Contested bodies: Medicine, public health and mass immigration to Israel.

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The State of Israel was established in May 1948. By its eighth Independence Day, the small country, with a population of only 600,000 Jews, faced the formidable task of absorbing over
1,000,000 new immigrants. Some of these immigrants were Holocaust survivors in poor health, and many others came from Yemen, North Africa, Iraq and India, where they had suffered chronic malnutrition and extremely high mortality rates. Despite arduous economic conditions and the lack of infrastructure in health, education and housing, and despite the poor health status of many immigrants, all epidemics were contained. Confident in the justice and necessity of their science, the approaches of health care workers to the immigrants’ bodies were acts that were often foreign and traumatic to the immigrants, who came from different cultures and medical traditions. The aim of this article to explore how the Israeli health care system of the 1950s approached the immigrants’ bodies and how these medical policies and practices were perceived by the immigrants and shaped their identities and attitude toward the State. We examine this
topic through the examples of medical selection of immigrants, vaccination policy, ringworm irradiation, and isolation and treatment of immigrants at theShaarHa’aliya (Gate of Immigration) camp.
Original languageEnglish GB
Pages (from-to)35-58
JournalHAGAR: Studies in Culture, Polity Identities
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006


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