Israel is a unique country in that it legislate a special law called "the return law" (1952), which promises that every Jew can immigrant to Israel and have an Israeli citizenship and rights automatically. On the other hand, this formal law does not guaranty that immigrants will get an equalitarian attitude in practical.
Racism is a common phenomenon among immigration countries all over the worled.
Xenophobia is a common trait among citizens who see immigrants as a threat to their well-being, employment, prejudice etc. This phenomenon is more salient against Ethiopian immigrants, due to their different skin color, religious customs, attribution of disease, like H.I.V.
Ethiopian Jews in Israel faced racism in everyday life which shocked them. They were sure that their brothers in Israel will embrace them, but instead, they were referred to the geographical peripheral of Israel, and they suffer from exclusion in every aspect of social life, including political, educational and employment areas.
In addition, after almost 30 years of migration, the Ethiopian Jews are still in the lower class of the Israeli society. There is no doubt that this, in turn, added to the despair of some Ethiopian men.
In fact, it is usually the women and children who are more prepared to explore to their new society and to acculturate, thus improving their status profoundly (Jin and Keat, 2010; Kasturirangan et al. 2004; Klevens, 2007; Morash et al. 2007; Raj and Silverman, 2002). This process results in a reversal of gender roles and statuses which set the women in high risk for violence and even murder by their husbands.
Culture transition among Ethiopians in Israel
In order to better understand the cultural transition among Ethiopians in Israel, we must compare the culture of origin to the Israeli culture and society. The gap between the two is a powerful tool towards understanding the occurrences of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and Intimate Partner Homicide (IPH) in this population (Azezehu-Admasu, 2011; Tavaje, 2011).
Social-cultural characteristics of Ethiopian Jews in Ethiopia
In Ethiopia, the Jews lived in rural communities that encompassed several households. The community was based on patriarchal and hierarchic relations. At the head of the socio-religious ladder were the 'kesim', who constituted the supreme spiritual leadership (Baharani Barahani 1990; Salomon 1987). At a lower level were the elders of the community ('shimglautz'), whose main function was to maintain the social order by intervention in cases of violation of the common norms. Conflict resolution was handled by arbitration, compromise and by means of orders given to the parties involved in the conflict. In addition, the elders functioned as counselors and mediators between couples, especially after a wife's appeal due to exceptional or prolonged violence by her husband (Kacen, 2006; Sulivan., Senturia., Negash.,, Shiu-Thornton and Giday, B. 2005; Gal, 2003, Kacen and Keidar, 2006; Azezehu-Admasu, 2011; Tavaje, 2011;Bodovsli et al. Bodowski et al. 1994; Finklestin and Solomon Finkrlstein & Solomon, Finklestin and Solomon Finklestin and Solomon 1995; salomon, 1987).
The communal world-view is that all community affairs belong to the community alone. By the same token, family affairs should be kept among family members, except, perhaps, for involving the elders. As a result, gossiping or telling others about spousal or family problems is considered to be deviant behavior. The same hierarchic structure found in the community was replicated in the family and, therefore, in both settings, the emphasis is on showing respect for the adults, in general, and for the parents, in particular (Weil, 1991; Kacen, 2006; Azezehu-Admasu, 2011; Tavaje, 2011).
The male/husband has a higher status, by definition, because he is a man. Gender roles are very strict, known and clear to everybody. The husband's main functions are supporting his family, disciplining his children and representing his family to outsiders. This supreme status of males also carries the uncompromising authority and dominion of the husband/father over his wife and children, and confers honor upon him, as expressed by the behaviors of his wife and children.
The duty of the wife was to obey her husband's will completely, including having sexual intercourse at his behest. Women functions included childbearing and taking care of the children and the household (Kacen, 2006; Wallach et al. 2010; Gal, 2003).
As part of a patriarchal culture, 'educating' a woman by violent means was considered normative behavior. This behavior seem fair and right in the eyes of the community, including its women (Azezehu-Admasu, 2011; Tavaje, 2011). If a wife argued with her husband, refused to fulfill his wishes or did not prepare his meals- all of these were considered legitimist justifications for wife-beating. In cases of extreme wife-beating or homicidal tendencies, the wife had two options: to escape and return to her original family or to appeal to the elders, so they might treat the violent husband. The elders' decisions were accepted as unquestionable orders. In cases where there was no other solution, the elders could order a divorce (Kacen, 2006).
In summary, spousal violence against a wife in a patriarchal society as in the case of Ethiopian families was considered to be normative behavior, when its purpose was to 'educate' the wife regarding her rigid gender role and functions. There were no other reasons for violence against wives, since there was no sexual jealousy or unfaithful behavior in the small communities with their strict social order (Bodovsky., David and Eran, Y. Bodowski et al. 1994; Dolev-Gendelman, 1989; Weil, 1991
1995; Minuchin-Itzikson, 1995;Szold Institution, 1986; Shabtai 1999; Ben Ezer, 1992; Edelstein, 2000; Azezehu-Admasu, 2011; Tavaje, 2011).
Culture differences, bureaucratic absorption and its consequences
There are tremendous differences between the Ethiopian and Israeli cultures as regards: religion, community life, the concept of time, leadership and family structure. In addition to the fact that many Ethiopian immigrants lacked the relevant education and professional skills in order to join modern Israeli society, their skin color and religious customs were further obstacles to their smooth integration into the absorbing culture (Edelstein, 2000; Kaplan and Salamon, 1998; Kacen, 2006).
The bureaucratic absorption to which the Ethiopian Jews were subjected was characterized by paternalism and cultural ethnocentricity (Herzog, 1998; Halper, 1985; Shabtai, 1999). In the case of the Ethiopians, these absorption centers worked precisely in favor of separation, alienation and bureaucratization. Because these immigrants were treated as being 'needy' or 'primitive', the civil servants were 'entitled' to: interfere in their lives, channel their connections and adopt determining functions, as they saw fit. This situation resulted in a disregard for the immigrants' culture of origin, a delay in their integration into the host society and enhanced their dependence on the absorbers (Herzog, 1992
1998). The stay in the absorption centers created ghettoization, secularization and a continued lack of relevant education and employment-skill training for their advancement and integration into Israeli society, along with manifestations of 'culture shock' (Minuchin-Itzikson, 1995). Decisions made concerning the geographic distribution of these immigrants and of their extended families were also prejudicial to their ability to integrate into the absorbing society. In fact, there is a high concentration of Ethiopian immigrants in socio-economically weak towns, creating 'pockets' of immigrants in weak neighborhoods (Posner, 1996), some even becoming 'black' ghettoes (Ben- Ezer, 1992).
The transfer to permanent housing created many problems, for example: the breakup of the extended families into nuclear families, exposing the couples, for the first time, to being distinct social units, accompanied by a loss of socio-economic and psychological recourses. One of the consequences was that wives were left alone to deal with their husbands' violence, losing the support previously provided by their extended families (Azezehu-Admasu, 2011;Tavaje, 2011).
Ethiopian's culture in transition
The Ethiopian community experienced three fundamental changes, further increasing the level of stress already inherent in the immigration process. In addition, these changes produced significant risk factors for IPV or IPH against wives.
First, the breakup of extended families into nuclear ones was caused by the dispersal of the original extended families and the separate placement of nuclear families at different locations in Israel, due to the availability of small apartments not suited to a large number of residents. In Ethiopia, the extended family aided and supported the couples. The breakup of this large social unit resulted in the loss of control, regulation and aid mechanisms for men and women alike. The forced transformation of these couples into unsupported nuclear families caused a lot of problems, e.g. women lost their family's support and/or could not run away from spousal violence, to seek refuge in their original families (Kacen, 2006; Sullivan, et al. et al. 2005; Sela-Shayovitz, 2010; Gal, 2003; Kacen and Keidar, 2006; Azezehu-Admasu, 2011; Tavaje, 2011).
The second change relates to the first one and deals with traditional institutions for help. After the immigration to Israel, the status of the 'kesim' and the elders decreased significantly. The Israeli Chief Rabbinate did not recognize the authority of the 'kes' to serve as rabbi. The authority of the elders also decreased, until their ability to maintain the 'old order' in Israeli society became very complicated. This phenomenon occurred in most of the ethnic enclaves where they lived, despite their many attempts to preserve the original culture.
Traditional institutions, like the extended family and the authority of the elders to intervene in marital conflicts, broke down on route and during the absorption process in Israel. As a result, the nuclear unit is more affected by each spouse and more influenced by general Israeli culture (Kacen, 2006; Sullivan et al. 2005; Sela-Shayovitz, 2010; Gal, 2003; Kacen and Keidar, 2006; Azezehu-Admasu, 2011; Tavaje, 2011).
The third and the main change relates to the integration process into Israeli society. Acculturation has implications not only for the individual who undergoes it, but also for his/her relations with others who have not yet acculturated and/or are at a different stage in the process (Scott and Scott, 1989).
Immigrants from Ethiopia lack formal education and professional skills. As a result, the rate of unemployment among them is very high. In addition, Ethiopian men are unemployed for several more reasons: old age, an unwillingness to work at 'shameful' jobs, and due to the preference of women in unskilled jobs. As a result the chances for Ethiopian men for successfully acculturate into Israeli society are lower than those of Ethiopian women. In recent years, there has even been a decrease in men's employment, while there is an increase in women's employment (Israeli Association for Ethiopian Jews, 2007). A big effort was made in Israel to empower Ethiopian women by encouraging them to learn Hebrew and to find jobs; yet, no such efforts were made with Ethiopian men (Azezehu-Admasu, 2011; Tavaje, 2011).
The Israeli social-cultural and socio-economic reality has significantly changed the layout of gender roles in relation to the different acculturation paths taken by Ethiopian men and women and/or their being at different stages in the acculturation process. The acculturation process that these women undergo puts them in contact with a more attractive socio-cultural reality than that they had in Ethiopia. They are ones who receive child and other welfare benefits in their bank accounts. They meet well-placed professional Israeli working women, who become their role models. Israeli women 'open the Ethiopian women's eyes', as it were, by explaining to them that spousal violence against them is a punishable crime (Shuval, 1979; Kacen, 2006; Sela-Shayovitz, 2010; Kacen and Keidar, 2006; Azezehu-Admasu, 2011; Tavaje, 2011).
In addition, the higher level of Ethiopian women in the acculturation process exposes them to more egalitarian socio-cultural norms in relation to gender roles and interpersonal relationships in Israel. These new revelations seem much preferable to their situation in the traditional patriarchal enclaves. The speedy and successful integration of Ethiopian women into Israeli society creates more cases of men's dependence on their wives, who serve as mediators between their husbands and Israeli society. For Ethiopian couples, this is a profound cultural upheaval, creating bad consequences for men's status and women's safety.
For a husband raised in a 'machoistic' culture, in which he was the sole breadwinner and the one who decided the family budget- the transfer of these functions to his wife significantly threatens not only his status as the man of the house, but his own self-perception and public image. Cooley (1902) in his 'looking-glass self' theory, said that: "The individual is not what he thinks about himself, he is neither what others think about him, but the individual is what he thinks that the others think he is" (famous paraphrase). In other words, an Ethiopian man fears the loss of status not only within his own nuclear family, but also among other Ethiopian men, who may treat him with disrespect, although they suffer from the same problem. The resulting sense of insecurity has even caused a significant decline in the ability of Ethiopian men to make decisions. Many have become the 'passive' partner in the couple, waiting for their wives to come home from work (Bodowski., David and Eran, 1990; Kacen, 2006; Azezehu-Admasu, 2011; Tavaje, 2011).
The familiar way for Ethiopian men to preserve their traditional status and to put women 'in their place' is by using those tools they learned in their origin culture, i.e. using violence against them. Although violent wife abuse is generally under-reported to the Police in Israel, an overwhelming percentage those reports are made by abused Ethiopian women (Sela-Shayovitz, 2010).
For Ethiopian men, acculturation means giving up the superior status to women in several areas and a significant loss in personal and social power. As such, the Ethiopian men were not sufficiently motivated to enter Israeli society and their process of acculturation was profoundly damaged. This is an example of 'rational choice theory (Cohen and Felson, 1979), which claims that individuals will choose the possibility that will bring them maximum profit and minimum loss.