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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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Conclusions: Social Networks and the Migration Process

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Political events in the United States around 1924 had a profound influence on the historical perception of Jewish migration to Palestine at that time. Before this date, the choice for Jewish migrants was much wider. They could opt to go to the United States, South America, other European countries, or Palestine. Zionists framed this simply: true Zionists headed for Eretz Israel and non-Zionists headed for America. When the United States closed the door to mass immigration and several South American countries also reduced their immigration quotas, Jews wanting to migrate were faced with a choice between Europe and Palestine. This caused a change in Zionist perceptions, with every person deciding to go to Palestine after 1924 being automatically labelled an “accidental immigrant.” At the same time, Yishuv society, influenced by Zionist elites and aware of the narrow choice of destinations, began to charge newcomers with the lack of Zionist zeal. Every decision made by these immigrants, even where they chose to settle and the occupations they chose, were seen as confirmations of the Yishuv’s worst fears and interpreted as a trigger of economic and social crisis in the Yishuv. The question of what constituted a good Zionist and what the Yishuv gained from the immigration wave came to dominate political discourse and the historical research that followed. As a result, scholars pushed Polish participants of the so called Fourth Aliyah, their personal stories and other aspects of the migration process, to the edges of the historical narrative.825

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