Sample History Topic: WadiSalib Riots in Haifa






3.Historical Background





WadiSalib Riots in Haifa, Israel in 1959

Riots in the Arab world have been a phenomenon rooted in History. History traces Arab riots since the 1920’s. The British occupation of Balfour territory created tension with the Arabs who were the inhabitants of the place. Thus, when the British prompted Balfour Declaration, The Arabs expressed their dissatisfaction through violence to show the British that variability in Israel was an important feature. The existence of Jewish and Palestine in Israel was not peaceful thus, the Arab’s riots between the factions went a step further in 1929 after the fourth Aliyah.




The first factor leading to bitterness in the region was the British brutality. The Arabs had cited that the Jews Immigration, and a huge piece of land acquisition led to their displacement and contributing to their job loss (Kimmerling, 2005, p.37). Their influence on major decisions in the country was also being reduced. The riots were further enhanced by rumors that Jews were planning to initiate a synagogue near the western wall. These riots ignited the removal of Hebron’s indigenous Jewish community (the present day Israel) and making Arabs in Arab world to adopt radicalism (Kimmerling, 2005, p.27).



In this research, the WadiSalid Riots in Haifa is analyzed in detail using two major theory models; consociational democracy and dominant party theory. These riots occurred in the year 1959 (Elazar, 1989, p.190). WadiSalib riots were a sort of street demonstration, which characterized activities of vandalism in WadiSalib, Haifa, in present day Israel (Peretz, & Gideon, 148). This was because of ethnic profiling centered towards the Mizrahi Jews.




Perhaps we can ask ourselves, to what extend did WadiSalib riot linked with the two political theories of political models. By embracing literature review, the writer will help unravel the puzzle. This research paper will be divided into four major parts; theoretical, historical background, analysis and conclusion.

2. Theoretical

Consociational Democracy Model

Politics have changed in recent times. In the West, political scientists were engulfed with copious explanations about how the political structures could be streamlined to strengthen democracy and stability. Their main drive to initiate changes in the political arena was motivated by the need to have a new political order after the World War II.




The need to curb the spread of the war to Western part of Europe, which was occupied by communism, and offer support to newly democratic countries in the developing world was another contributor to the need for changes in politics. In comprehending the elements of stability and political sovereignty, the political scientists ascertained that political fragmentation presented the society with major barriers in embracing democracy and stability (Lijphart, 1975, p.144). They viewed that political cleavage established a differing ethnic, social, cultural and religious segments thus they had to overcome them before any possibility of democratic and stable system could be anchored. Over time, Dutch Arendlojphart has endeavored to challenge this belief. The publication; The Politics of Accommodations; Pluralism and Democracy in The Netherland, of 1968 spoke primarily of Dutch politics as a kind of baffling case involving resilient social investigation and polarization. The publication also earmarked democracy and stability (Lijphart, 1975, p.144). This was in contrast to the needed expectations; Netherlands was and is still autonomous and stable in spite of the existence of extensive social cleavage.




Lijphart’s understandings of Dutch politics have not only become ubiquitous among the non- Dutch political scientists who have interests in Dutch politics but they have become significant as laying a mainstay in the Theory of Convocational democracy which occupies a center-stage in world politics. However, Lijphart’s impression of Dutch politics have encouraged a number of criticism because they have not been fully authenticated and especially on Consociation democracy. The criticisms of his works have been widely published in different journals. It is important to observe Lijphart’s opinion on various aspects of Dutch politics.




One of Lijpharts view on Dutch politics of accommodation are elaborately espoused in the first pages of his book of Politics of accommodation when he says that, the Netherlands represents an exceptional example of a successful democracy which is real and stable. This is a complex paradox that stimulates great debate. Lijphart works assess the Dutch politics, which have lasted more than 50 years. It begins in the year around 1917 when three major issues such as; schools, social and universal suffrage was on the increase thus this issues divided the country.




History traces the Dutch Society as having four distinct divisions rather than united social alignments, popularly known as "Zuilen” pillars. These divisions are anchored on class and religious cleavage. On the religious front, cleavage exists in two perspective i.e. the religious and non-religious. In addition, within religious groupings, we have the Calvinists and Catholics making about forty percent respectively in the 1960’s. Calvinists are further subdivided in several minor segments ranging from orthodox, Lutherans, Dutch Reformed (Lijphart, 1975, p.146). Lijphart further elaborates class cleavage in relation to lower, upper middle cleavages endured by Gini Index of Inequality and the anomalous spirits of prejudice being perceived by the general public surging (Lijphart, 1975, p.144). Lijphart explains that the two mentioned cleavages transect each other especially in the secular echelon, where resentment exist between the lower and upper classes. In the Dutch politics, they have labeled as Socialists and liberals respectively.




The strong relationship existed between the four pillars i.e. Socialists, Catholics, Liberals and Calvinists were strained in 1917 because of social issues. Different groups had different demands from the state. For instance, Calvinists and the Catholics wanted their own schools fully financed by the Dutch government. Besides, Economic issues such as unemployment and poverty were strongly advocated by the lower classes (Lijphart, 1975, p.145). These situations created a vacuum within the four pillars hence creating major divisions in the country and tension within the Catholic pillar, In Catholic religion, and class cleavage was less bloated.




The social pillarization was also echoed in the party structures. Each mentioned groupings had their own political parties except the Calvinist who in other means had two opposing parties i.e the lower class and the upper class. The major five parties of these four blocks dominated the political scene in Holland. They had between 80 and 90 percent of seats in parliament (Lijphart, 1975, p.145-146). Their persistence force has remained since the first election done under joint manhood suffrage in 1918.




Lijphart distinguishes six conducive conditions necessary for success of consociation democracy. These favorable conditions are; the balance of influence among the divisions, multiparty system with divisions parties, small size of the country, cross cutting cleavages, predominant allegiances, an all-inclusive party system, isolation of the divisions from one another and the conventional of elite accommodation. These basics are not specific for consociation democracy but sometimes can be missing in some consociation democracies surging (Lijphart, 1975, p.146). Nevertheless, they are important in the present in that they improve the chances of democracy and stability in a plural society.




Besides, Lijphart also explores unfavorable conditions, uncertain factors and counter consociation essentials that can be applied in specific countries. Lijphart outlines specific examples in individual categories. Some consequences in the developing world such as decreasing obedience and rising expectations are regarded as unfavorable. Factors of country size and the balance of power within the divisions or segments are termed as doubtful. Moreover, the pressures exerted by colonialists such as Belgium on its former colonies such as Congo to form an all-inclusive government regarded as counter-consociation (Lijphart, 1975, p.153).




Dominant Party Theory Model

Mapai, a left wing political party formed in 1930, dominated Israel. This party dominated Israel politics for a long time before it finally merged with the Israel labor party in 1968. Duverger, (1963, p.308) asserts that, the dominance of a party if tested by its influence on policies to the society rather than its strength lies with the public opinion hence they are the ones who determines its legitimacy. He further explains that the dominance of a party s influenced by public perceptions and this plays an important role in determining those who rule or govern. Domination of a party is not anchored on its structures of self –contained developments but encompasses an "open” interaction to surge its influence. Duverger, (1963, p.309) asserts that, the domination of a party may involve alternation which creates stability or leftist which modifies the parties original structures. In a country where more than one party exists, there is a swing of alternations whereby in each successive elections, an alteration is witnessed where stability is realized (Duverger, 1963, p.309). Duverger (1963, p.312), explains that, the strength of a party sometimes wears down when its ideologies fails to be re-invented, in such a case, merging or forming coalitions is an important factor to ensure it survives extinction.



3. Historical Background

Demonstrations have been held repeatedly in the society by people in favor of a political or an alternate cause. Mass action has been an important element in the push for democracy. Demonstration and mass action have existed since the 19th century. Thus, riots have been used as an activism tool for showing either positive or negative issue in relation to a major social issue engulfing the majority. Mostly, riots have been used to address issues of social, political and economic nature (Kimmerling, 2005, p.106).




The party present at this time was Mapai. Mapai was a party founded in 1930 because of merger with HapoelHatzairv established by A. D. Gordon. In 1920s, the Labor Zionist movement led to the formation of Histadrut Union. The Union conquered the Hebrew settlement economy and infrastructure thus eventually making Mapai, a dominant political party in Zionism politics (Kimmerling, 2005, p.191). Hence, it was a powerful force behind the establishment of Hashomer and Haganah. Hashomer and Haganah were the first two armed Jewish groups that protected people’s property from the nascent Jewish communities. In early 1930’s, David Ben-Gurion had seized the leadership of the party thus becoming a de-facto trailblazer of the Jewish community in Yishuv, present day Palestine (Kimmerling, 2005, p.63).




Because of its role in the victories and independence from Arab-Israel war of 1948, the party received huge support, this can be shown from its first elections in 1949 in which the party garnered 35.7% of the total votes compared to 14.7% of the Mapai’s party (Peretz& Gideon, 1997, p.4). Labor party managed to secure 46 of the 120 seats. Ben-Gurion assumed the prime minister position forming an alliance with United Religious front, Sephardin and Oriental Communities, Progressive party and Israeli party (linked to Mapai) (Peretz& Gideon, 1997, p.87).





The elections, which occurred in 1951, increased the party’s support to 37.3% of the total votes, this translated to 47 seats, despite of the nation’s economic challenges. Ben-Gurion formed the government with backing from Mizrachi, Agudat of Israel and 3 of Mipai’s parties. However, Ben-Gurion resigned in 1953, and Moshe Sharett (Kimmerling, 2005, p.73) took his leadership. Mapai party experienced the first decline in its support in the 1951 elections as it recorded only 32.2% and a total of 40 seats, though it was ahead of Herut which had 12.6%, BenGurio emerged as a prime minister thus forming an alliance with National Religious front, it later changed its name to national religious party (Elazar, 1989, p. 218). The emergence of Ben-Gurion and other mergers contributed to its strength, as it was evidenced in 1959 elections. The party recorded good electoral performance garnering 38.2% and 47 seats. Other parties such as progress and Development and Cooperation and brotherhood were invited. The Lavon Incident contributed in bringing down the government in 1961 thus, it is viewed that, this contributed to the party dismal performance in elections, which occurred in the same year (Krausz&Glanz, 1985, p.221). In spite of, Ben-Gurion forming a coalition government with other parties, two events that occurred during the fifth Knesset contributed in Mapai’s declining influence. These events were; Ben-Gurion resigning as the head of the party citing personal reasons and forming another party, Rafi. The other thing was that two leading right wing opposition parties, liberal and Herut merged to form Gahal; this signified the end of Knesset era, since Mapai had 34 seats compared to 27 of Gahal (Aronoff, 1993, p.160).



Mapai’s response to the strength of the opposition was to seek support from other parties, which had similar ideologies, thus an alliance with AhdutHaAvoda to establish Labor Alignment prior to 1965 elections. The new party received much support thus gaining 36.7% of 45 seats. Later, HaAvoda and Rafi merged to form Israel labor party thus ceasing to exist as separate elements (Yiftachel& Meir, 1998, p. 230).




WadiSalib rebellion was one of the riots that erupted in present day Israel. It is a revolt, which was instigated by discrimination and poor policies of Mipai leadership structure. The riot erupted in Wadisalib area of Haifa in 1959. Many reasons can be attributed to its outbreak. One of the reasons was that, many immigrants who had migrated in Israel several years earlier had suppressed resentment with the ruling party, they did want political sovereigntySharfman (1993, p.64), although this was later granted, they North Africans representative was chosen on boards of various political parties. Another reasons leading to WadiSalibriot was lack of adequate background knowledge in Zionism and democratic procedures. Consequently, the surge of political elites in economic statues created inequality balance with the poor, particularly the immigrants, thus, the riot was a buildup due to inequality in terms social divideSharfman (1993, p.64).The WadiSalib was characterized by a series of street protest and hooliganism in Wadi neighborhoods. The important point to note is that, the riot was about social issues coined on ethnic discrimination. The rebellion was against the Labor party, Mapai that that governed Israel during this time. The major significant event preceding this riot was a wadi resident, Yaakov Elkarif, of WadiSalib being confronted by a police in 1959 (Elazar, 1989, p. 190,the resident is believed to have been drunk thus behaving wildly and threatening peace present in the area. To restore peace and order, the police shot the victim on the leg. The resident engulfed the police vehicle and hurled the police out. The incident resulted into massive gatherings and an argument for violence was advanced (Shafi&Yoavi, 2000, p.64). The police commander of a local police post came to calm the crowd and restore peace, but this proved unsuccessful. The man who was shot died and demonstrations began in small gatherings, and later translating into full riots. The riots spread to the neighboring, carmel and hadar with violent actions such as throwing stones, barricading streets, looting and igniting cars. The riots also targeted nightclubs in Mapai and the Histadrut, the congress of trade unions. By embracing the power of force, the police were wounded and a significant number of demonstrators arrested. Similarly, the war spread rapidly to larger residents of bigger communities of North Africa such as MigdalHaEmek, Tiberias and Beersheba. The police alleged that, the riot was not pre-planned but was spontaneous. They linked the movement to, likudYotseiTsfon-africa, the Union of African Immigrants advanced (Shafi&Yoavi, 2000, p.80). Major participants in the movement such as David Ben-Haroush were detained. He participated in the proceeding elections while in jail by using the Union ticket, though the Union failed to underscore the electoral acumen. The riots were adversely publicized internationally necessitating the King of Morocco to express his concern for the plight of Israel’s North African Immigrants (Kimmerling, 2005, p.106).




The WadiSalib remains an echo in the society of Israel. It reminds the society of the social injustice in the initial years that prompted clashes between the Mizrahi and Ashkenazi Jews.




4. Analysis

The model of dominance party can better fit in Israel context. Mipai was a dominant party during this time; hence, its political decisions influenced the wider society… asserts that, the dominion of a political party has stabilizing influence and can slow or turn its influence in the directions which deem favorable. The inference of Wadisalib riots process, the political inclination cannot be overlooked. Sharfman (1993, p.64) point out the political ideologies, culture and stability has necessities of building mutual and social co-existence of any given state. This factor plays a key role in limiting a void between the governor and the governed. Hence, in Israel, these factors contributed to widening the gap between the two mentioned groups. They lead to widening a gap in terms of ideologies and practices and increased divisions in the society with an intention of containing votes. Ideological profiling was substituted by profiling individual’s symbols. For instance, Ben-Gurion was identified by achievement as affirmed by Sharfman (1993, p.64). The influence of profiling was not restricted to this period alone, it went beyond 1960s. The political adaptations of younger immigrations were influenced to overlook democratic culture and embrace "strong man”. Consequently, they avoided reality of embracing the human right issue and had no safeties in political democracySharfman (1993, p.64).


The Consociational Democracy model which elaborates that failing to have proper democratic stability can create divisions in the country. This is because; it leads to grouping of political parties thus encouraging social pillarization. This leads to social inequality and creates tension. This has been evidently witnessed and a contributory reason for outbreak of WadiSalib riot.



Thus,Wadi rebellion was because of social injustice that was commonly happening in the society. The regime or the upper-class elites, those who were in authority suppressed the voice of the lower-class citizen in the society. Thus, lack of effective instruments to address this social injustice to the relevant authority proved futile (Reich &Gerishon, 1993, p. 92). It can be alleged that, social inequality and the huge divide that existed in Israel world between the rulers and the ruled left no room in addressing equality and commonness across the society stratum. The Mipai party, the party forming the regime of the time used all available means to suppress the openness and failed to address the fundamentals of the society (Kimmerling, 2005, p.73). The shooting and ultimately killing of the innocent man and propagating the blame to the immigrants from other North African Countries and discrimination policies shows the nature of suppressed regimes with democratic space for its citizens (Yiftachel& Meir, 1998, p. 141).




The Mipai undermining the political organization that ensued after the riots shows how political regimes lack democratic space for its citizens to express their free will of expression on issues important to national building (Kimmerling, 2005, p.197). Thus, the party accusing blames to the immigrants shows the propaganda type of politics of which dominant parties exercise to stay on power.




Sharfman (1993, p.8), political parties tend to bring about peace and stability where it governs. The labor party, which was the ruling party, had lost its grip with the society. It had failed to address the social injustices affecting the people such as discrimination, police brutality, maintaining law and order and othersSharfman (1993, p.4). The strength or the dominance of a party encompasses all facets, which helps to address issues affecting the governed. Hence, over time, it outdoes other parties by gaining significance appreciation of the society. Besides, the dominance of a party is anchored on its principles anchored on its political development. According to Peretz and Gideon (1997, p. 74), the material and sociological factors of a party are the facets in which a political party is identified within the society.




Sharfman (1993, p.60) discusses in detail the social inequality that existed in Israel during this time. He affirms that 11% of Israel households were extremely poor. Sharfman (1993, p.58)words were met with outrage from his colleagues by noting that Israel as an Egalitarian country in the world has poor people. Subsequent reports carried by different bodies such as national Insurance Institute still have received slightly received a similar poverty rate i.e. 12% existing among Israelis. All the reports have ascertained the correctness of Sinai (2008) report, which attests that about 12% of Israelis are below the poverty line. During the Sinai (2008) time, the poverty gap was slightly lower hence; it was in contrast of the present situation. Inequality persisted in the society. Huge gaps existed in relation to salaries and other basic utilities advanced (Shafi&Yoavi, 2000, p.124). The salaries of government employees were slightly higher compared to other paid employees of those times. It is sad that when newspapers reported Mipai owned a three and a half room apartment, they almost killed him (Sinai, 2008).




ShlomoSwirski of Advanced centre again represents inequality in Israel family for Equity and Social Justice. He reflects that, in 1960, when he was working for a private contractor dong earthwork, he used to earn a mere 400 Israel lira a month, whereas his supervisor earned double than him (Reich &Gerishon, 1993, p. 25). In spite of discrimination and the misery of transit camps against the North African Immigrants, which contributed to the Wadisalib rebellion, and the formation of the Black Pathers in 1970s, efforts to achieve equality was candid(Sinai, 2008). Indication from the state showed signs of austerity and rationing, which were fashioned in ensuring equality. Every member in the society received an equal share of margarine and oil, number of shoes and furnishing, same quantity of foreign currency (Sinai, 2008).




According to Sharfman (1993, p.57), the process to create employment in the 1960s was boosted by building infrastructures such as the national water carrier hence improving the lives of Israel middle class. Besides, the immigrants who immigrated to Israel, i.e. mostly from North Africa Europe came with nothing in more than 20 years later, a whopping 75 of them became homeowners in mid-1980’s, majority of them had cleared off their mortgages and bank debts. This was the because of revamped after the Wadisalib rebellion (Peretz& Gideon, 1997, p.148).




The initial years lead to the formation of state welfare organizations established in 1954 albeit, safety initiatives were also formed this creating a scheme to fold the economic gap and propelled until present. As attested by Pedahzu, after the riots, there were tremendous commitment in the Israel society in nation building and recognition of immigrants (2002, p 112). The widening gap in opportunities and upward morbidity was closed, thus, however; this led to the feeling of alienation from immigrants. The recession, which occurred in 1966 contributed to the weakening of Ashkenazis and provided opportunities for immigrants from the Middle East (Kimmerling, 2005, p.6). Moreover, the war of 1967, which lasted for over four years, led to decrease in poverty hence narrowing the social voids (Pedahzu, 2002, p 32). This is attributed to social reforms effected such as; unemployment insurance, child allowances, disability allowances and old-age allowances. This played an important element in uplifting the living standards above the poverty line.



The Consociational Democracy and Dominant models are relevant in analyzing this case; consociation theory outlines formation of cleavages and groupings thus, each group champions for recognition and its rights in a democratic open state. Cleavages where they occur provide a challenge in governance, as the case was in Israel.We see the consociation theory in practice during the time of the riot. Dominance model encourages fuller participation of the party with greater influence in making important decisions. Thus, because of comprehensive structure and system of organizations, the dominant party theory represents the wider needs of the society hence gaining the support it needs as we have seen the Mipai party. However, because Israel was emerging or a young democracy, where established structures were not strong, the theories mentioned failed in a way to appropriately meet the required threshold of society. This may because of weak party and ideology structures, leadership rivalry and limited support from the wider society.



In my opinion, I feel that, the two aforementioned theories felt short of encompassing a wider society participation in a political process,hence restricting space for special interests groups to be represented in Israel. These fixed powerful party structures which failed to meet the threshold of the society in terms of security, rights and freedom of minority against the will of majority. A system which could address these issues would be befitting in this case.




The five major conceptualization in our present society are; pluralism, democracy, stability, accommodations and the favorable conditions. These ideas have strongly been ingrained in Lijpharts theory. They play an important role in helping the society to understand the plural politics of different societies.



Lijphart sees a society as plural if it is made up of segmental cleavages. He ascertains that, every society exposes its culture of diversity through class, language or through other alternatives. Besides, Duverger affirms that, the dominance of a party is greatly influenced by its policies and ideologies rather than its own strength; these issues are measured by public opinions, which determine its legitimacy to govern or rule.


Reference List

Duverger, M. (1963).Political Parties: Their Organization and Activity In The Modern State. London: Taylor & Francis

Elazar, D. J. (1989). The Other Jews: The Sephardim Today. New York: Basic Books

Kimmerling, B. (2005). The Invention and Decline OfIsraeliness: State, Society, and the Military California: University of California Press

Krausz, E. Glanz, D. (1985).Politics and Society in Israel. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers

Lijphart, A. (1975). The Politics of Accommodation. California: University Of California

Pedahzu, A. (2002). The Israeli Response to Jewish Extremism and Violence: Defending Democracy. Manchester: Manchester University Press

Peretz, D. & Gideon, D. (1997). The Government and Politics of Israël. Colorado: Westview Press

Reich, B. &Gershon, R. K. (1993). Israel, Land Of Tradition and Conflict. Colorado: Westview Press

Shafi, G. &Yoav, P. (2000).The New Israel: Peacemaking and Liberalization. Colorado: Westview Press

Sharfman, D. (1993). Living Without a Constitution: Civil Rights in Israel. New York: M. E. Sharpe

Sinai, R. (2008). When Equality Was A Goal. Retrieved from

Yiftachel, O. & Meir, A.(1998). Ethnic Frontiers and Peripheries: Landscapes of Development and Inequality in Israel. Colorado: Westview Press




Place your Order NOW!