The main theme of this issue is Israel's elites and their transformations over the years. This important subject has not been adequately studied. An elite is a small group of individuals who have a profound influence over decision making in a society or country. By contrast, the general public is larger in number but has limited influence over decisions and may surface to the forefront only in major protests, long strikes, rebellions, or revolutions.
Much has taken place since Israel was established by its founders, who saw themselves as members of the socialist labour movement. These founders were of the view that the notion of social justice (within the Jewish community, of course) was a pivotal project and goal in their ideology and political practice. It seems that the halcyon days of the kibbutz had been long gone, however. As a socialist cooperative model, the kibbutz illustrated an advanced form of social and economic organising, as well as a distinctive feature and registered trademark of the State of Israel. When Israel was established, all state economic institutions, including in the health, mail, aviation, transportation and insurance sectors, were in the public domain. However, over the past three decades, neoliberal policies have managed to privatise and transfer these sectors to the private sector and individual property. All the more so, some apparently non-privatisable sectors, such as security and military facilities, have become prone to privatisation and profit-making.
Conflict over Palestine has taken, and continues to take, several forms. First and foremost, it is a conflict over land (geography) and identity of the population (demography). In addition, it is a conflict over narrative and history. A review of the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel demonstrates how intensive and concise this narrative is, unveiling the intellectual foundations of Zionism. This narrative has the advantage of being able to select, and skip, parts of the Jewish history as it wishes. The narrative begins with the Old Testament, but soon eschews from two thousand years of the Jewish history in the Diaspora and turns back to the twentieth century,
This is the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel and the Nakba of Palestine. Both are two ends of the same continuum. This issue attempts to highlight these events and show how they are assimilated within Israeli society. To this avail, publications authored by Ben-Gurion himself are reviewed and translated. The translated text does not reflect diaries written in 1948 about that time, but was produced at a later stage by Ben-Gurion. A book on the logic of partitions is about to be published by Stanford University. Edited by historians Arie M. Dubnov and Laura Robson, the book seeks to understand the “solution” of partition as part of a colonial intellectual
As part of a settlement enterprise, Zionism decided to establish a national home for the Jews in an already populated country. From the outset, this meant that this enterprise sought to transform the Jews into a majority and the Arab Palestinians into a minority. Without a transformation of this kind, it was impossible for Zionism to fulfil the promise it had made to its people, namely, self-determination in a state of their own. At first, the idea of a majority and statehood was esoteric. In the 1920s, a debate took place between political and cultural Zionism about whether the Jews should be the majority or be too many without constituting a majority. In the 1903s and 1940s, this debate was resolved in favour of Ben-Gurion. The statehood project was transformed into a declared programme, which was embraced by Zionism.