ISSN 1522-211X O J P C R

The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution








OJPCR: The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution is a resource for students, teachers and practitioners in fields relating to the reduction and elimination of destructive conflict. It is a free, yet valuable, source of information to aid anyone trying to work toward a less violent and more cooperative world.

Issue 5.1


From Peacekeeping to Peacebuilding

From Violence to Peace: Terrorism and Human Rights in Sri Lanka

Personal Empowerment as the Missing Ingredient for a Resolution of the Israel/Palestine Conflict

Creating a More Peaceful Classroom Community by Assessing Student Participation and Process


To Protect Democracy (Not Practice It): Explanations of Dyadic Democratic Intervention (DDI)

Why did the Colombia Peace Process Fail?

Truth and Reconciliation: The Road Not Taken in Namibia

Africa Crisis Response Initiative: Its Workability as a Framework for Conflict Prevention and Resolution

Culture, Gender, Power and Conflict in Melanie Thernstrom's Halfway Heaven: Diary of a Harvard Murder

Kant's Perpetual Peace: A New Look at this Centuries-Old Quest

An Analysis of Bloody Sunday

The Jewish Group: Highlighting the Culture Problem in Nation-States

How Can I Teach Peace When the Book Only Covers War?

Cooperation in Pluralistic Societies: An Analytic Mathematical Approach

The Jewish Group: Highlighting the Culture Problem in Nation-States

Tony Momiroski

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The fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November, 1989 has ushered in a period of disintegration within some recent nation states. The resultant questions reflect upon the historic-cultural legitimacy of some nation states. Particularly pertinent here are recently created states such as Bosnia, which had been unheard of in history since the Middle Ages (Mousset, 1950:117), Albania, where there was no state before 1913 because there was no Albania (Hobsbawm, 1999:37), and Israel, where in 1948 the most recent history to justify itself was by then "at least two thousand years old" (Hobsbawm, 1999:26). Unlike Bosnia and Albania, which were the result of political considerations among the victors of the two World Wars, Israel's resurrection is fairly unique in political terms.

This essay proposes to explore the factors that have sustained the Jewish group's identity across geographic (national) boundaries before the formation of the State of Israel in 1948. Additionally, I will highlight the implications of state-based national consciousness in the period after. The period under investigation is principally 1897-1948, though it will be necessary to refer to the earlier and later periods from time to time. The period under discussion has direct implications upon contemporary events.

Group Boundary Maintenance

What are the boundaries of the Jewish group?

The frameworks available to us in understanding the Jewish group before the formation of the modern State of Israel are limited. (2) The validity of the term 'Jewish Group' is itself problematic because differences existed between groups, classes, societies, and in states. To the extent that a 'Jewish Group' can be said to exist then I argue it is to be found in response to the question: What does it mean, in a cultural and historical sense, when some citizens of nation states see themselves as members of some other group? And more specifically, what type of group were Jews before the formation of the State of Israel? The alternative is to assume that no such group existed and the many millions who identified themselves as Jewish were nothing more then aberrations of history.

We live in an ever changing world of shifting national (geographic) and ethnic boundaries. While on the surface this would lead to conclusions that, over time, people would merge with the surrounding ethnic groups and lose their identities and peculiarities, the opposite has been the case: "boundaries persist despite a flow of personnel across them"(Barth, 1969:9). This poses a number of questions in the arena of our concern. Namely, in what terms do Jews continue to see themselves as Jews, when their group has spanned the geographic boundaries of multitudes of groups? Were these Jews like or unlike the Jews now? This is essentially a problem for historical research and will engender endlessly speculative and heated historical debates. I am not here interested in this point. My concern is to explore whether the boundaries of the Jewish group existed before the ideological (3) creation of the State of Israel and, if they did, to suggest how these boundaries were maintained. For the moment, it is chiefly in terms of their religion as a symbolic marker that Jews argue for the right to be identified as Jews.

The historian Eric Hobsbawm has noted that "the ideological division of Europe's population and nations and ethnic groups is a recent invention that dangerously simplifies the realities"(1992:23). It has fed the national aspirations of the many displaced people in this period in Europe who pursued and continues to pursue recognition in national terms. The consequent solutions continue to be problematic today and confront us daily in the media. As Hobsbawm argues more recently, wars fought at present are continuations of wars produced by the "international system of powers in the 20th century, and before that, in the nineteenth" (1999:7).

What type of boundaries, then, are those the Jewish group claims for itself in the period before the formation of the State of Israel. These boundaries, to the extent they exist, are a matter for dispute. For example Jews can be looked at from the perspective of race, nationality, or ethnicity or even that the Jews are a subculture or counterculture within the hegemony of its geographic hosts. There are, as I shall point out, irreconcilable problems with the demarcation of the terms: race, nationality, ethnicity, subculture, and counterculture. To the extent that this group can be located in cultural terms, its location is to be found within these frameworks.

Let me begin with 'counterculture.' The origin of the term counterculture is disputed though, as Marcuse notes, counterculture probably had its modern origins in Hegel's "negativism" and dialectical view of history and social change (Leventman, 1982:4). This concept of "anticulture" embodies the view that it grew out of or even co-existed with "procultural" or traditionally established forms (Ibid.). In its modern usage, counterculture gives rise to two different but not entirely clear categories: 'counterculture' and 'subculture,' which "cut across and fuse with each...a number of phenomena addressed by these two terms" (Bash,1982:22). Secondly, to the extent that the two terms can be separated, the difference "must be understood in dynamic terms" (Walter, 1982:75).

'Subculture' sits as a differentiated species "not necessarily delighted with its situation, but determined to make the best of it, sharing some of its life with the dominant culture, content or resigned, as the case may be, to enjoy or to regret the part it does not share" (Walter, 1982:75). Subculture in this sense can be likened to the punk, hippy, or gay "Mardi Gras" movements where 'subculture' is a meaning of style. The style is that of difference, and the participants of the subcultures "merely pay tribute to the place in which (this difference) was produced" (Hebdidge, 1979:136). >From the stand-point of the dominant culture, by contrast, the best a subculture can offer "is a picturesque specimen of variety" (Water, 1982:75). The problem of seeing the Jewish group only in terms of subculture should be self-evident. Nevertheless, there are elements of subculture that typify the Jewish group sustenance over time, where people who identified themselves as Jews inhabited the domain of other established groups.

'Counterculture,' on the other hand, "condemns the dominant culture and refuses to adapt" (Walter, 1982:75). It challenges ordinary life and makes demands, sometimes requiring nothing less than the conversion or submission of the majority through revolution. While this explanation is plausible and can account for the Jewish refusal to fully assimilate with their host, it does pose the problem of how to account adequately for group coexistence before the aforementioned "ideological division of Europe" (Hobsbawn, 1992:23) and the formation of the State of Israel. Likewise, counterculture cannot highlight adequately either the factors responsible or the role they play in the sustenance of the Jewish identity where there is "dissensus," but a dissensus "without conflict" (Halley, 1989:166). Furthermore, to see the Jewish group as a counterculture within the hegemonic dominance of its geographic host is to overestimate the patience of any State to tolerate a hostile counterculture living within its boundaries. It follows, that it is not in the conflict of counterculture that we should look for and find evidence of the factors that have sustained Jewish identity but in dissensus without conflict, where Jews co-existed with other ethnic groups, but at the same time maintained as a group, as did the other ethnic groups, their own peculiarities and customs. It is impossible to fix Jewish identity only within the frame of counterculture. At the same time the value of counterculture is in the role it can play when linked with other cultural models in explaining identity traits that are attributable to the sustenance of this group.

The terms 'race' and 'nation' are also problematic. I would argue these are difficult if not impossible concepts to capture, particularly in respect to Jews. The term 'race' is synonymous with a concept "referring to a distinct sub-system, membership of which is defined in biological terms" (Bulmer, 1986:54). This means people who belong to a race have "certain bodily and perhaps also mental characteristics in common" (Boas, 1966:4). Though, while it is perhaps appropriate to distinguish races on these grounds between whites "with their light skin, straight or wavy hair and high nose, (as) a race set off clearly from the Negroes with their dark skin, frizzy hair and flat nose" (Ibid.), these distinguishing characteristics are not so easily discernible in Europe from where the majority of Jews have come. In terms of Europe it may be said that, along distinct biological characteristics, "no satisfactory classification exists to which individuals may be assigned" (Bulmer, 1986:55). Therefore when we talk about race in terms of Jews, it is not appropriate to talk in terms of this or that group's "physical attributes but in terms of their situation in a particular society which makes them socially distinct groups in their own eyes and in the eyes of others" (Ibid.). It is not possible in respect to Jews to sustain an argument along racial grounds.

In respect to 'nationality,' in 1948 this question was answered. Before the establishment of the state of Israel, no such claims to nationhood can be made. First, Jews had neither common territory nor did they speak a common language. Their common trait was a cultural identity framed in religious group dimensions. Second, because the word nation has been in a state of change, and third, because new meanings and concepts such as nationalism and nationalities have evolved from the word nation. Through the latter "an effort is made to give subjective and symbolic meaning to merely objective distinctions between peoples, and to increase the number of attributes and symbolic referents that they have in common with each other and that distinguish them from other groups" (Brass, 1991:20). The key here is the word "effort." This effort creates its own problems because the selection of additional symbols inevitably involves "either the loss of potential adherents or the need to persuade or coerce group's members to change their language, religion, behavior, or dress" (Ibid.:21). If the process is successful, the nationality created out of a group is "sure to be a quite different social formation from the initial group" (Ibid.). This has been evident with the transformation of the Jewish group into modern-day Israelites since the formation of the modern state of Israel.

In the absence of the suitability of the terms race and nationality to explain Jews, their identity, to the extent that it can be found, must lie in the junction of subculture, counterculture, and ethnicity.

Like race, ethnicity is one of the "most elusive terms to define clearly in social science research" (Bulmer, 1986:55). Due to spatial constraints, it is not possible here to discuss the many definitions of ethnicity. However, if there is any standard criterion today of what constitutes ethnicity it is surely:

…collectivity within a larger society having real or putative common ancestry, memories of a shared past, and a cultural focus on one or more symbolic elements which define the group's identity, such as kinship, religion, language, shared territory, nationality or physical appearance. Members of an ethnic group are conscious of belonging to the group (Bulmer, 1986:54).

Ethnicity, then, is a process of inclusion and exclusion by people, both from within and from without the system. An ethnic group that uses cultural symbols in order to differentiate themselves from other groups is a "subjectively self-conscious community" (Brass, 1991:19). At this point, matters of descent, birth, and a sense of kinship may become important to ethnic group members for the methods of inclusion into and exclusion from the group. Ethnicity or ethnic identity also involves "a claim to status and recognition" (Ibid.) either as a superior group or as a group equal to other groups.

While ethnicity may include all the above named characteristics, it need not always do so. The number and type of elements present in one ethnic group, and the degree of significance attributed to each element, may vary from another group despite the fact that they may be in regular contact with each other (Barth,1969:10-11). However, language and religion are taken, wherever possible, to express and symbolize ethnicity. Here lies the chief problem in identifying the Jewish group as an ethnic group in its fullest sense as it fails on all but religious grounds.

The boundaries to which we refer here are social boundaries, though they may have territorial counterparts. In other words if "a group maintains its identity when members interact with others, this entails criteria for determining membership and exclusion" (Barth, 1969:10-11).

Ethnicity has its own particular shortfalls. First, within the political arena, ethnic groups use ethnicity to make demands for an "alteration in their status, in their economic well-being, in their civil rights, or their educational opportunities" (Brass, 1991:19). They are, in this sense, engaged in a form of interest group politics that may or may not eventually go further and be translated into demands for "national status and recognition" (Ibid.:20). They argue in terms of language and religion. However, while language is taken, whenever possible, to express and symbolize ethnicity, as Hobsbawm argues "standardized written language (as distinct from village dialect) a rather late historical construction...and often it does not exist at all, as between Serb and Croats" (1992:23). Claims in terms of ethnicity on linguistic grounds are limited for Jews. Hebrew was not a determining unifying factor because it was not a common language between groups across boundaries. So too in respect to religion no easy answers are forthcoming, however Judaism was practiced widely if not exclusively by this group.

Ethnicity, however, remains perhaps the most relevant and least contentious of all of the above mainstream (4) concepts in respect to Jews in the period in question. Ethnicity, whatever it may be, is a way of "expressing a real sense of group identity which links the members of 'we' because it emphasizes their differences from 'them' (and because it) is not programmatic and even less is it a political concept" (Hobsbawm,1992:24). In these terms the subjective as well as the objective concept of language, religion, and oppression can be important for the constitution of an ethnic group.

Jewish Ethnic Identity

What factors have maintained Jewish group boundaries?

I would argue that the Jewish group identity, and with it the maintenance of Jewish group boundaries, has been shaped by three pervasive influences: oppression, religion, and the collective group experience of theHolocaust before the formation of the state of Israel. On the face of it, language ought to be, and is normally, a significant determinant in the shaping of group boundaries. However, as I point out below, it has not been one of the markers that was crucial to the maintenance of this group's boundaries before the formation of the state of Israel. Therefore when we talk of the maintenance of Jewish group boundaries, we attempt to explain a fairly unique specimen group in a socio-dynamic cultural sense.


A starting point to an understanding of group boundary maintenance is the recognition of the way in which cultural displacement occurs. Oppressing groups by their type of rule and actions contributes to the identity of groups.

Oppression is important for the constitution of a group. Different oppressing methods and regimes will, of course, result in different outcomes. The oppression methods of some ruling groups in the pre-Nazi period who allow other groups to live within their boundaries are not unfavorable to the maintenance of group identities. As far as these groups are concerned, so long as the "material necessities were supplied by…(the) subjects, the precise methods of local government and administration were matters of indifference" (Marriot, 1958:77). Under this form of rule, survival of group identity was more or less a given because regular income by way of the various taxes was assured in a stable society. There were exceptions to the rule, because this type of administration left the people at the mercy of petty tyrants. However, as Marriot argues, the rest of the time it left people very much to themselves and it was this local "autonomy...which largely the resuscitation of national self-consciousness among the conquered peoples" (Ibid.). As for other types of oppression, for example the oppression of the Nazis, it placed into question the very existence and future survival of the oppressed groups - the Jewish group in this instance.

Displacement of peoples leads to the desire to dissolve borders dividing groups. Since secession is unacceptable in most cases, governments such as Germany must first decide if they will permit these groups to reside within their immediate or extended state. The governments must then grant them rights. If not, the alternatives are genocide, expulsion, transfer, assimilation, or a combination of these. I do not wish to be involved here in allegations of the usage of these instruments by any group. The Holocaust would certainly suffice to illustrate the use of this instrument, highlighting the need to recognize oppression as a significant factor in any analysis of boundary maintenance so far as Jews are concerned in the Nazi period.

Transfer has been a popular method used to separate the people from land in the area of our concern. However, as Pearson notes, "what had seemed in 1919 to be a promising trial run in population transfer turned out to be neither truly reciprocal nor consider transfer as a 'general prescription' for the minority problem was nothing less than 'outrageous'"(1983:140). Despite transfers, however, there are still people within the geographic boundaries of states who have continued to see themselves as members of other groups.

There have also been assimilation programs by states. However, states are not altogether "successful assimilators" (Conner, 1980:179). If they were, people would not still claim to be members of groups other than the states within which they find themselves. As Conner rightly notes "when scholars and statesmen make contradictory claims about the national identity of a people, that people has not yet adopted (this) identity" (1980:183).

This linkage between oppression and group identity has continued in both periods, Pre-Nazi and Nazi. But in the former its relevance was in the maintenance of group boundaries, while in the latter its role was in accelerating national consciousness because of the threat posed to the actual survival of the groups concerned.


Language is synonymous with identity, it is "used to unify and to differentiate ethnic groups" (Sugar, 1980:435). Here the language is in a narrow sense a basic, indispensable means of communication. In a broad sense, it is a major element of communication required to tie a group together. In its wider sense language includes "gestures, feelings expressed by dress, rituals, dietary habits and taboos, and other social manifestations that differ from one ethnic region to another" (Ibid.:434). At its simplest level, language functions as diacritica which tie disparate villages and groups together. It is from this perspective that language is important in the maintenance of ethnic boundaries. In the period under investigation, however, while national culture is often urged as an essential criterion of nationality, "that culture is often limited to a small educated class" (Glaser & Possony, 1979:127). Hence language is not being claimed here as a national or an ethnic group marker because Hebrew was not the language of all Jews in the pre-formation period of the State of Israel.

So far as language is concerned what needs to be said in regard to the present subject has been aptly captured by Bodmer:

Aramic, not Hebrew, was the mother-tongue of Palestine during the period with which the gospel narrative deals. When the Evangelists quote the words of Christ, the language is Aramic, not Hebrew. By that time the local Canaanite dialect in which the earlier parts of the Old Testament were written was already a dead language. The decline of Hebrew set in with the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity which began in the 6th century BC. It was soon superseded by Aramaic, which became the literary as well as the spoken medium of the Jews after the Maccabean period. Hebrew survived only as a language of scholarship and ritual, like Latin in medieval Christendom. It never quite ceased to be written or spoken. Its uninterrupted, though slender, continuity with the past has encouraged Zionists to increase the difficulties of existence for Jews by trying to revive it as a living tongue (1943:422).


The language in which religion is exercised is an important factor in the way that people identify with the church and the ethnic group to which they belong. It was for this very same reason that in Ireland during the reign of Edward VI, while the doctrines of Protestantism were promulgated, there was no serious attempt to translate the service into Irish. An Irish liturgy would have "hindered the plan of Anglicizing Ireland had the use of Irish tongue been employed in the Church" (Sisters of Notre Dame, 1910:228). Accordingly, it is significant for the Jewish group that the Hebrew language is used in their religious ceremonies. To the extent that it was understood by them or practiced in their daily life remains questionable.

The role of religion is important as an instrument whose potency lies in the subjective understanding by the followers that this religion represents their group. In this context it is the everyday interactive rituals of religion that are important to the maintenance of group solidarity for Jews.

Ritual behavior, and thus ritual content, "results from purposive interaction between individuals determined by their interpretations of the ritual's interactive situation" (Ford, 1983:19). In the former, religion functions as a vehicle to highlight differences of national or ethnic consciousness, while in the latter religion provides a "means of social boundary maintenance" (Ibid.). In the public displays of religious worship, "identities are confirmed and interpersonal commitments are established that are essential to continuing membership in the community from which support and assistance can be mobilized" (1983:20). Thereby maintaining, reproducing, and transmitting a sense of "group well being" and solidarity for those within the group and as a spectacle to portray this view to those outside it.

The Holocaust

The realization of supremacist views is abhorrent to any reasonable person. What is important for us is that the collective mental connection attached to this event by Jews, and the collective condemnation by others as a result of this event, has been a significant determining factor in the Jewish affirmation of a Jewish identity. Here oppression is a significant factor along with Judaism in the collective experience of Jewish group identity. (5)

Mechanics of Jewish Boundary Maintanence

What were the mechanics of Jewish group boundary maintenance before the 'ideological' formation of the State of Israel?

Ethnicity in conventional anthropological terms normally presupposes language, religion, and/or geography as a prerequisite. It differs from group to group. For Jews, in most instances, only religion has been the glue that kept this group together for thousands of years despite the fact that differences existed between groups, classes, societies, and in states. In a cultural sense, it is not so easy to locate this group. To the extent that Jews can be explained within existent models, their identity needs to be found in the lines of demarcation between Subculture, Counterculture, and Ethnicity (Figure 1).

Figure 1 (6)

The feelings of the illiterate, predominantly peasant Jewish population of Europe at the turn of the 20th century were not recorded. Perry argues that the available sources clearly suggest "the peasantry's identity was determined by local, regional, socio-economic, and religious factors...their self-image was colored by what they were not - not Muslim, not wealthy, not members of the ruling castes" (1988:21). The new reality that confronted these Jewish groups after the partitioning following the Balkan Wars would no doubt add to the distinction of "what they were not." In both instances, before and after the partitioning, the Jewish religion is of paramount importance. And it is worth noting that it is mainly through religion and language "how the sense of ethnic identity is generated and transmitted, how it persists and how it is transformed" (Epstein, 1978:96).

As for the other Jewish groups, and there were many of them, as Popper has noted the "proportion of Jews or men of Jewish origin among University professors, medical men, and lawyers was very high...Jews could rise to the highest positions in the civil service" (1976:105). Journalism was another profession that attracted many Jews.

There were many Jews from both the peasant groups and the educated who did merge with the population within which they lived - "assimilation worked" (Popper, 1976:105). Where Jews reasoned that living within an overwhelming Christian society imposed "an obligation to give as little offense as possible - to become assimilated," (Ibid.) they did so by making the ultimate sacrifice and being baptized in the faith of their host's religion.

The mechanisms of group maintenance for Jews at the simplest level in this period are colored by everyday realities. The Jewish group rejects the oppressing groups. This entails a whole style of life whereby the Jewish population, because of "behaviour or characteristics positively condemned" (Barth, 1969:31) such as differences in religion, rejects the oppressing group. The oppressors' identity imposes a definition on social situations that gives very little scope for interaction on an interpersonal level. Here subculture is a meaning of 'style' and style is that of difference. Jews shared some of their lives with the dominant culture and were content or resigned to enjoy or regret the part they did not share. Through their difference they paid tribute to the place in which this difference was produced (Walter, 1982:75 & Hebdidge, 1979:136). On a different level, Jews challenged the dominant culture in their refusal to adapt (Walter, 1982:75). Certainly following the foundation of Zionism in 1897 they made demands of the dominant culture that are most illuminating when seen in countercultural terms.

Similarly, the very nature of oppression creates a very unique lifestyle for the Jewish group in an ethnic sense. Where there is less security and people live under a greater threat of arbitrariness and violence outside their primary communities, "the insecurity itself acts as a constraint on inter-ethnic contacts" (Barth, 1969:36). Also where a person is dependent for his security on the voluntary and spontaneous support of his own community, "self-identification as a member of this community needs to be explicitly expressed and confirmed" (Ibid.:36-37). Any behaviour deemed deviant in terms of the standards by the group, for instance if a Jewish member attempts to take on the characteristics of the oppressor, may be interpreted by his group as a weakening of identity and thereby eroding the basis of security of this group. As Popper has noted, assimilation often "meant giving offense to organized Judaism... being denounced as a coward, as a man who feared anti-Semitism" (1976:105). Therefore host members, in most instances, are not prepared to embrace the characteristics of the oppressor. Furthermore, it is from the perspective that one of the roles of religion can be to control deviant behaviour - that religion can be seen to reinforce the above relationship of conformity to the Jewish groups' standards, thus sustaining the Jewish group identity (Rohrbaugh & Jessor, 1975:136-155).

There is little incentive or obvious advantage to assimilate especially where the survival of the oppressor is dependent on the maintenance of the status quo. Moreover, assimilation "does not occur when those who wield power use it to block off access by (groups) to the good things in life and especially to societal power itself" (Worsley, 1980:413).

The relationship therefore between the 'Jewish group' and the 'oppressors' of whatever persuasion "represented an inescapable disability that prevented (either group) from assuming the normal statuses involved in other definitions of the situation of interaction" (Barth, 1969:31), thereby maintaining the boundaries of each group. The group boundaries, however, are most strongly manifest in daily life by excluding the Jewish population who makes use of "easily noticeable diacritica to advertise their identity" (Ibid.), such as folk songs, dress, humor, and in particular, religion in this instance.

There are at least two questions that lead from the above discussion on Jewish group boundaries: To what extent were the cultural variables of the dispersed Jewish groups valid in the recognition of the Jewish group in national terms? And to what extent are these boundaries reflected in the existent cultural boundaries of the new Jewish group following the formation of the State of Israel? The first question will not detain us here, as it is a controversial and emotional subject for Jews and others alike, (7) so that it warrants an essay all its own. The answer to the second raises important questions about 'total-culture' consciousness raising programmes that become central to the well being and ongoing survival of modern nation-states. (8)

The establishment of the State of Israel: Is this a problem?

The State of Israel, through its hegemonic apparatus, has transformed the Jews that were scattered across the world for many millennia into modern day Israelites. The extent to which the new Jewish model (Figure 2) (9) is true to the traditional group model discussed above (Figure 1) is debatable.

Figure 2 (10)

Figure 2 illustrates the dynamics of cultural boundaries within modern nation-states. Within these states the citizens are depicted as portraying a single and unifying consensus of national unity and consciousness, and the differences between the various groups illustrated in Figure 1 are made to melt into nothingness. (11) In this connection we note that, in the new state, the language spoken is Hebrew whereas previously it was often that of the host. While Judaism is the official religion, it is the orthodox variety that, in most arenas of public discourse, now takes precedence (Thackrah, 1985:134-135). (12) The sharing of a common geography (land) is another significant difference from Figure 1, which the Jewish group had not enjoyed for some 1,879 years after the destruction by the Romans of the "Second Jewish Commonwealth" (Freilich, 1967:206). The implication here is that while there is an expectation for balance between sharing and diversity in such a multicultural society, the striving for uniformity ought to be of concern. Clearly, something needs to be said here in respect to hegemony.

By hegemony I mean "the power to frame alternatives and contain opportunities, to win and shape consent, so that the granting of legitimacy...appears not only 'spontaneous' but natural and normal" (Bennet, et al., 1981:59). This has been, no doubt, the reality confronting modern industrial societies. This is true of the State of Israel since its creation and incorporation within the former Palestinian lands. It is equally true of all modern nation-states.

The hegemonic cultural order in all of these states can be said to operate through the public face of the state, the media, public art and architecture, voluntary and religious groups, sport, tourism, and others (Horne, 1986:81). By state I refer to not only the apparatus of government, "but also the private apparatus of 'hegemony' or civil society" (Gramsci, 1971:261). Through these institutions "certain values and ways of behaving characteristic of the people running the place" are promoted (Horne, 1988:2-3), so they limit and organize realities. Here all "citizens are made to appear to be common" (Horne,1989:81) by framing the "cultural order" so it includes "all competing definitions of the world within its range" (Bennet, et al., 1981:59).

It is not surprising, then, that national aspirations should develop in modern nation-states, within whose boundaries the citizens are continuously subjected to and overwhelmed by the full force of the state apparatus. Likewise, it comes as no surprise that modern nations have fairly uniform literary, historical, political, legal, and educational traditions and institutions, where consensus has already been "won, worked for, reproduced, sustained" (Bennet, et al., 1981:61) to portray a single and unifying consensus of national unity and consciousness. It is for this reason that a reliance on what each state purports to be its national identity must be seen with some reservation, and the historical materials from whose strength validity is drawn, for this culture, must be recognized for what they are - a selective history. It is precisely for this reason that alternative models and approaches, such as the present one, are necessary to historical and state inspired ones.

History is important, but it is at best a selective medium by virtue of what is put in and, by inference, what is left out. As the late Manning Clark notes "there is no such thing as history, but many kinds of history" (1976:45). In a similar vein, Popper also observes that, "there can be no history without a point of view...history must be selective" (1974:150). However, here lies the crux of the problem. These selective historical approaches or points of view "cannot be tested, if they cannot be refuted, and apparent confirmations are...of no value...(they are) historical interpretation" (Ibid.: 151). Furthermore, any historical approach in its justification of a particular point of view, glosses over the fact that people will continue to identify with their group regardless of which historical view one takes.

Similarly, as the role of the state must be conceived of as an educator, but an educator that "tends precisely to create a new type of level of civilization" (Gramsci, 1971:217), we must also guard against approaches that fail to unveil state- manufactured identities.

The problem for this writer is that having manufactured and legitimized its new Jewish identity, the original boundaries that were significant for this group's sustenance over time can be destroyed or transformed, so they become merely points of historical reference. These markers in time are lost, fused, or their authenticity is doubted by some. Alternatively, a mechanism is put in place to prevent regression. This can be seen when Freilich, following Goldman argues for the future role for Zionism following the establishment of the Jewish State. The role that Zionism needs to play in the new state is in preventing disintegration through assimilation. So that "Zionism, in partnership with the State of Israel...had a better chance to ensure the future of the Jewish people...the Zionist movement was a means to an end, a means for Jewish survival" (1967:237).

Jews did not, of course, have their own hegemonic apparatus before 1948, when the State of Israel was born. It is for this reason that the sustenance of Jewish identity, in the absence of its own hegemony to procure and shape its identity, is important for the light it will shed on cultural reproduction.


The creation of the State of Israel gave rise to widespread Jewish national feelings. The architects of this state may well be credited with the awakening of Jewish national consciousness. Hobsbawm is right when he claims it is "the ideological division of Europe's population" (1992:23) that created the various nations and ethnic groups. I agree with this interpretation in respect to Jews also.

What constituted Jewish group boundaries are located in the role that religion and oppression as important variables play for the Jewish group in the pre-1948 period. On the other hand, the cultural model utilized by the modern State of Israel results in the creation of a very different group to that which originally gave rise to statehood.

The manufacture and validation of a new identity is of concern not only in respect to Jews, but in any discussion concerning newly created nation-states. It is certainly true that its new Jewish identity has made it increasingly easier for the Jewish group to legitimize the difficult circumstances and factors that led to its induction into statehood over time. In the process, Israel has effectively moved the resultant questions (13) out of the world spotlight thus highlighting the culture problem in nation-states.

What is left to be said, is that ideological solutions to group problems are not effective solutions in addressing everyday realities confronting groups. The solution to one problem is not an effective solution if it creates another problem and results in the displacement of another such group. The New World Order promises more of the same. There are no fundamental changes. As Chomsky notes, no new paradigms are needed to make sense of what is happening. The basic rules of world order remain as they have always been:

…the rule of law for the weak, the rule of force for the strong; the principles of 'economic rationality' for the weak, state power and intervention for the strong. As in the past, privilege and power do not willingly submit to popular control or market discipline, and therefore seek to undermine meaningful democracy and to bend market principles to their special needs (1994:271).


1. The cultural model used here is that which the writer first explored in "NaŠite Granici: Macedonian group boundaries 1900-1945" (Journal of Intercultural Studies, 1993:35-52). Tony Momiroski is Visiting Professor at Mahidol University-Salaya.

2. The transition by a group to statehood in such limited cultural terms is unprecedented. So too, the argument for legitimacy, amongst other things, on "the just historical claims of the Jewish people" (Freilich, 1967:208) is itself problematic in at least two respects. First, because history, as I discuss elsewhere, is "selective" and second, because there were many Jewish groups. It is for this reason that a profile such as the present one is necessary.

3. While the writer concedes that Zionism was a multi-faceted ideology affected by 19th Century German Nationalism and Imperialism, amongst other factors, it is nevertheless also a consistent and converging movement toward nationhood that was characteristic of the national aspirations of many displaced people of the period.

4. Subculture and counterculture are movements outside of the mainstream culture.

5. None has elaborated their suffering more successfully towards personal gain and benefit as did the Jewish group following the Second World War.

6. No quantitative or qualitative value is being attached to the contribution made by subculture, counterculture, or ethnicity to this group's identity as illustrated in Figure 1. No percentage ratio can be offered. We simply do not have a precedent for a group of this type that in such limited ethnic terms alone made the transition to a nation state. The contribution that the three frameworks of subculture, counterculture, and ethnicity in sum make are necessary when ethnicity alone is incapable of explaining this group.

7. Palestinians, for instance, would argue strongly against the validity of such a model, especially given that it was on their land that the Jewish State came to be. In other words, it is not the Palestinian desire for a homeland that is at the root of existent problems, as they already had one, but it is Israel's expulsion of them from their homeland in the first place that has caused much antagonism subsequent to 1948.

8. Since religion is, perhaps, the only link to the pre-1948 cultural model of the Jewish group (as discussed here), it is worthwhile to draw an example from religion to illustrate the problem that challenges us in respect to the 'total-culture' model in modern nation-states. While it is true that modern Judaism is, since 1948, basically split into three divisions: 're-form' (or liberal), 'orthodox,' and 'conservative', it is the orthodox who have had a monopoly over official religious affairs. Only orthodox rabbis sit on local religious councils, which provide various religious services, perform marriages and conversions, and grant divorces (Patterson, 1997:51).

9. It is worth noting that the nation building consciousness of this nation-state follows the nation-building programs of many nations of the same period.

10. No quantitative or qualitative value is being attached to the contribution made by the listed factors to this group's identity as illustrated in Figure 2. Nor are they listed in any particular order of importance or meant to be exhaustive. The variables can be increased to include: history, architecture, law, sports, tourism, literature, education, and others.

11. Here the public face of the state and civil society promote certain values and ways of behavior that become the preserve of the masses. In Figure 2, the political, religious, linguistic, media, and arts portray the unity of the nation as an affirmation of the group itself and as a spectacle to others to confirm this groups existence in these terms.

12. As for endnote viii above.

13. For example, the disputed territory allotted to the Palestinians for their state, which Jewish forces began taking before the Jewish State was even declared. (It was against these forces that the Arab states launched attacks in the first instance and not against the Jewish State).


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Tony Momiroski currently teaches Language at Woosong University in South Korea and is the author of several works concerning culture, language and war and peace, including asite Granici: Macedonian Group Boundaries 1900-1945 Journal Of Intercultural Studies 1993;14:35-52.

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