The social structure of contemporary Israel has been shaped by a variety of forces and circumstances. Israel inherited some institutions and customs from the Ottomans and some from the British mandatory rule over Palestine. Zionists who strove to build the Yishuv under Ottoman and British rule also wielded influence. Immigration patterns have altered the social structure radically at different times. From 1882 to 1948, Israel received many immigrants from Eastern Europe and Central Europe. Following independence, huge numbers of Middle Eastern, North African, and Asian Jews came to the new state and altered its dominant Ashkenazi cast. Another shaping force was the presence of non-Jews in the Jewish state--a growing Arab minority within the pre-1967 borders of Israel and an absolute majority in the territories held under military occupation since the June 1967 War. Finally, among the most important forces shaping contemporary Israeli society is religion.
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