Constructing Boundaries

Jewish and Arab Workers in Mandatory Palestine

By Deborah S. Bernstein

Subjects: Israel Studies
Series: SUNY series in Israeli Studies
Paperback : 9780791445402, 277 pages, March 2000
Hardcover : 9780791445396, 277 pages, March 2000

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Table of contents





Current Approaches and New Directions

The Split Labor Market Theory and Its Historical Grounding

Part I
The Split Develops

Chapter 1
The Split Labor Market of Mandatory Palestine: Actors, Sectors, and Strategies

Demographic and Social Trends
Jewish and Arab Labor
Jewish Labor
Arab Labor
The Differential Value of Jewish and Arab Labor
The Economic Sectors of Palestine
From Sectors Back to Actors
Alternative Strategies

Chapter 2
Haifa—Growing and Growing Apart

Early Tremors of Growth
Expanding Communities and New Neighborhoods
Demographic Growth—Absolute and Relative Change
Spatial Growth—the Formation of New Neighborhoods
Haifa—the Political Context
Spheres of Cooperation and the Pull of Segregation
Social Relations
Municipal Relations
Economic Relations
Arab and Jewish Labor
Arab Labor
Jewish Labor
Wages and Differentials
To Conclude

Part II
In the Labor Market

Chapter 3
Construction—Competing at the Work Site

Construction—Fluctuation and Scope
Dilemmas of Organization
Wages and Competition
The Borowski Building
To Conclude

Chapter 4
Manufacturing Industry—Almost Separate

Trends in Manufacturing in Palestine
Jewish Industry
Arab Industry
Mutual Impact
Haifa—the Center of Heavy Industry
General Trends
Shemen and Nesher—Nahum Wilbush and Michael Pollak
The Tobacco and Cigarette Industry— Mabruk and Hajj Tahir Qaraman
When Working Together
The Nur Match Factory
The Nesher Quarry
Mosaica Tile Factory
To Conclude

Chapter 5
The Haifa Port—Entering the Gateway

The Haifa Port and the Issue of Jewish Labor
The Labor Force of the Haifa Port—Major Trends
Exporting the Citrus Crates
In the Customs Transit Shed
Working Together, Acting Together?
To Conclude

Chapter 6
The Palestine Railways: "Here We Are All Natives . . . "or the Limits of Cooperation

Trends in the Labor Force of the Palestine Railway
The Palestine Railway and Its Internal Organization
Wage and Conditions of Service
Joint Action and Joint Organization
Together Within a Histadrut-Oriented Organization, 1919-1927
The Joint Committee, 1928-1936
Two Organizations and Three Strikes, 1939-1947
To Conclude






Subject Index

Name Index

An interdisciplinary study discussing the impact of the national crisis in Mandatory Palestine on relations between Jewish and Arab workers and their respective labor movements.


Constructing Boundaries examines the competition, interaction, and impact among Jewish and Arab workers in the labor market of Mandatory Palestine. It is both a labor market study, based on the Split Labor Market Theory, and a case study of the labor market of Haifa, the center of economic development in Mandatory Palestine. Bernstein demonstrates the impact of the pervasive national conflict on the relations between the workers of the two nationalities and between their labor movements. She analyzes the attempts of Jewish workers to construct boundaries between themselves and the Arab workers, and also highlights cases of cooperation between Jewish and Arab workers and of joint class struggle.

Deborah S. Bernstein is Senior Lecturer at the University of Haifa. She is the author of Struggle for Equality: Women in Pre-State Israeli Society and is the editor of Pioneers and Homemakers: Jewish Women in Pre-State Israel, also published by SUNY Press.


"…an important contribution … " — Jewish Book World

"This is an exceptionally well-written book, very readable even while making a significant contribution to two literatures—both Split Labor Market theorizing and the Israeli historiography debate." — Joya Misra, University of Massachusetts–Amherst

"Bernstein has drawn on studies from a number of different disciplines—history, political science, economics, and geography, and she weaves them together into a compelling story of workers' lives and interactions in Haifa." — Donna Robinson Divine, Smith College