Qualitative Description of 6 Israeli Youth Subcult

Jump on this page: 1
Mr. Keith Lawrence Goldstein



The following is a basic description of 6 Israeli Youth Subcultures. These descriptions are hypotheses based on qualitative interviews and field work. The comments of native Israelis would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks.

A Qualitative Description of Each Subculture


Ars- Ars is a derogatory term often used to describe an Israeli male who exhibits primitive behavior. Arsim(plural) most often refer to groups at the lower end of Israeli society, the degradation of Jewish culture in Israel. Ars was a term used earlier in Israeli linguistics perhaps dating back to the 1950s. The term then referred specifically to someone as a derogatory expression, but it wasn't a nickname for a person.Outside of Israel, the term today is common in the Arab world, but it is more often associated with someone who is literally a pimp.Arsim often speak Arabic-influenced/accented Hebrew, but are ironically very anti-Arab. It has been suggested that the Ars shares similarities with prior negative stereotypes used against Mizrahim that have fallen out of fashion: Frenk, Pushtak, Morrokai-sakin, Chakhchakh, and others. (Shifman, Goldstein) It is rare that one will admit that he is an Ars, because saying you are an Ars is like calling yourself stupid or disgusting. It is often suggested that in modern times youth disassociate the term Ars from its pejorative ethnic connotations. A major question of this research is whether Arsim are still largely determined by ethnic belonging.


Freha- The Freha is often viewed as the counterpart to the Ars, although the stereotype is distinct. Freha is a derogatory term often used to describe anIsraeli female who exhibits bimbo-like behavior. One is identified as a Freha for having tacky fashion statements, loud and obnoxious speech patterns, and crude behaviors. Offshoots of the Freha include the most recent Fakatsa stereotype (Weisman???). This stereotype is of the childish Frehot (plural for Freha), Ktanot (small), Tsakaniot (screaming). The stereotype of the Freha gained notoriety around the same period as the Ars, especially through TV broadcasts and Burekas (genre of comedy) films. For example, the character of Limor in the Israeli comedy show "Only in Israel" is described in terms of her Freha qualities (see Bar'am 2006). Similar to the Ars, it is often claimed that the Freha is an ethnic stereotype. However, youth today will often not associate the Freha as being of a specific ethnicity.

Hnuun (nerd) - Hnuun literally comes from the verb Hnan, meaning endowed with talent or intelligence. However, the slang meaning of the term includes negative connotations of being a wimp, square, and a teacher's pet.  A variation of Hnuun is also Hnana, although the exact difference between the two terms is not clear or changes by location. The Hnuun (hereinafter nerd) stereotype is generally synonymous with the American nerd, although there appear to be certain differences. Some of the metaphors for the American nerd that are associated with ‘dorkiness' may not necessarily hold in Israel. Most of the nerd's traits deal specifically with studying. It has also been suggested that Israeli nerds are associated with Ashkenazi ethnicities or higher-economic classes. The nerd is not a new stereotype, and it may share correlations with the Yeke, Zvuzvu, and other historical stereotypes of Ashkenazim in Israeli society. TV characteristics of the nerd in Israel have existed for a long time. An offshoot of the nerd is the stereotype of Freier (Reingold and Feige ???), who is someone you can take advantage of.


Freak- The Israeli freak may be a punk, a goth, a burnout, a social outcast, or a number of other different characters. Some of the stigmas often associated with young freaks are being a school drop-out, having piercings, dyeing one's hair, and using hard drugs. The freak supposedly does not have good relations with his parents, teachers, or peers. Israeli university students told me how the freak used to be more of a hippy. In contrast, elderly Israelis commented that freaks represent a crisis period of rebellion that many youth experience during the tumultuous teenage years when hormonal energy is high. A modern offshoot of the freak is the Emo (short for emotional), a subculture of online fanatics who dress in black, have abnormal hair styles, and express themselves online through chat groups and blogs. Most of the qualities discussed about the freak were negative. However, it was suggested during qualitative interviews with youth in rural locations that the freak is actually a “stylist” (fashionable). It is supposed that the freak lives in urban areas, a hypothesis that is challenged in my analysis.


Tsfoni– Tsfoni literally means northerner in Hebrew, but it appears to initially have beeen used to describe a stereotype of people from northern Tel Aviv. It shares an affiliation with the American terms of snob and yuppy, and shares similarities with bourgeoisie around the world. The Tsfoni has a lot of money and is spoiled by his or her parents. Hence, it is assumed that Tsfonim move on to good educations and jobs, retaining a higher social class. The Tsfoni is one of the least understood stereotype, as it can have different connotations for someone from Tel Aviv and those from other parts of the country. The term is also confused as Tsfoni doesn't always mean someone who is relatively from the North. It appears that the Tsfoni is the diametrical opposite of the Ars and Freha, probably sharing a lot of similarities with the Nerd. During qualitative interviews it was rarely suggested that there exists an ethnic correlation with Tsfonim, but it seems logical that such a correlation exists.


Satlan (Stoner)- Satlan (hereinafter stoner) literally comes from the verb Lehitmastel (to become wasted). It is most often used by adults to describe someone who smokes marijuana on a regular basis, but among youth the term is used on a frequent basis and may not have the same amount of relation with drugs. Instead the term may share more similarities with a specific style of person, such as a hippy. This persona of the stoner-hippy is often depicted when discussing Israeli young adults who travel to India, as expressed in the TV series Eretz Nehaderet (A Magnificent Country). Specifically the stoner is often associated with the political party Ale Yarok. The stoner may have positive social connotations for youth, being a sign of coolness and popularity, but it may also have connotations of being lazy and a burnout (Eckert ???). It was never suggested that there exist ethnic, religious, or social class correlations with the stoner. It was suggested that the stoner does offer a great deal of social status, as many students described stoners as Magnivim (cool). The stoner appears to describe either the current actions of an individual (someone who is wasted), or someone belonging to a social subculture or counterculture of alternative styles and behaviors that contrast with mainstream youth.