SABRA – The Mythological Israeli

The term “Sabra” became part of Israeli society and culture. What happened to that prestigious status?

“Sabra” is a slang word, which became part of the official Hebrew language. The word used to describe Jewish Israeli-born.The word “Sabra” came from the Cactus plants, common in Israel. Why was this desert slant used in analogy with Israeli-born Jews? Because it implies on the perceived Israeli character: Stings on the outside yet soft and sweet inside.“Sabra” was first used at the beginning of the Zionist movement. It served to idol a new Jewish stereotype, opposite to the Jewish in exile. The “old” Jew spoke European languages or Hebrew with foreign accent., while the “Sabra” had Hebrew as mother tongue. The “old” Jews was defenseless, while the new “Sabra” was perceived as a warrior (First in the resistance and after the establishment of the Israel State – the IDF)

The immigrant pioneers acquiring expertise in the landscape of Palestiibe was a means of creating native identity. For the Sabra is was a status symbol meant to express the superiority of the natives over both the old generation and the new immigrants.

The Sociologist Oz Almog found that the name “Sabra” actually started as a bad name that the Jewish natives in Israel (First Aliyah) were referred to by new immigrants of the later Second and Third Aliyah immigration waves.

During the Independence war )1948) the “Sabra” was used as the desired stereotype for native Israelis, distinguishing them from the newcomers. The later 1956 war also fortified this “Sabra” image and myth.

Since the 1970’s the used of the term “Sabra” in Israeli culture has been declining and the myth around it vanished.

The glorious days of the “Sabra” resulted in a number of brands, which attempted to leverage on the myth. This was the origin for the Liquer Sabra, Sabra Sport (yes there was a Israeli Sports Car name “Sabra Sport”) and more.

 clip_image002   Common Sabra – The PlantA Sabra is actually a form of cactus, Opuntia ficus-indica, in the past known as a ‘prickly pear’ and now most often called a ‘cactus pear’. The fruit of the Sabra is thorny on the outside with a thick peel that must be removed, to get to the sweet meaty inside. The Hebrew name “Zabar” refers to the plant’s way of soaking and saving water as a way to endure long drought periods.


E-H Dictionary

English Ho pronounced Hebrew
Sweet Matok מתוק
Sting Kotz (im) קוץ/צים
Accumulate Tzover לצבור
Prestige Yukra יוקרה


3 Responses to SABRA – The Mythological Israeli

  1. Ferinannnd says:

    Честно говоря, сначала до конца не понял, но со второго раза дошло – спасибо!

  2. [...] More: SABRA – The Mythological Israeli | Hebrew Online Blog [...]

  3. Старый says:

    Однако, афтар голимо написал.

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