The Riddle of Community Resilience: Neighborhood Struggles for and against Clearance in Israel 1950s–1970s

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Resilience is a concept of concern to researchers of humanitarian disasters and crises as well as relief organizations and agencies. Compelling findings in recent studies demonstrate the centrality of social networks and connections, among individuals and groups, in powering rehabilitation processes after disasters and crises. Derived from this perspective is the concept of community resilience, based on Ozawa’s definition as groups and individuals working together to minimize the adverse consequences of crisis. This study aims to demonstrate that the postulate that communities can attain their objectives if only they “work together”, irrespective of their material resources, remains valid in situations of protracted crisis such as economic distress or lengthy struggle against economically or politically powerful elements. I wish to substantiate and prove this hypothesis by micro-historical reconstruction and analysis that sheds light on practices used by local neighborhood committees in view of protracted crises resulting from severe poverty and clearance plans. The article is based on two case studies harvested from the history of Israel. The first looks at Nahalat Ahim, a neighborhood in the southern segment of the Nahlaot cluster of neighborhoods in central Jerusalem, and the second, at the Shemen Beach (Hof Shemen) neighborhood of Haifa. The advantage of historical research, which by nature deals with matters already concluded, lies in its retrospective gaze on ways members of a community in crisis coped. An after-the-fact contemplation such as this, allows us to identify additional variables that may enhance our understanding of the community-resilience phenomenon in current contexts as well.

Original languageEnglish
Article number134
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2023


  • community organisations
  • community resilience
  • local leadership
  • neighbourhood committee
  • social capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (all)


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