Between Two Homelands
Argentine Migration to and from Israel
Emigration from Israel to other parts of the world has not yet received significant scholarly attention, as the subject is a sensitive one in Israeli society. Zionist ideology has long compelled Israelis to approach emigration from Israel through a biased lens. The Hebrew words aliyah and yerida, which mean, respectively, “ascent” and “descent,” are often used to refer to immigration and emigration. These ideological terms, which are charged with religious meaning, are heavily loaded with praise for immigrants and scorn for emigrants. Yet, thousands of Jews from all over the world have lived between two homelands, as the Israeli-Argentine case demonstrates. This study challenges the formerly dominant Zionist narrative that presents immigration to Israel as unique and emigration as a disgrace, shedding light on issues of immigrant identities, belonging, and expectations.
Covering the better part of the twentieth century and extending into the twenty-first, Adrián Krupnik bases his study both on interviews and on archival documents in English, Spanish, and Hebrew to give voice to Argentine migrants to and from Israel. The pursuit of two often irreconcilable ways of living—peace and economic prosperity—repeatedly vexed migrants moving in either direction. Many Jewish-Argentine migrants between 1980 and 2006 lost everything and became the “new poor” in both countries. Protracted recessions and incessant political crises in Argentina continued to drive migrants in one direction, only to arrive in an Israel submerged in the violence of multiple intifadas.
In our own era, one that will see unprecedented global migration patterns based on similar economic and political—and environmental—upheavals, Between Two Homelands serves as an important and informative cautionary tale of the personal, social, and economic stakes at play in an utterly unsettled globalized landscape.
“The little-known case studies of the journals La Luz and Aurora, of Argentine and Israeli cartoons, as well as the case study of moshav Kochav Sobel, are some of the best parts of the book, illuminating microhistories, which allow us to see the general narrative in a close-up. Krupnik manages to uncover how individual actors benefited from the migration-influenced developments that began to shape their lives.”
—Mariusz Kałczewiak, author of Polacos in Argentina: Polish Jews, Interwar Migration, and the Emergence of Transatlantic Jewish Culture