Israel Through “Russian” Eyes: Identities and Cultures / Ed. E. Nosenko). Moscow: Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Natalis Press, 2008 (in Russian)

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Editor: Elena Nosenko
Publisher: Moscow: Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Natalis Press
Year: 2008
Pages: 470
ISBN 978-5-8062-0289-6 / 9785806202896
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Alek Epstein
Barukh Kimmering and His Intellectual Heritage

The article is dedicated to the famous Israel’s scholar Barukh Kimmerling and his role in the development of social sciences in Israel. Books and articles by Kimmerling published both in Hebrew and English are analysed in the context of the sociological  research in Israel.

Alexander Kriukov
Hebrew as Social and Linguistic Phenomenon Reflecting Political Life in Israel of 1960-1990.

The article deals with the unique of the Hebrew language as social and linguistic phenomenon which expressively and in a very adequate way reflects the essence and dramatic changes in a very complicated for the outside view dominants and trends in political life in Israel of 1960-1990. The given article is probably the first attempt in present Russian studies of Israel to implement the sociolinguistic approach  in the course of policy researches.

Maria Yelenevskaya
Humor and Violence: Joke Lore of Immigrants from the Countries of the Former Soviet Union to Israel

The purpose of this essay is to show how fear and anxiety are translated into humor. It analyzes the reaction of the Russian-language media in Israel to the Arab-Israeli conflict and in particular to the escalation of violence during Intifada Al-Aqsa. Humorous texts targeting conflict and terrorism combine various features of political, ethnocentric and black humor. Most of the humorous texts analyzed in the paper can be classified as the humor of opposition. It attempts to help members of the community to create the feeling of superiority over the “enemy”. In addition, it is used as a vehicle of integration: by juxtaposing the Arab other and Israelis, immigrants reduce the distance that still separates us, immigrants from them, veteran Israelis.

Alek Epstein, Sonia Mikhaeli, Nina Kheimets
Preserving Jewish majority: Some perspectives of Israeli national doctrine concerning prevention of emigration

The authors consider complex problems of preserving Jewish majority in the State of Israel. The authors trace the transformation of Zionist ideology and forming Israeli identity. They also study the correlation between the immigration (aliyah) and emigration (yeridah) and consequences of yeridah for Israel.

Nina Semenchenko
Immigration of 1948-1953 and its impact on Israel’s culture

After the proclamation of Israeli independence, the leadership of the new state had to tackle simultaneously military defensive, financial, economic and many other problems. Along with this, one of the main tasks Israel faced was the stepping up of the process of immigration and accommodation of the newcomers. The leadership of the country and the WZO presumed that the process of integration of immigrants would proceed according to the “meltpot” conception.

However, contrary to all plans and expectations, Israel was confronted by a mass immigration wave that increased the number of the country’s population twofold. These were members of Jewish communities from many countries, which brought along diverse cultural heritage with them. It was that mass immigration, its numbers, human composition and the ways of its absorption that shaped the sociocultural and political character of the state for years to come. The article deals with only a part of the difficulties the immigrants at first had to face. However, it was these that affected the ways of their integration into Israeli society.

Tatiana Nosenko
Yerushalaim against Al Kuds:Holy Places in the National Self-Consciousness of Israelies and Palestinians

The author tries to undertake a comparative study of the religious component in the national self-consciousness of Israelis and Palestinians. For the years of struggle between the two peoples the religious symbols have acquired a political meaning, they have become an inalienable part of the national self-consciousness of Israelis and Palestinians, one of  the signs in the collective self-identification of both peoples. The increasing role of the religious factor in the Israeli-Palestinian  conflict complicates the perspectives of its settlement, particularly the resolution of the problem of Jerusalem.

Dmitri Sanoyan
Armenian community of Jerusalem in the 20-th century (Armenians of Jerusalem between the past & the future)

The Christian population in Jerusalem is characterized by it’s unusal heterogeneity. Of particular interest are the Armenians, ethno-religious community who contribute to the cosmopolitan flavour of the city. This article is an attempt to survey the evolution of the Armenian secular community as a minority within a minority in Jerusalem under foreign rule since 1908.

Particular attention is paid to the relationships between Armenians and Arabs. The author also consides the role of Armenian diaspora of Syria and Palestine in the consolidation mechanism and integration od the Armenians of Jerusalem.

Larissa Remennick
Cultural Affiliation and Lifestyle of Russian-Speaking Israelis: A Sociological View

In this brief essay I outline the key features of the collective social portrait of almost one million immigrants, who moved from the FSU to Israel after 1989. I start from the problems of their socio-economic integration into Israeli labor market, which strongly influenced every other aspect of their life and attitudes towards the host country. I discussnext the trend for cultural and social self-exclusion from the Israeli mainstream that was a strategy of choice for many Russian Israelis. I then consider the role of political and civic organizations establshed by Russian immigrants in their community life and the impact on the larger Israeli society. Finally, I introduce the topic of transnationalism in the lifestyle of Russian Israelis, i.e. social, cultural and economic participation in the life of their former homelands and the involvement with other former Soviets living in the West. In conclusion I reflect on the possible future trends in the life of Russian-speaking community in Israel.

Zvi Gitelman
Jews and Non-Jews in and from the Former Soviet Union

The complexities of Jewish identity will increase geometrically as intermarriage proceeds apace. In this essay I address the following issues:

1) What are the consequences for Jewish communal reconstruction in the Former Soviet Union of a large non-Jewish presence among partly and wholly Jewish families?

2) What difference, if any, does the presence of large numbers of non-Jews among the immigrants make for their reception and resettlement in the United States and Germany?

3) What are the implications for Israel of the presence of so many non-Jews among the approximately 20 percent of the Jewish population who are immigrants from the FSU? The increasing proportion of non-Jews among immigrants from the FSU challenges the Israeli state to define not only their status, but its own character as a “Jewish state.” So far, the Israeli state and society have avoided the issue. The larger issue is the very nature of Israel as a civic or ethnic state. How can these issues be dealt with? The essay explores is a wide spectrum of possibilities from keeping the boundaries of Jewry as they have been traditionally, to dropping all external, objective criteria for admission to the Jewish people.

Moshe Kenigstein
Transformation of ethnic, cultural and national identification non-Jewish immigrants in Israel

The article presents the results of the research into the problems of gentile immigrants, who came to Israel in 90-s from the USSR/CIS. Based on statistic data and results of researches several subjects are being analysed – such as reasons and motives of Russian-speaking non-Jewish immigration, their civil, ethnic and national status in Israel, attitude of the State and the society towards the gentiles. Using the material from multiple interviews and surveys the author analyses the problems of ethnic, cultural and national identification of non –Jews immigrants and the peculiarity of the process of their adaptation and integration in the society.

Vladimir (Zeev) Khanin
“All of us are from Russia”^ Developing ‘Russian Jewish’ politics in the State of Israel

The author focuces on making politics by the former Soviet émigrés in Israel – conditions and norms for their successful political career. He also consider transformation of the ‘Russian’ politics in Israel in early 21st c. and its impact on the Israeli society.

Sabina Lissitsa, Yohanan Peres
Criteria of Integration: the Case of “Russian” Immigrants in Israel

The research explored how immigrants and Israelis defined the criteria of integration: what are the requirements a Russian immigrant has to fulfill to be accepted as a full-fledged member of Israeli society? These requirements as expressed by both populations are the criteria of integration. The immigrants attached importance to the spheres that enabled them cultural and social continuity, while the Israelis underscored spheres demanding change on the part of the immigrants

Narspy (Nataly) Zilberg
Symbolic Community: The Secular Cultural Codes and Rituals of “Russian” Immigrants in Israel: The Cross-Cultural Dialogue between Jews from the former Soviet Union and Israeli Society

The goal of this article is to examine the culture and secular way of life of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union living in Israel. The historic consciousness and cultural traditions of these Jews were formed in the absence of the traditional religious and cultural markers of Jewishness. These immigrants demonstrate an alternative approach to Jewish identity in search of survival. The author focuses on innovations in rituals of non-religious Jews, with special attention to a re-examination of historic memories and heritage, a “reinvention” of traditions and customs.

Nelly Ellias, Natalia Khvorostianoff
An old home on the new street? Local cultural institutions of the “Russian” street of Israel 

The present study sheds light on the local cultural expressions characteristic of the Russian-speaking community in Israel. For this purpose, we analyzed three main cultural institutions established by the immigrants from the FSU in Beer-Sheva (a city located in Southern periphery of Israel): shows and concerts targeting immigrant audiences, Russian libraries and book stores. The study was conducted during 2006 and it was based on three complementing methods: interviews with official representatives of Beer-Sheva municipality and with Russian cultural entrepreneurs; participant observations in each of the selected institutions; and in-depth interviews with Russian-speaking immigrants participating in the cultural activities under study.

The study discovered a rich cultural life taking place in “Russian” Beer-Sheva, including numerous concerts of immigrant artists, as well as shows imported from the FSU, and a well-developed network of Russian libraries and book stores. The initiative for their establishment usually comes from immigrant entrepreneurs and volunteers, without any financial support from the official institutions. All of these organizations orient themselves toward the diverse sectors of Russian immigrant population and are not limited to the exclusive cultural activity of the intellectual elite. Moreover, although we can perceive these institutions as a “cultural import” aimed to address Russian immigrants’ feelings of nostalgia, the findings reveal that they have acquired a new meaning in Israel, since they serve as centers for intra-communal communication and fulfill many new cultural needs, assisting their audiences to overcome many difficulties stemming from migration and resettlement.

Helena Rimon
The Image of the Other in the Hebrew Literature of the 20th century: the jewish lucrimax

Analyzing works of the Hebrew prose fiction of the 20th century, written in the diaspora, as well as in Israel, the author of the article argues that the image of other (the Ukrainian, the Arab) in the Hebrew literature has served as  reflection and embodiment of a inferiority complex (which is called lucrimax, using the term suggested by Alexander Etlkind). This image of the other is connected to a special chronotop of openness which is a metaphor of an authentic being as opposed to non-authenticity of the Jew, who deeply suffers from this feeling of falseness and lack of the roots.

Michael Weisskopf
The Litlle Red Dress’: a Heroic Female  in Anti-Zionist Prose of 1930s (‘The Burned Land’ by Mark Egart)

The article is devoted to a novel by Mark Egart (Boguslavskij) “Opalennaja zemlia”(“The Burned Land”) based on the author’s impressions of several years he spent in Palestine in early twenties. The book was  written  after his return to Soviet Russia: its Volume I (1933-1934) combines Zionist and Anti-Zionist motifs, while Volume II (1937) sounds violently Anti-Zionist. This evolution reflects political  change: the Soviets competing for influence in the East with the Nazi Germany dropped support for the Zionist Left  in favour of  a pro-Arab position.

The article examines the central female image of the novel centering on the mythological structures connecting the book with classic and modern traditions. Christian elements (prompted by the tradition of Christian Judeophobia) are examined, as well as the clichés of Soviet anti-colonial literature of the twenties the author draws upon.

Olga Gershenson, Dale Hudson.
In love, willingly: Immigration, gender, cinema.

This article analyzes the character of the “new Russian immigrant” in two Israeli films, Saint Clara (1995) and Yana’s Friends (1999). We consider these films within the context of the Zionist immigration policy and politics of cinematic representations in Israel. Both films portray stories of immigration via the conventions of romantic comedy, positing the assimilation of female Russian immigrants through romance with Israeli men. This formula draws on the earlier local genre of ethnic comedy bourekas—and also departs from it. Our analysis then seeks to situate Saint Clara and Yana’s Friends vis-à-vis Israeli-Zionist discourse—and genre. We argue that both Saint Clara and Yana’s Friends pose partial challenges to the Israeli-Zionist ideology of immigration. Although Yana’s Friends differs significantly from Saint Clara in the identity of its filmmakers, its style, language use, and its “accent,” the political-ideological message of assimilation is not substantially different in the two films. The intermarriage formula, adapted from the bourekas film as a means to resolve intra-ethnic conflict, continues in the transformed mode of an ethnic, even “accented” comedy about Russian immigrants. By exploring these new characters, we contribute to the study of the politics of Israeli cinematic representations of ethnicity, pioneered by Ella Shohat, and continued by Yosefa Loshitzky and Nurith Gertz.

Anna Wexler Katsnelson
Zionist-Realist? The Cinematographic Displacements of Mikhail Kalik

This essay focuses on the cinematographic legacy of the dissident filmmaker Mikhail Kalik.  Venturing into little-studied immigrant cinema, contextualizing its ideological and social conditions, I argue that Kalik’s immigration and cinematic production constituted a story of misdirected migratory expectations and discursive belatedness.

Anna Ronell
‘Russian’ immigration in Israel in the mirror of Dina Rubina’s oeuvres

Russian-language  Israeli fiction  is a  new and  exciting cultural phenomenon that includes numerous artists, writers, and journalists. Dina Rubina’s work  introduces the reading public to  the dispersed community of Russian Jews who once  again find themselves torn between Israel and the  Diaspora. Reflecting the developments of the Russian-Israeli sensibilities, her novels and short stories emerge as a literary window
into this yet unexplored world.The essay will provide an overview of Dina Rubina’s portrayals of Russian-language immigrant community, the evolution of its culture, its relationship with Russia they left behind. Thus the essay will also deal with Rubina’s attempts to articulate the multi-faceted encounter between the Russian alyiah and other sectors of Israeli society as well as to flesh out historical processes that accompany the struggle to adapt to new social conditions.  The essay will address such issues as culturalt hybridity, literary fusion, and linguistic experimentation, as well as cultural gaps that exist between various populations in Israel.  In combination, the three themes of theater, autobiography, and  language which form  the focus of  this article make Rubina’s  works uniquely enjoyable. They are  the hallmarks of her writing which is itself  a paramount example of the flourishing Russian-Israeli culture.


  • Elena Nosenko (Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences).
    Introduction Download (Doc)
  • Alek Epstein (Open University of Israel).
    Barukh Kimmering and His Intellectual Heritage
  • Patterns of Israeli Identities: languages, communities, religions
    • Alexander Kriukov (Institute for Research of Asia and Africa, Moscow State University).
      Hebrew as a Social and Linguistic Phenomenon Reflected in the Political Life in Israel (1960-1990)
    • Maria Yelenevskaya (Department of Humanities and Arts of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology).
      Humor and Violence: Joke Lore of Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union to Israel
    • Alek Epstein (Open University of Israel), Sonia Mikhaeli (Ministry of Absorption of Israel), Nina Kheimets (Israeli Higher Education Institutions).
  • Preserving a Jewish Majority: Perspectives on Israeli National Doctrine Concerning Emigration
    • Nina Semenchenko (Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences).
      The Immigration of 1948-1953 and Its Impact on Israel’s Culture
    • Tatiana Nosenko (Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences).
      Yerushalayim versus Al Kuds: Holy Places in the National Self-Consciousness of Israelis and Palestinians
    • Dmitri Sanoyan (Institute for Research of Asia and Africa, Moscow State University).
      The Armenian Community of Jerusalem in the 20-th Century (Between Past and Future)
  • ‘Russian Israel’: from Ghettoization to Integration
    • Larissa Remennick (Bar-Ilan University).
      Cultural Affiliations and Lifestyles of Russian-Speaking Israelis: A Sociological View
    • Zvi Gitelman (University of Michigan).
      Jews and ‘Affiliated’ Non-Jews in and from the Former Soviet Union
    • Moshe Kenigstein (Tel-Aviv University).
      Transformation of Ethnic, Cultural and National Identification of non-Jewish Immigrants in Israel
    • Vladimir (Zeev) Khanin) (Bar-Ilan University).
      “All of Us are from Russia?”: Developing ‘Russian Jewish’ Politics in the State of Israel
    • Sabina Lissitsa (Ariel University Center of Samaria), Yohanan Peres (Tel-Aviv University).
      Criteria of Integration: Case of the “New Immigrants” in Israel
    • Narspy (Nataly) Zilberg (Bar-Ilan University).
      Symbolic Community: The Secular Cultural Codes and Rituals of “Russian” Immigrants in Israel
    • Nelly Ellias (University Ben-Gurion), Natalia Khvorostianoff (University Ben-Gurion).
      An Old Home on the New Street? Local Cultural Institutions of the “Russian Street” in Israel
  • Israel through the Prism of Literature and Cinema
    • Helena Rimon (University Center in Ariel).
      The Image of the Other in Hebrew Literature of the 20th Ventury: the Jewish lucrimax
    • Michael Weisskopf (Hebrew University in Jerusalem).
      ‘The Little Red Dress’: A Heroic Female in Anti-Zionist Prose of 1930s (‘The Burned Land’ by Mark Egart)
    • Olga Gershenson (University of Massachusetts-Amherst), Dale Hudson (Amherst College).
      In Love, Willingly: Immigration, Gender, and Cinema.
    • Anna Wexler Katsnelson (Harvard University).
      Zionist-Realist? The Cinematographic Displacements of Mikhail Kalik
    • Anna Ronell (Brandeis University).
      ‘Russian’ Immigration in Israel in the Mirror of Dina Rubina’s Works
  • Index of names
  • Index of places
  • Index of terms
  • Summaries
  • About us

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