- Palestinians in Israel — The Victory of Discourse vs. the Retreat of Politics
Over the past two years, the number of publications regarding the situation of the Palestinians in Israel has increased dramatically: hundreds of articles have been published, several conferences have discussed their situation, and the issue has received attention in a number of important books. Each publication from this new series of books about the Palestinian minority in Israel is a unique contribution to the scholarly work regarding the historical context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on one side, and to our understanding of the historical context of the development of the triangular relationship between the state of Israel, the Jewish majority, and the Palestinian citizens of Israel, on the other.
The Palestinians who became Israeli citizens following the Nakba in 1948 choose to continue living in Israel as Israeli citizens, despite suffering from being on the margins of their own group, the Palestinian people, and on the margins of mainstream Israeli development. The recent series of books takes this point as a basis for analyzing and understanding the political situation of the Palestinians in Israel. While for most of the authors, the historical roots of the conflict are highly relevant, for some the salient moments are the 1948 Nakba and ensuing events. However, all of them are aware, in different degrees, of the relevance of the general Palestinian-Israeli conflict to the situation between the majority and the minority living within the so-called “green line.”
While many readers of these books will find interesting points other than those discussed in this review article, I choose to draw attention to two main issues: the different theoretical approaches employed by the authors and the centrality of the future vision as the collective agenda of the Palestinians in Israel. [End Page 361]
Different Theoretical and Scholarly Approaches
The five books under consideration use different theoretical approaches in order to understand the general context of the political developments of the Palestinians in Israel. This is not a new phenomenon; novel theories constantly add another layer to the old ones, and I’m sure that in the near future we will see additional books and studies that will add to the current ones. Previous books, articles, academic reports, and studies about Palestinian minority politics which offer their own theoretical and analytical frameworks, such as works by Peres, Lustick, Zureik, Miaari, Landau, Smooha, Falah, Rekhess, Al-Haj, Rabinowitz, Rieter, Krezmer, Gavison, Peled, Rouhana, Ghanem, Hertzog, Yiftachel, and many other important scholars in this domain, must always be considered when talking about academic work and scholarly publications in this topic, as each of them brings his own unique point of view and academic contribution. Without these past important works, we could not imagine the current wave of scholarly works and publications. Mindful of this, I will present the main arguments that are raised by the authors of the most recently published books.
In their book, Peleg and Waxman refer to the interaction between the external Palestinian-Israeli conflict as the main explanation for the political transformation of Palestinians in Israel. In their words: “our main claim in the book is that growing ethno-national conflict within Israel today between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs should be viewed as part of the larger conflict between Israel and the Palestinians” (p. 5). They continue with this point by concluding that “This [the case of Palestinians in Israel] is not just an issue of domestic importance to Israel that threatens the country’s internal stability...