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Bielefeld Graduate School
in History and Sociology
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Galit Schir

This study, of the relationship between the state of Israel and Israeli expatriates abroad, focuses on government policy targeting Israelis abroad. Such a focus allows a unique examination on the way diaspora is seen, discussed, and constructed in the home country and how this imagery is transformed abroad.

Using archival written documents, political committees? protocols, coverage of emigration in the Israeli media, as well as interviews and observations conducted both in Israel and abroad, I first explore the attitude change in the Israeli political discourse towards emigration and relationship to emigrants, and how normative approaches are translated into policy.

Noting the change in the rhetoric and terminology I argue that Israel's reaching out policy towards Israelis abroad reflects a re-definition of the boundaries of the national community outside, and also inside Israel. While the traditional Zionist narrative is still present (emigration as descent - Yerida) preferring life in Israel to that in the diaspora, a new narrative is also developing, one that accepts Israeli emigration and tries to institutionalize and direct the relationship of this community with the homeland.

Second, I examine the implementation of the state's diaspora engagement policy, analyzing the goals and activities of two government projects ? the "Israeli House" of the Israeli Ministry for Migration Absorption, and "Connecting" of the Israeli Ministry for Diaspora Affairs.

Contemplating and discussing not only the stated but also the latent functions of Israel's engagement abroad, I highlight the ways the home state shapes the diaspora and reaffirms its role in cross border nation building.

Studying the triangular relationship created abroad between state institutions, Jewish non-state agencies, and Israeli grass roots organizations abroad it seems that while being often beneficial for the state to reach its goals, this relationship may also be a source of tension within the inter-organizational cooperation around issues of national importance.

Potential for tension and conflict arise concerning the Jewish and Israeli character of the Israeli diaspora, the type of state-diaspora relations, the definition of Zionism, the meaning of a Jewish homeland for the diaspora, and the place of non-Jewish citizens within the national community.

The way Israel deals with these tension, will greatly determine the future of the Israeli diaspora and the relationship between the Jewish and the Israeli diaspora abroad.


Doctoral student, Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS), Bielefeld University, Germany.


  • MSc in "Comparative Studies in Migration, Ethnic Relations and Multiculturalism" (MERM), Utrecht University, the Netherlands; thesis title "The nature and causes of the ambivalent evaluation of Jews in the Russian Federation".


  • B.A. in Sociology, School of Sociology and Anthropology, Tel-Aviv University, Israel.
  • Study in the international student program for Jewish identity and leadership, American Jewish University (BCI), California, United States.
  • Venice International University, Italy. Student in the framework of external studies of Tel-Aviv University.

"Rothberg" High School, Ramat Hasharon, Israel, Emphasis Biology.

Military Service - Israel Defence Force (IDF)


  • Commanding officer, Education corps, rank of Lieutenant at release.

Professional and Academic Experience

  • 2008 - today - Coordinator of the youth Department of the Union for Progressive Jews in Germany (Union Progressiver Juden in Deutschland)
  • 2005-2007 Researcher in the Behavioural Science Research Institute of the Israeli Military (MAMDA) researching minority groups in the Israeli military, society - military relations, gender issues and various other projects.
  • 2005 - Research assistant in a research project on the "Birth Right" programs in Israel, conducted by Dr. Ted Sasson, the 'Cohen Institute', Brandeis University, United States.
  • 2003-2005 -Basketball coach of the women team in the "Utrecht Student Basketball Club" (S.B.U), Utrecht, the Netherlands.
  • 2002-2003 Hillel House, Tel Aviv University. Coordinator of the Overseas Students Program and intercultural activities. Founder of the "Panim El Panim" (face to face) program of video conferences between Tel-Aviv and UCLA University students.
  • 2001 - Research assistant to guest professor Dr. Stefan Kuehl in Sociology, Venice International University.
  • 1999-2001 Coordinator of the Education Committee of the project "Partnership Tel-Aviv Los Angeles" in the framework of the project "Partnership 2000", of the Jewish Agency. Coordination between the education departments of the Municipality of Tel-Aviv-Yaffo and the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, Schools, and parallel educational establishments.
  • 1997-1998 - Commanding officer in the training program for youth leaders in the IDF "Mahva Alon" training base.
  • 1995-1997 - Professional training in the areas of immigration, absorption of young Russian and Ethiopian "olim" (new immigrants to Israel), cooperating with welfare and youth services, and the Jewish Agency.

Presentations and Publications

  • Research presentation in the Israeli Military Behavioural Science professional conference, May, 2005.
  • Research presentation in the Israeli Sociological Association annual conference, February, 2006.
  • Research publication: "Motives for Military Service of Ethnic Minorities in Israel - The Case of Bedouin, Christian and Muslim Arabs", 'Bein Hazirot'; The Behavioural Science Journal of the Israeli Defence force', May, 2007.


  • 1995 - Outstanding trainee IDF commanders training course.
  • 2005 - Outstanding research officer, the Behavioural Science Research Institute of the Israeli Military (MAMDA)


Hebrew: mother tongue
English: fluent, on mother tongue level
German: good.

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Current volume InDi

Gefördert durch:

Exzellenzinitiative zur Förderung der Hochschulen
(1. Förderphase 2007-2012,
2. Förderphase 2012-2017)

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