvement of...

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25. The Silent Partner: Holocaust Survivors in the IDF

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pp. 557-572

The birth of the State of Israel in 1948 was accompanied by two major dramas: the struggle of the War of Independence and the influx of tens of thousands of new immigrants in what came to be called the "Mass Ali yah." European Jews, most of whom were Holocaust survivors, were the first to come. The vast majority arrived during the War of Independence. In effect, there was a convergence of the process of immigrant absorption and a desperate struggle for...


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pp. 573

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26. The Civilian Components of Israel's Security Doctrine: The Evolution of Civil-Military Relations in the First Decade

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pp. 575-591

The newly independent State of Israel was faced with two critical challenges: 1. The establishment by the political leadership of a unifying authority over the various military forces which had been active during the Yishuv period. 2. The construction of a comprehensive national security doctrine which could provide answers to the needs of both basic existential and current security concerns. These concerns were particularly significant given the realities of the new state's geopolitical weakness...

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27. Utopia in Uniform

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pp. 593-613

The central question this chapter addresses is how and to what extent during the period 1948-1953 the armed forces were mobilized as part of a deep and broad concept of national rejuvenation. Any examination of nation- and state-building pertaining to the Israeli case must explore the formative role of the military and Ben-Gurion's leadership in relation to it. We shall examine the manner in which Ben-Gurion employed the virtues of military organization in...


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pp. 615

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28. An Uneasy Coexistence:Arabs and Jews in the First Decade of Statehood

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pp. 617-658

At the end of the first Arab-Israeli war, 160,000 Palestinians found themselves within the borders of the newly born Jewish state. Many of their fellow countrymen were either expelled or fled from Mandatory Palestine. Others fell under the Hashemite rule in the West Bank or were subjected to the Egyptian military regime in the Gaza Strip. Not much has been written about the attitude of Palestinians in Israel towards the political reality that befell them in the...

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29. Crime and Law Enforcement in the Israeli Arab Population under the Military Government, 1948-1966

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pp. 659-679

During the eighteen years of military government, the main and perhaps only contact of Arabs in Israel with the state was through the army, the police, and the criminal justice system. There was hardly any area in which the Arabs resident within the boundaries of the state were not dependent on the military or law enforcement authorities. Hence, it is somewhat surprising that although social control featured so centrally in the relations between the Arab population...


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pp. 681

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30. The Zionist Movement and the State of Israel,1948-1952: A Formation of Normal Interrelations*

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pp. 683-698

The establishment of the State of Israel was a turning point in the Jewish history. This profound change immediately gave rise to the question of "normality." Which meant: have the Jewish people become again a "normal" nation which has a national state connected with a Diaspora of co-religionists, as it was in the period of the "Second Temple," or as it exists in the present in the relations between the Americans of Irish and Italian origin and their mother...

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31. Philanthropy and Politics:Modes of Interaction between Israel and the Diaspora

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pp. 699-711

The radical change that took place in the status of the Yishuv on 15 May 1948 was not reflected immediately in the instruments dealing with Diaspora Jewry, or in their modus operandi. However, changes both in structure and in process were bound to occur as a result of the transition from community to sovereign state, though it might take years, or even decades, for them to become manifest. Once the transition had taken place, the symmetry that had prevailed...

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32. Defining Relationships: The Joint Distribution Committee and Israel, 1948-1950

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pp. 713-731

During 1948-1950 the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) was involved in the immigration of over 450,000 Jews from Europe and Moslem countries to Israel; this represents some 87 percent of the total immigration to Israel during this period. Since its establishment in 1914, the JDC had functioned as an aid and rehabilitation organization. In 1950, at the height of the mass immigration, the JDC terminated its involvement in immigration and reverted to its more...

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33. American Jewry and Israel: The First Decade and Its Implications for Today

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pp. 733-750

On 14 May 1948, the State of lsrael proclaimed its independence, and, according to one account, "the hills shouted for joy." Whether the hills actually shouted or not, American Jews did. As officials at the Jewish Agency building in New York unfurled the flag of the new nation, thousands of cheering people stopped traffic on East 68th Street in New York to literally dance the hora. Twenty blocks downtown a similar scene took place in front of the Zionist...


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pp. 751-757

INDEX [Includes Back Cover]

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pp. 759-779

E-ISBN-13: 9781438422329
E-ISBN-10: 1438422326
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791422595
Print-ISBN-10: 0791422593

Page Count: 779
Publication Year: 1995

Series Title: SUNY series in Israeli Studies