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Social Networks and the Jewish Migration between Poland and Palestine, 1924–1928

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Magdalena M. Wrobel Bloom

This book analyses the role of social networks in the process of migration. Based on stories of Polish Jews who migrated between Poland and Palestine in the 1920s, the author presents all stages of the journey and shows how networks of friends and families spread in different countries contributed to the migration experience. Presenting these stories through correspondence, she shows how migrants were not only motivated by traditional push and pull factors, or ideology, but also by dependence on other members of their social network. This book shows the process of migration from the perspective of their international social ties.

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Chapter 4: Palestine as a New “Homeland” or Staying between Different Spaces?

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In a famous sketch from the 1970s entitled Aliyah,541 Arik Einstein and Uri Zohar humorously summarized how each wave of immigrants in the Yishuv and then Israel treated those who came after. First come the Russian Jews in the 1880s facing hostility from the local Arabs. When the Jews from Poland arrive several years later, the former emigrants from Russia look down on them and comment on the inferiority of their sweet gefilte fish compared to the Russian savoury gefilte fish. When the Jews from Yemen arrive next, Polish Jews take the position of the land’s owners and disparage the newcomers through their food: this time falafel, garlic, and hot sauce. After them come the Jews from Germany, then from Morocco and the circle of prejudices repeats over and over again.

Although the short movie is intended to make viewers laugh rather than teach, historical facts break through the humour. Beyond the hilarious depictions of prejudices about Jews from each country, the movie tells a harsh truth about the attitude of the society of the forming Yishuv towards the new immigrants: namely, that all the waves of newcomers had to struggle for acceptance by previous immigrants. Another obstacle hinted at in the movie and not easy to overcome by the newcomers was the characteristic language used in the Yishuv. While the mix of Hebrew, Arabic and borrowings from languages of each immigration wave reflected the cultural richness and diversity of the land, it also proved...

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