Between the Flag and the Banner

Women in Israeli Politics

By Yael Yishai

Subjects: Israel Studies
Series: SUNY series in Israeli Studies
Paperback : 9780791431283, 292 pages, November 1996
Hardcover : 9780791431276, 292 pages, November 1996

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Table of contents

List of Tables and Illustrations


1. Between the Flag and the Banner: Dilemmas in the Political Life of Israeli Women

Part I. Women in Political Institutions and Associations

2. Women in the Elite
3. Women's Associations and Movements

Part II. Ordinary Women in Political Life

4. Political Participation: Women in the Party-State
5. Women's Gender Identity: "Who am I?"

Part III. Women and Public Policy

6. Labor Policy: The Problem of Economic Equity
7. Family Policy: Patriarchy in the Jewish State
8. Body Politics: The Right to Life and Its Challengers
9. Conclusion: From Integration to Mobilization?




This first comprehensive study of the political life of Israeli women looks at political participation, political identity, women's political organizations, and public policy regarding women.


Because Israel has endured perennial armed conflict, its national agenda places overriding importance on national security and family life. At the same time, Israel is a democracy that fosters equality for all its citizens. Thus Israeli women are caught in a dilemma: whether to show allegiance to the national cause or to raise the banner of feminism and focus on women's rights. This book presents a broad perspective on the political life of Israeli women, both Jewish and non-Jewish. It is the first book to explore Israeli women's political participation, political identity, and political organizations, as well as public policy toward women. Situating Israel in a comparative theoretical framework, Yael Yishai focuses on the enduring tension between women's drive for power and their desire to belong and integrate from within.

Yael Yishai is Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of Haifa. Her previous books include Land of Paradoxes: Interest Politics in Israel (also published by SUNY Press); Factionalism in the Labor Movement: Faction B in Mapai; Israel: The Peaceful Belligerent, 1967–1979 (with A. Sella); Land or Peace: Whither Israel?; Interest Groups in Israel: The Test of Democracy; and The Israel Medical Association: The Power of Expertise.


"…an important and welcome contribution to the study of women in Israeli politics … worthwhile reading for all those interested in women in politics. " — Gender & Society

"The conceptual framework for this book draws upon a major theme in feminist literature: women's vacillation between operating outside or inside the political establishment; between mobilizing their own resources or those of the male-dominated political elite. Yishai does an excellent job in applying the mobilization/integration dilemma to the Israeli case. She is successful in showing the tension between mobilization and integration in a country where there is great disparity between the national imperative and feminist interests. Her arguments are clear and concise and she elegantly weaves together the theoretical arguments with interesting data. " — Chava Frankfort-Nachmias, University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee

"There is a dearth of material on women in Israel, and certainly none on women and the polity. This book makes an important contribution to the growing field. It is a superb book and an important contribution to the fields of women's studies, Israel studies, Middle Eastern studies, and comparative politics. " — Madeleine Tress, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, New York

"This is one of the best books I have ever reviewed. Among the book's strong features are its anchoring of the material in broad political and sociological theory, and its frequent international comparisons, both done through referral to the most important literature in the field. " — Walter F. Weiker, Rutgers University