, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 285-308
Date: 18 Sep 2012

North Americans, Israelis, or Jews? The Ethnic Identity of Immigrants’ Offspring

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Using a sample of 206 Israeli migrants’ offspring in North America, who filled in questionnaires and 34 in-depth interviews, this article examines the components and indicators of ethnic identity and identification of the offspring of Israelis in North America, by immigration generation. Are their identities and social network local, meaning that they lead to integration and assimilation, or are they diasporic and transnational, positioned somewhere between North America and Israel? The main findings of this study illuminate complex and dynamic patterns of identity components and the factors that affect them. Generational affiliation, i.e., second generation immigrants compared to those of the 1.5 generation, had a considerable effect on the various indicators of identity and identification. Members of the 1.5 generation are more inclined than second generation immigrants to maintain transnational or diasporic relations and to experience a splitting of identity and estrangement toward the destination society. Second-generation participants, feel “at home” in the destination country and are more inclined to assimilate into their proximal host Jewish group and the non-Jewish majority This study makes its main contribution by distinguishing between second and 1.5-generation Israeli immigrants in regard to the re-construction of their ethnic identity. It also contributes to understanding the effect of agents of socialization, on the dynamic patterns of this identity in its various dimensions.