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Cave Dwellers and Citrus Growers: A Jewish Community in Libya and Israel - by: Harvey E. Goldberg

Cave Dwellers and Citrus Growers: A Jewish Community in Libya and Israel - by: Harvey E. Goldberg

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Hardcover: 223 pages
Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (15 Jun. 1972)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 9780521084314
Package Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.5 x 1.8 cm
Condition: Collectible - Good

Review by DOROTHY WILLNER University of Kansas -

This thoughtful and engaging study is a welcome contribution to the growing an- thropological literature on Israel. The book also indicates the relevance of Israeli studies to major concerns of contemporary anthro- pologysuch concerns as stability and change, cultural uniformity and hetero- geneity, politics, and leadership. Although it would be difficult to study the Israeli cooperative settlements (moshauim) peopled by immigrants from the Middle East without considering such topics, Goldberg’s treat- ment is noteworthy for its craftsmanship. The terms of the study are stated in its introductory chapter. Goldberg characterizes it as “an ideographic account of a particular group of Middle Eastern immi- grants. . . from two hamlets of the Gharian Mountain district of Tripolitania, Libya.” But this disclaimer of sweeping categoriza- tions and generalizations is followed by interesting and suggestive explanations of the data, explanations with implications which go well beyond the people and com- munity described. The community manifested at the time of Goldberg’s fieldwork (1963-65) a striking absence of the conflict he had anticipated. As previous studies have described, social and cultural conflict was endemic in the universe of Israeli immigrant moshauim. Conflicts occurred among the settlers of villages and between settlers and representa- tives of the larger society seeking to change them. Political and other conflicts of the larger society were introduced into and enacted in the villages; and the villagers were able to utilize such conflicts to bring about changes they desired in the conditions of village life. Goldberg’s initial intention was to in- vestigate socialization “in a situation of pronounced culture-conflict.’’ In selecting a village for study, he sought one which had minimal endogenous sources of cultural variation and conflict. Its settlers had come as a homogeneous community. But despite the salient differences between their culture and that dominant in the larger society, most of the adult villagers were not aware of or not concerned with these differences. Manifestations of culture conflict as well as social conflict were notably absent from the village and from the situation of the children and youth. Goldberg’s explanation of this state of affairs links salient features of community life as he found it with the cultural repertoire which the settlers brought with them. This repertoire included various images or models of political action and family and community organization. Those which had adaptive value in the new setting were given expression in village social struc- ture. They made for stability while facili- tating the settlers’ rapid adaptation to the technological and economic conditions of moshau life. Thus, Goldberg describes how com- munity leadership has been vested in a single person both in the Gharian and in the Israeli village. Serving as community intermediary in its relations with the outside world, this person has been the most important member of the community elite. In the Gharian the community leader was the holder of the office of sheikh. In the moshav the occupant of the office of external secretary effectively dominated decision-making in the village as well as its relations with the agencies on which village development depended. Other office-holders in the village have had the same attributes as members of the elite in the Gharian-particularly greater wealth than other villagers and greater knowledge of the outside world-and they largely represent the Same families. Their orientation to the larger society, suggests Goldberg, has enabled the elite, especially the leader, to interpret and mediate changes in the environment to the remainder of the community. This orientation also has enabled the elite to adapt most successfully to such changes and thereby to maintain their economic position and elite status. Principles of organization which the immigrants brought with them constitute “an institutionalized mechanism for coping with change” (p. 6). In his account of the Gharian Jewish community (Ch. 2), his reconstruction of the moshau’s first dozen years (Ch. 3), his discussion of leadership in the village (Ch. 4), and of daily life and politics (Ch. 5), Goldberg summarizes findings indicative of the settlers’ familiarity with principles of organization and action which were not evident in the village while he was there. In a description of the village’s youth (Ch. 6), he suggests mechanisms through which the intergenerational transmission of elite status occurs. Elite fathers pass on to their sons their cosmopolitan orientation. These youths are then selected for leadership by their locally oriented peers. The cultural repertoire of the community includes inter- nal variation in attitudes. Goldberg’s analysis is open to various questions and qualifications. He anticipates most of them and tries to meet them. His careful presentation covers more topics than can be indicated here. His discussion of family and patriliny, for example, con- tributes clarity to a rather muddled set of issues in regard to the Jews of the Middle East. Goldberg’s modest style in discussing major concerns adds to the attractiveness of the book.
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