Libmonster ID: U.S.-1547

THE "RUSSIAN" FACE OF ISRAEL: FEATURES OF A SOCIAL PORTRAIT. Comp. and edited by M. Koenigstein. Moscow: Bridges of Culture; Jerusalem: Gesharim, 2007, 503 p.

The collective work devoted to various aspects of the life of the Russian-speaking community in Israel is the result of the work of many well-known Israeli Russian-speaking specialists (anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists, etc.) dealing with the problems of immigrants from the USSR/CIS. This is one of the differences between the book and other collective monographs that address this issue [see, for example: Shuval and Leshem, 1997; Gitelman et al., 2003; Lewin-Epstein et al., 1997; Krausz and Tulea, 1998.]. Most of them either did not involve Russian-speaking specialists, or were submitted to a limited extent.

However, literally in recent years, many books and articles about immigrants from the former USSR in Israel have appeared, written by specialists who are not only observers of the processes under study, but also their direct participants. This gives such works, as well as the reviewed book, a special depth, because "looking from the inside", through the prism of their own experience, is especially interesting for the Russian reader. At the end of the book, which contains information about the authors, we learn that the vast majority of them immigrated (repatriated) to Israel in the 1990s, during the so-called great Aliyah1 from the former USSR. This ideologeme is an integral part of the Zionist concept kibbutz galuyot (Hebrew, "gathering of the scattered"), Jews scattered all over the world, for whom Israel should become not just an ethnic refuge, but also a home. Not all former Soviet Jews were repatriated. I am referring to the fact that few of those who arrived in the 1990s shared Zionist beliefs and wanted to live in a Jewish State. They left (according to numerous opinion polls) because of the difficult socio-economic situation, lack of prospects, and lack of opportunities for self-realization in the former USSR countries [for details, see Nosenko, 2006]. In Israel, the fate of new arrivals has developed differently, but it can be stated that a very interesting scientific "enclave" of former Soviet citizens has formed in this country, which has become a full-fledged part of the Israeli scientific community.

Of course, it is impossible to analyze all the articles in a short review, and this is not necessary, since the book is available to an interested domestic reader. In general, it makes a successful attempt to "paint a group portrait" of the Russian-speaking community of Israel. There are different opinions about what it is. Yu offers his own vision of this problem. Stern (now, alas, deceased), whose essay opens the first section of the book - " Paradigms of the existence of the Russian-speaking community of Israel." I am inclined to agree with the author, who believes that this community unites all generations of Russian-speaking immigrants. Despite the differences between them, factors of origin, language and culture play a very important consolidating role. Perhaps the word "community" is not quite appropriate here, since these people are not always united in any real community structures. I would prefer the somewhat formal but more scientifically correct term "Russian-speaking population". Moreover, according to Yu. According to J. Stern, there are various groups within this community, including those that deliberately "distance themselves" from their compatriots (p.9). But it also does not break up into fellowships, representing, according to the statement It is a kind of association at the informal level.

The section "Problems of ethno-cultural and national identification" opens with a short article by M. Solodkina on the formation of ethnic, national and civil identity among Russian-speaking immigrants. The topic itself is extremely important, and not only for the State of Israel. It is also clear that the whole complex complex of problems associated with it could not be covered in a small note. Therefore, the author only outlined them with a" dotted line " in general, in accordance with the Zionist approach, according to which the existence of a Jew is not a problem.-

1 Aliya (Hebrew, "ascent") is a term used in Israel to denote not just immigration, but precisely repatriation, i.e. the return of Jews to their homeland.

page 201
Jews as a nation are possible only in a national Jewish state, and galutnoye2 awareness of Jewishness is based primarily on anti-Semitism. As a matter of fact, the article is devoted not so much to the formation of various identities as to the question of who was or was not considered a Jew at different stages of the existence of the State of Israel. Especially interesting are the data provided by the author on re-emigration, or yeride3, - This is an extremely painful problem for Israel. The author also touches on the complex issue of Israeli identity in the light of the crisis of the ideology of classical Zionism. M. Solodkina correctly notes that one of the cultural and identification problems faced by Russian - speaking immigrants of the last wave is the lack of cultural solidarity and alienation from almost all "sectors" of Israeli society (p. 57).

T. Friedgut's substantial article is devoted to the influence of Russian-speaking immigrants on Israeli identity, which is touched upon in M. Solodkina's essay, pointing out the deepening process of" fragmentation " of Israeli identity along with the complication of the socio-cultural structure of society. The author's observations on the influence of immigrant culture on various spheres of Israeli culture, such as holidays (New Year, May 9, March 8, etc.), in the context of changes in state ideology are extremely interesting. In the same context, as well as in the context of the conflict between secular and religious worldviews, the author examines the teaching of the basics of Judaism in schools. Unlike Yu. T. Friedgut considers Russian-speaking immigrants to be a diverse community, identifying different groups and subgroups in it. As an ethnographer, I am very interested in the author's study of the correlation between the ethnic and confessional "components" of the Russian-speaking Israeli community. Based on the results of opinion polls, Friedgut points out the extremely weak role of religion in general and Judaism in particular in the identity of former Soviet Jews4. The author's general conclusion that" being an Israeli "for Russian-speaking Jews in Israel means" in most cases condemning themselves to a certain degree of personal marginalization " (p.89) sounds disappointing, but apparently plausible.

In terms of the study of various identifications, the article Z deserves attention. Ilatova and Sh. Shamaya. The authors attempt to give a typology of different identities of" Russian " Israelis, and also touch on the most complex theoretical issues of acculturation, assimilation, integration, etc. The latter, however, is not very successful, since there is an extensive literature on each of these phenomena. As far as the identity of immigrants is concerned, the classification proposed by J. R. R. Tolkien seems to me to be more reasonable. Beri [Berry, 1997, p. 9-11]. In general, there are a lot of methodological inaccuracies in the work. For example, it is not clear who the authors consider to be Jews and therefore take into account in their sample (p. 125), etc., and when they talk about religion as one of the factors that determine different types of identification of immigrants, they only discuss Judaism, which is not true, etc.

The article by S. Lisitsa raises similar problems and also attempts to present its own typology of identities. The article is placed in the section "Peculiarities of social, ethnic and cultural adaptation of immigrants". The author, however, highlights the integration of former Soviet Jews in Israel rather as a national task facing the state. S. Lisitsa's conclusions are generally expected. So, it is clear that cultural and psychological integration (in the latter case, I would prefer the term "adaptation") occurs more slowly than social integration. The paper is an interesting example of a purely empirical sociological study, written, like many similar works, without references to the literature.

N. Ellias writes about the influence of the media on the integration of immigrants. Analyzing the popularity of various newspapers, radio and TV programs, the author seeks to destroy the persistent stereotype that Russian-language media in Israel contribute to the "ghettoization" of former Soviet Jews. In her opinion, they perform an important communication function for people who are not proficient in high Hebrew. But the preference given to Russian-language media,

2 Galut (Hebrew, "exile") - denoting the two-thousand-year period of Jewish residence in the diaspora; in the Zionist concept galut it has a sharply negative connotation.

3 Ierida (Hebrew: "descent, descent") - denoting the re-emigration or even the departure of Jews from Israel forever; in contrast to Aliyah in the Zionist concept, it is perceived as an extremely negative phenomenon.

4 This has been repeatedly written about [see also: E. Nosenko. Judaism, Orthodoxy or "secular religion": The choice of Russian Jews // Ab Imperio (in print).

page 202
As Ellias shows, it is not only a need for information in the native language, but also a "cultural habit" (p. 176). In other words, Russian-language media in Israel help preserve the cultural identity of newcomers and help develop new norms and values.

V. Moin, L. Krivosh, M. Koenigstein raise the topic of adaptation of mixed families, which is extremely interesting and relevant (although still insufficiently studied) for Israeli society. According to the authors, the attitude of Israelis to such families can be expressed in terms of attraction and repulsion. It is understood that the amendment to the Law on Return of 1970 provides for the right to repatriate a non-Jewish family member, and this is contrary to fundamental national and religious principles. At the same time, at the level of everyday consciousness, all Russian speakers-both Jews and non - Jews-are perceived by old-time Israelis as Russian and, consequently, strangers. Paradoxically, this supposed cultural homogeneity is not just a stereotype. Comparing the features of identification of mixed and mono-ethnic families, the researchers conclude that there are no serious cultural differences between the two.

On the problems of non-Jews, including the so-called non-Halakhic Jews5 (which account for about a third of all those who entered the country from the former USSR in 1991-2005). Konigstein. The problem of nationality as such in Israel now does not exist, since the corresponding column in the documents, although it continues to exist, but it is not necessary to fill it out. However, such a record is available in personal files that are stored in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. As M. Koenigstein shows, this situation leads in some cases to real discrimination of those citizens who are not considered Jews. I fully agree with the author's thesis that anti-Semitism was not among the significant factors that "pushed" Jews out of the former USSR, but I cannot agree that for those who "were formed in a non-Jewish environment, anti-Semitism was a little-known area of Soviet reality" (pp. 222-223). In general, the article raises a lot of problems that could well be the subject of research in a series of articles or a book. This gives the overall interesting work an overview and sometimes somewhat superficial character.

A new study by M. Elenevskaya and L. Fialkova, authors of what I consider to be the best book on "Russian" Israel [Elenevskaya and Fialkova, 2005], is devoted to the ideas of Russian-speaking immigrants about legal proceedings, the court, justice, and similar concepts. Based on the oral histories of the newcomers, the authors made a brilliant analysis of the immigrant "judicial experience" in the country. The article is an interesting read, which, unfortunately, is far from an ordinary phenomenon in scientific discourse. Much of these oral narratives - the ethnic labeling of the outsider; the idea of patronage by one's own or, on the contrary, others, a whole range of other stereotypes and metaphors - according to the authors, find direct parallels in Russian culture. The painfully familiar feeling of defenselessness and lack of faith in government assistance, which the authors write about, is rooted not only in Russian culture. Moreover, this attitude to the authorities and the court is also characteristic of the poorest strata of other societies, which is noticed by many foreign researchers. For former Soviet immigrants, this is also a consequence of the experience of a long existence in the USSR, where arbitrariness prevailed over the law, and in our time- "life according to concepts".

In the section "Problems of social and political dynamics of the Russian-speaking community", my attention was drawn to an article by a professional economist B. Dubson, dedicated to the social and professional mobility of former Soviet emigrants. Drawing on extensive material, the author shows that the usual U-shaped model of social and professional integration of immigrants operating in various societies in Israel "does not work"in the case of Russian speakers. In other words, the situation when immigrants with a high level of education and qualifications are forced to accept low-prestige and low-paid jobs for a while, but then partially or sometimes completely restore their social status is not typical for Israel.-

5 Halakha is a normative law in Judaism, according to which a person born to a Jewish mother or practicing Judaism is considered a Jew; a person whose father is Jewish is not considered one. However, according to Israel's Law of Return, non-Halakhic Jews are eligible for repatriation to Israel and Israeli citizenship.

page 203
The initial integration of immigrants into Israeli society takes an average of 8-10 years. Therefore, his conclusion that the opportunity for a doctor, engineer, or researcher who has worked as a security guard or nurse for 10 years to regain their professional and social status is equal to the chance of a big lottery win seems more than natural. Even the partial change of generations that is taking place before our eyes does not change the situation. This resulted in the re-emigration of some Russian speakers to the countries of origin or their immigration to other countries, where they integrate more successfully.

Such situations, among other things, are associated with the crisis of education, which is no longer one of the priorities of society, with the loss of book culture and general literacy. A fairly extensive literature is devoted to these crisis phenomena in Israeli society. One of them - the system of higher education in Israel and the role of" Russian " immigrants in it-is devoted to a small, but interesting and informative essay written by S. Bolotin-Chachashvili, Y. Shavit and Kh. Ayalon. The authors draw attention to the peculiarities of the distribution of immigrant students and native Israelis-Jews and Arabs-in higher educational institutions of the country. The general conclusion of the article is also not very optimistic and partly echoes the forecasts of B. Dubson: "Despite the reforms of the higher education system carried out in the 1990s, as well as additional investments designed to increase the enrollment of immigrants from the USSR/CIS to universities, most of them have not managed to find their place in the higher education system education of Israel" (pp. 337-338).

The section "The second generation of the Russian-speaking community of Israel" is especially interesting for those who are interested in the problems of social psychology of adolescents. This topic has long attracted the attention of Israeli specialists. All three articles in this section (E. Feldman, A. Sumbaeva, and M. Niznik) introduce the reader to one degree or another to the peculiarities of adaptation, socialization, and identification of "Russian" adolescents.

One of the most interesting is the final section- "Russian-speaking community in the International development contest". It opens with an article by L. Remennik devoted to such an ambiguous and controversial topic as the formation of a transnational Jewish community and identification6 Unlike many authors who write about transnationalism and focus on its economic and political "components", L. Remennik focuses on its socio-cultural aspects. She points out that although most transnational communities are formed along ethnic lines, the ethnocultural diversity of former Soviet Jews has created prerequisites for their marginalization in Israeli society, especially in the cultural sphere. But the weak connection with the host society is compensated by closer contacts with former compatriots in different countries of the world, contributing to the creation of a new hybrid identity. This conclusion seems to me indisputable, since it is difficult to verify how widespread this hybrid identity and the so-called transnational identity are, not to mention that the very definition of Jewish transnational identity needs further study.

A more convincing example of the formation of a very specific transnational community of scientists from the CIS countries is presented in the article by A. Epstein. The author touches on a number of very interesting and controversial issues. In particular, this is the question of the relationship between the concepts of "homeland" and" diaspora " for the Jewish people (I note that this is not a topic for an article, but for a monograph) in general and for former Soviet scientists in the humanities in particular. Pointing out the existence of a transnational Russian-speaking scientific community (in my opinion, this fact is much more obvious than the elusive transnational Russian-Jewish personality in general), A. Epstein quite rightly draws attention to a number of problems of this community. At the same time, it is difficult to agree with his statement that Israel has become a spiritual center of attraction for immigrants from the USSR/CIS working in the field of science and culture. Moreover, the situation seems to me more complex and ambiguous: there are several centers of such attraction that are located in the United States, Europe, and Israel itself. It is precisely this multipolarity, I think, that makes up the features of the transnational community of Russian-speaking scientists.

6 L. Remennick has devoted a number of papers to this problem, including the last section of her recently published book [Remennick, 2007].

page 204
B. Morozov's work "falls out" of this "block" of articles. Actually, this is the only article in the collection that tells about the history of emigration of Jews from Russia/ USSR/CIS during the XX century. and the changing attitude of the authorities to it, depending on the foreign policy context. Other articles, as I have already said, are devoted to the problems of the "big aliyah". Other waves of "Russian" immigration are hardly considered in the collection. As a result, the book, strictly speaking, presents not the" social portrait "of" Russian Israel", but its last, though most significant"slice". However, this is not only justified by the personal experience of the authors and their scientific interests, but also explained by the size of this collective work, which cannot contain everything.

Of course, as in any collective monograph, there are some works that seem to me weaker than others. Unfortunately, they include both works of the first section that opens the book - "Paradigms of the existence of the Russian-speaking community of Israel", the very title of which seems to me not very good. At the same time, if the article contains Yu. Stern modestly emphasizes that the author is not a professional ethnographer or sociologist, yet many important issues are addressed in general terms. This journalistic rather than scientific article includes a number of recommendations on community "building" made by him as a member of the Knesset. I was frankly disappointed by the article of D. Radyshevsky, whom Russian readers probably remember from his newspaper publications and speeches. It is an example of very controversial journalism: I simply cannot imagine arguments about the "Mission of the Russian Aliyah" on the pages of a Western academic publication, and in Russia such "discourses" about the "special way"," messianically charged ethnic groups", etc.usually come across on the pages of works of a nationalistic orientation.

As an ethnographer, I was very curious to get acquainted with A. Eterman's "ethnographic notes", although his declaration that the sociological study of the Russian-speaking community in Israel is inconvenient and very voluminous, that there are many sociological works on this topic, including in the collection itself, seemed at least strange. Long excerpts from K. Levi-Strauss and discussions about several diverse issues (entrepreneurs focused on the Russian economy, cultural figures focused on the Russian audience, pension provision for Russian-speaking immigrants, etc.) without references to the work of colleagues and without the results of their own research, in my opinion, have little in common with ethnography.

However, most of the monograph's articles are written in a highly professional manner. For example, a good article by V. Khanin on the electoral behavior of Russian-speaking immigrants in the 1990s and early 2000s is a topic to which the author has devoted many works.

Unfortunately, there are no indexes and a list of abbreviations in the collection, and unfortunately, there is often a "discrepancy"in the reference device. Such flaws reduce the overall good impression of the book. Nevertheless, this is a very interesting, necessary and useful work - one of the first to allow the Russian reader to "look in the face" of "Russian Israel".

list of literature

Elenevskaya M., Fialkova L. Russian street in a Jewish country. A study of the folklore of emigrants of the 1990s in Israel. Ch. 1-2. M. Miklukho-Maklay Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 2005.

Nosenko E. Judaism, Orthodoxy or "secular religion": the choice of Russian Jews // Ab Imperio (in print).

Nosenko E. " Did they want to leave? Why do they stay?" Jewish emigration from Russia at the turn of the XX-XXI centuries and Jewish self-identification among descendants of mixed marriages // Proceedings of the International Conference " Jewish Emigration from Russia (1881-2005)". Moscow, December 10 - 12, 2006. Moscow, 2007.

Berry John W. Immigration, Acculturation and Adaptation // Applied Psychology: International Review. 1997.46(1).

Gitelman, Zvi et al. (eds). Jewish Life After the USSR. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.

Krausz Ernest and Tulea Gita (eds) Jewish Survival: The Identity Problem at the Close of the 20 Century. New Brunswick (N.J.) - London: Transaction, 1998.

Lewin-Epstein N. et al. (eds). Russian Jews on Three Continents: Migration and Resettlement. London: Frank Cass, 1997.

Remennick L. Russian Jews on Three Continents. Identity, Integration and Conflict. Transaction Publishers. New Brunswick London, 2007.

Shuval J.T., Leshem E. (eds). Immigration to Israel: Sociological Perspectives. Studies of Israeli Society. Vol. VIII. New Brunswick: Transaction, 1997.


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