Mediating between Citizens and a New State: The History of Shurat Ha-mitnadvim
Authors: P. Kabalo
Publication Year: 2008
Journal: Israel Studies
Shurat ha-Mitnadvim was founded in the winter of 1951-1952 by students from the Hebrew University as a volunteer organization promoting norms of good citizenship by furthering the social integration of new immigrants and exposing prodigality and corrupt practices in the public sector. Shurat ha-Mitnadvim offered a structural and ideological alternative to the dominant model of civil organizing that persisted from the Yishuv (pre-statehood) to the early statehood period, which was accepted with relative tolerance during most of Shurat ha-Mitnadvim's years of activity. At a certain stage, however, it found itself in a head-on confrontation with the state authorities that it criticized and with political parties and other national-level suborganizations (the Jewish Agency and the Federation of Labor in Israel). These institutions regarded themselves as the main mediators between the citizen and the governing authorities and therefore as more "legitimate" than Shurat ha-Mitnadvim. The whole affair and its main characteristic, the novelty of the challenge that it expressed, and the reverberations that the activity of a civil-society organization sent through the reality of a young, self-defensive democracy, are the focal points of this article.