Israel


Figure 1.--Most Isrealis have parents or grand parents born in Europe. This portait was taken in the 1890s, but we are not yet sure in what country it was taken. The child wears a hair now with bangs and a rather short hair cut. He appears to be wearing kneepants and long stockings. This almost certainly is a boy. We doubt if a girl would have worn kneepnts. In addition, tricycles were more common for boys than girls.

We see Isreali boys wearing a wide range of outfits. The political changes make it complicated to assess clothing styles. They affected the garments worn. The Jewish population was realtively small before the Zionist movement began to promote Jewish emigration during the late-19th century. Palestine at the time was a province of the Ottoman Empire. We do not know how Jewish boys dressed during this period. The Jewish immigrants to Palestine came mostly from Europe and thus their clothing would have reflected the popular styles in the countries from which they came. We see portraits taken in Palestine that are indistinguishable from European portraits. The only way we can tell is these wee taken in Palestine is if they are indentified. We note sailor suits and other popular European styles. Over time as the number of Jews increased and children were born in Palestine, clothing more in keeping with the local condotions developed. The Britis seized Palestine during World war I which added another fashion influence. Short pants were very common reflecting both European styles and the warm climate.

Historical Background

By the 19th century there were very few Jews living in what is now Israel. Continuing anti-semitism in Europe encouraged the growth of the Zionist movement in Europe and small numbers of Jews began to emmigrate to. Such movements, however, were limited by the Turkish control of the area. After World War I, the area became the Bitish protectorate of Palestine and Jewish emmigration from Europe increased. Thius most of the Isreali population is of European ancestry. The Europeamn emmigration casused friction with the existing Palestinian population. This led to substantial Arab support for the NAZIs in World War II. Following World War II, the British withdrew from their mandate of Palestine, and the UN partitioned the area into Arab and Jewish states, an arrangement rejected by the Arabs. Subsequently, the Israelis defeated the Arabs in a series of wars without ending the deep tensions between the two sides. The territories occupied by Israel since the 1967 war are not included in the Israel country profile, unless otherwise noted. In keeping with the framework established at the Madrid Conference in October 1991, bilateral negotiations are being conducted between Israel and Palestinian representatives (from the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip) and Israel and Syria, to achieve a permanent settlement. On April 25, 1982, Israel withdrew from the Sinai pursuant to the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. Outstanding territorial and other disputes with Jordan were resolved in the October 26, 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace. On May 25, 2000, Israel withdrew unilaterally from southern Lebanon, which it had occupied since 1982.

Economy

Israel is set in the Levant surrounded by Arab countries. These include fbulouly wealthy oil countries and desperately poor non-oil countries. There are no highly sucessful Arab countries inless they have oil. Israel in sharp contrast has forged a vibrant economy which generates European-level living standards without oil. Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir mockingly lamented that Moses led the children of Israel for 40 years of wandering in the desert until he found the only place in the Middle East where there wasn’t any oil. Prime Minister Netanyahu explains that it was a blessing in desguise in that it forced th Jews to think. Of course there are Arab states without oil, but they have achieved little success economically an even those with oil have achieved little economically besides selling their oil. Israel is in contrast, a vibrant democratic and free-market bastion in the chaotic and povery stricken Middle East. Israel has since its foundation evolved it economy into one of the most successful free market economy in the worlkd, despite its small size and hostile econpmy. This is not presisly what was expected by the country's. Many of the eearly Zionist settlers wee farmers which fonded agricultural kibutzes. Over time the two most important elements in the Zionit movement were religious Jews and socialists. Farmers, relgious people, and socialists are a rather strange combination to found an industrial and scintific powerhouse. But as Netanyahu explained, the Jews were forced to think on their feet. And while the kibbutes behan as agicultural cooperatives, they saw to the eucation of the children, preparing for the economic future. And today many kibbutzes are no longer largely agicultural, but deeply embedded in the modern economy. Religious Jews ficused on education, also prepring their childen for the future. Israel's first leaders were socilists, but it grdully becamer clear to the Israwki people that socialism was not going to generate wealth. The early yers of Israel resylted in military, but not economic success. But after three decades of failed socialist ecomnomics Israel under emmense pressure from Arab countries began to give up the cherished socialist dream and introduced market reforms. Israeli leaders gradually turned to free market capitalism. Israel's modern high-tech indiutial economy is the result. The principles of economic freedom is today thoroughly entrenched. It is a small, open economy. Business operates in a competitive environment and well-established rule of law. Israel does not ranl as high as the Asian Tiger on a economic freedom score, although this has been increasing with freedom market reforms. This is because there is a lingering attachment to socialism and the socialists are one of the two major political parties.

Chronology

Most Isrealis are related to parents or grandparents and now great-gradparents born outside Israel. The greatest number have come from Middle-Eastern countries as a result of the Diapora begun un Roman times. Only slightly fewer hve come from Europe. Some have come from America, but these are almost entirely Jews of European origins. We have not been ale to find any images of Jewish boys before the Zionist sponsored emigration from Europe. The political changes make it complicated to assess clothing styles. They affected the garments worn. The Jewish population was realtively small before the Zionist movement began to promote Jewish emigration during the late-19th century. Palestine at the time was a province of the Ottoman Empire. We do not know how Jewish boys dressed during this period. The initial Jewish immigrants to Palestine came mostly from Europe and thus their clothing would have reflected the popular styles in the countries from which they came. We see portraits taken in Palestine that are indistinguishable from European portraits. The only way we can tell is these wee taken in Palestine is if they are indentified. We note sailor suits and other popular European styles. Conditions were at first very primitive. Over time as the number of Jews increased and children were born in Palestine, clothing more in keeping with the local conditions developed. The British seized Palestine during World war I which added another fashion influence. Short pants were very common reflecting both European styles and the warm climate. With the Undependence of Israel, more Jews began arriving from Middle Eastern countries. In some case such as Egypt, they were expelled and their property confiscated. Since the 1970s, Isreali boys have adopted the same popular styles worn in the United States and Europe. While large numbers of immigrants cane from the Middke East, European cultural patterns seem to have become widely adopted by most Isrealis.

Garments

We see Isreali boys wearing a wide range of outfits. We note many of the same styles popular in Europe which was where most of the Jewish immigrants came. We see boys wearing sailor suits and other popular styles. Many of the immigrant were from northern Europe with very cold climates. Thus the garments worn tended to change the longer the familiy lived in Israel. We see boys commonly wearing open-collar shirts. Garments like long stockings became less common. Boys after World war I were commonly wore short pants, often with ankle socks when not dressing up. Formal styles seem less popular than in Europe. Long pants became more common after the 1960s.

Ethnicity

Ethnicity is a fascinating topic as concerns Israel. It involves primarily an assessment of Jewish eyhnicity, lthough Id\srael has a substantial population of non-Jew. Jews were a Semetic people of the Levant. Their origins is a matter of considerable historical debate and may have been largely hidden by Biblical texts. There were initially 12 tribes of Israel. Most have been lost to history, And Large numbers of Jews were expelled by the Romans and dispersed to various corners of the Empire. Thus with the Zionist project returness included an ethnic admixture from the various countries where they were dispersed--the Diapora. Most Jews of European origin are Ashkenazi Jews which means largely Eastern Europe. The other major group of Jews are Mizrahi Jews from Middle Eastern countries. This includes Jews of Sephardic origins who found rfuge in Middke Eastern countries after bing expelled from Spain and Portugal. There is a small gtoup of Beta (Ethiopian) Jews. In addition to the Jews there is a wide range religious minorities which commonly have destinctive ethnic origins. Israel is a democratic nation with strong protection fir indivisual rights andthe free practice of religon. Thus non-Jewish minorities have flourished in the country and is a are place in the Muiddle East where minorities are free to safely practice their religuious faiths. The larget ethnic minority in Israel are Palistinin Arabs who are mostly Muslim, but include some Christians. Other groups include Armenians, Assyrians, Bedouins, Copts, Druze, and others. Some of these groups are quite small. One particulrly interesting group, albeit now very small, are the Samaritans.

Activities

We do not yet have much information on boys' activities in Palestine and Israel. Our vIsreali archive is still limited. A major component of Jewish settlement in Palestine was agricultural kibutzes. Thus many Jewish children were involved with agicultural work. The most important activity is of course, as in most other countries, school. Jews in Palestine laid the foundation for a fine modern public education system. Religion is also very important in Israel, the only Jewish country. Jews are almosdt unique among religious groups in that Jewish is boyj an ethnic and religious term. This of course was a major debate in the early Jesus movement as to wether converts should be sought asmong the gentiles, essentially whether Judaism should remain an ethnic religion. Not all Isrealis are Jews and even among Jews, there are both religious and secular Jews. There is also a mostly Muslim Palestinian minority as well as amall number of Christians. Many of the important Israeli holidays are Jewish holidays. Even Independence Day has a Jewish dimension to it because it created a Jewish state. We do not know much about popular games and sports. We also notice a variety of different Israeli youth groups. As in most other countries. soccer is the most popular sport.

Religion


Institutions

We have begun to develop some information on Isreali institutions that touch on the lives of childten. The institution for which Israel is most known is the kibbutz, agricultural cooperatives. The first Zionist institutions in what is modern Isreal us the Kibbut Movement. Jewish kibbutzes were founded in one of the poorest and most backward regions of the Ottoman Empire--Palestine. And they litteraly made the desert bloom. Modern kibbutzes are no longer exclusively agricultural opeation, but are now deply imbedded in Israel's modern eonomy. Zionist thinkers pursued many different approaches, both religious and secular and within those basic trends a wide range of ideas. Jews in many countries were primarily urban. Jews like most ancient people as is clear from the Bible were primary darmers and hearders. Medieval laws, however, restricted in both the Islamic world and Christian Europe restricted (commonly prohibited) Jews from purchasing land. Thus by modern times, Jews mostly lived in towns and villages. A strong thread which developed in Zionism, influenced often by Socialist more than Jewish religious roots, was a return to the land. Various authotrs conceived of a range of ideological constructs. One important Zionist thinker was Ber Borochov who was influenced by Moses Hess. Borochov saw Zionism as the opportunity to created a society that would be fundamentally an "inverted pyramid". He saw the "proletariat" (both Jewish and Arab) as the foundation of society. A. D. Gordon discussed similar concepts. He seems to have been more influenced by romantic volkisch nationalist concepts rather than Socialism. Gordon wanted a society based on a rural Jewish peasantry. The concept of the kibbutz flowed from these and other ofen idealistic Zionist writers. The first kibbutz was Deganiah--some times reffered to as the mother of kibbutzim. It was founded on the the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee (1909). This was the same year that other Zionist settlers founded the city of Tel Aviv. Another institution is orphanages. Here we have much less information than the well-studdied kibbutzes. The world's oldest continuously running Jewish Orphanage, Zion Blumenthal, was founded in 1900. The orphanage explains it mission, "The Zion Orphanage is dedicated to providing disadvantaged and homeless youth in Israel with the warmth, care and the education needed to develop into responsible adults and productive members of society." Zio Blumenthl is of course is not the oldest Jewish orphanage. Quite a few existed in Europe, especially Eastern Europe. They were desstroyed in the NAZI holocaust and most of the children with them. Children were the most vulnerable of all the NAZI victims, but thousands managed to survive. This there was a special need for orphanages, especially once the United Nations partitioned Palestine and the orphaned survivors should reach Israel.

Literature

We do not yet have much information on Israeli children's literature. Of course only since Israel became a state (1848) could large numbers f Jewish people be taught to use Hebrew as their native language and work and write in it. Until Israel was established a great deal of Jewish literature was written in Yidish. We do note a charming little illustrated book published in 1962--The Sheikh's Son by Margalit Banai. The photographs wre taken by Shlomo Soriano. It is the two Israeli boys, a Jewish and a Muslim Bedouin boy. The book features many photographs of the life in the Bedouin people. It was published by Karni publishers, Tel Aviv. The book is of interest because of the sensative depiction of Arabs, in this case Bedouins. We notice nothing like this in the Arab countries surrounding Israel or actually wider Muslim world. Rather we see nothing published other than to vilify Israel and Jews in general. We would be intereted in information on Muslim children's books and if they know of any similr childrens' books.

Individuals

We do not yet have much information on individual Isreli boys. We would be interested in receiving any accounts that readers might wish to send along describing thir boyhood expoeriences. We note a photographic book by Francis Maziere about an Isreali boy named Amiram. The book was Amiram: le petit Israélien (France, 1969). The book describes in text and photographs the everyday life of a small Israelian boy.








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Created: February 23, 2002
Last updated: 5:40 AM 12/29/2015