Transnational community in the making: Russian-Jewish immigrants of the 1990s in Israel

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Abstract

Drawing on integrated analysis of Israeli statistics and social research (including a 2001 survey among 800 Russian Israelis), this article explores the birth of a transnational community of Russian Jews living in Israel and in other branches of the post-Soviet diaspora. The theoretical focus of the paper is the relationship between transnationalism and immigrant integration in the host country. It is shown that, due to its timing and composition, the Russian immigration of the 1990s was transnational at the outset. Transnational activities among Russian Israelis lie mainly in the socio-cultural realm and are intertwined with cultural separatism from the host society. During the 1990s, Russian-speakers, making 20 per cent of the Jewish population in Israel, have created a thriving subculture of their own. It is shown that reliance on co-ethnic networks plays a double role in the life of Israeli Russians. On the one hand, it empowers the weakest and the least integrated segments of the Russian community, attenuating their dependency on the host society. Yet, at the same time, it hampers economic success and social integration of many other immigrants, and reinforces cultural conflict between the newcomers and old-timers in Israel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-530
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Volume28
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The survey describd in ethis article was prt oaf the research project fuednbdy the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 899/00 in Social Sciences).

Keywords

  • Cultural separatism
  • Israel
  • Russian Jews
  • Transnationalism

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