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Palestinian Ethnonationalism in Israel

By Oded Haklai

Publication Year: 2011

Arabs make up approximately 20 percent of the population within Israel's borders. Until the 1970s, Arab citizens of Israel were a mostly acquiescent group, but in recent decades political activism has increased dramatically among members of this minority. Certain activists within this population claim that they are a national and indigenous minority dispossessed by more recent settlers from Europe. Ethnically based political organizations inside Israel are making nationalist demands and challenging the Jewish foundations of the state. Palestinian Ethnonationalism in Israel investigates the rise of this new movement, which has important implications for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a whole.

Political scientist Oded Haklai has written the first book to examine this manifestation of Palestinian nationalism in Israel. Drawing on extensive fieldwork and interviews with key figures, Haklai investigates how the debate over Arab minority rights within the Jewish state has given way to questioning the foundational principles of that state. This ground-breaking book not only explains the transitions in Palestinian Arab political activism in Israel but also presents new theoretical arguments about the relationship between states and societies. Haklai traces the source of Arab ethnonationalist mobilization to broader changes in the Israeli state, such as the decentralization of authority, an increase in political competition, intra-Jewish fragmentation and a more liberalized economy.

Palestinian Ethnonationalism in Israel avoids oversimplified explanations of ethnic conflict. Haklai's carefully researched and insightful analysis covers a neglected aspect of Israeli politics and Arab life outside the West Bank and Gaza. Scholars and policy makers interested in the future of Israel and peace in the Middle East will find it especially valuable.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Series: National and Ethnic Conflict in the 21st Century


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pp. vii-vii

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Note on Transliteration

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pp. ix-ix

There is no unanimity regarding the best approach to transliteration of Arabic. In this book, I sought to balance between academic conventions and accessibility to non-Arabic speakers. Diacritical marks for Hamzah and ‘Ayn are used, except for where persons or organizations have a preferred spelling of their name in English or are commonly known by a different transliteration (thus...

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pp. 1-12

Palestinian ethnonational political activism in Israel has increased dramatically in recent decades. Since the early 1990s, numerous ethnically exclusive Palestinian Arab political parties and organizations have emerged, making ethnic claims on the state. These groups are demanding that the state recognize the Palestinian Arab Citizens of Israel (PAI) as an indigenous...

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1. Transitions in Minority Political Activism, Grievances, and Institutional Configurations

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pp. 13-35

The transformation of PAI political mobilization has been manifested in changing demands, as well as in the intensity and the channels through which the demands are made. During the first two decades of Israel’s existence, the PAI were compliant. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, the Communist Party, which claimed to be biethnic and to...

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2. State Formation and the Creation of National Boundaries

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pp. 36-52

State characteristics that influence minority politics do not just appear. They are largely shaped by the societal context that exists during their creation. The period of state formation constitutes a juncture that sets the path for long-term relationships and practices. During the process of state-building, the institutional foundations of the state are established and the foundational...

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3. State Autonomy, Marginalization, and Grievances

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pp. 53-70

The process of state formation engendered ethnically based national boundaries that excluded the Arab residents. Inheriting the prestate institutional framework, the new Israeli state lacked autonomy from the Jewish national movement, which controlled its institutions. Lack of state autonomy was manifested in the ideological framework of the state and the societal identity of the officeholders...

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4. From Quiescence to the Communist Party

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pp. 71-111

Arab politics transitioned dramatically within three decades. The ethnically defined nationalism of the prestate period was replaced by relative quiescence in the first two decades that followed Israel’s independence. In the 1950s and 1960s, most Arab elites were concerned with guaranteeing immediate local interests and complied with ruling stratum practices...

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5. The Ethnonational Turn

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pp. 112-145

In October 2000, thousands of Arab citizens of Israel took to the streets to demonstrate in solidarity with the second Palestinian uprising, or intifada, which had erupted several days earlier in the West Bank and Gaza. The protests soon turned into a violent clash between the police and the demonstrators, resulting in the death of twelve PAI protestors. Marking a significant deviation from PAI behavior during the first intifada, which amounted...

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6. The Changing Israeli State-Society Relations

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pp. 146-172

Distinctive mutability in some state institutions—and not in others—has been conducive to the rise of Palestinian ethnonationalist politics in Israel. Israeli society, economy, and politics further liberalized in recent decades and concurrently political authority continued to disperse away from the central government. State extensiveness has declined and the state is no...

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pp. 173-178

Israeli society remains deeply divided along ethnonational lines. The PAI minority has always had to face Jewish ownership of the state, yet only in recent decades has PAI politics widely confronted the lack of state neutrality by making ethnonational claims, challenging the state’s foundational principles as a Jewish state, and demanding a distinct and expansive autonomous space....


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pp. 179-205


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pp. 207-232


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pp. 233-239

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pp. 241-243

When I decided to write a book about the evolution of Arab political activism in Israel, I knew I would be dealing with highly sensitive issues. Indeed, one will be hard pressed to find studies of political issues that are as embroiled in normative controversies as those relating to Palestinian-Jewish relations. Several years ago, a leading Arab political figure, whose identity shall remain...

E-ISBN-13: 9780812204391
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812243475

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: National and Ethnic Conflict in the 21st Century
Series Editor Byline: Brendan O'Leary, Series Editor See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 793012554
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Palestinian Ethnonationalism in Israel

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Palestinian Arabs -- Israel -- Government relations.
  • Palestinian Arabs -- Political activity -- Israel.
  • Palestinian Arabs -- Government policy -- Israel.
  • Arab-Israeli conflict -- 1993-.
  • Israel -- Politics and government [MARC+97][MARC+86]ý 1993-.
  • Israel -- Ethnic relations.
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