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Debating Islam in the Jewish State

The Development of Policy Toward Islamic Institutions in Israel

Alisa Rubin Peled

Publication Year: 2001

Covers Israel's policy toward Islamic institutions within its borders, 1948-2000. Using declassified documents from Israeli archives, Alisa Rubin Peled explores the development, implementation, and reform of the state’s Islamic policy from 1948 to 2000. She addresses how Muslim communal institutions developed and whether Israel formulated a distinct “Islamic policy” toward shari’a courts, waqf (charitable endowments), holy places, and religious education. Her analysis reveals the contradictions and nuances of a policy driven by a wide range of motives and implemented by a diverse group of government authorities, illustrating how Israeli policies produced a co-opted religious establishment lacking popular support and paved the way for a daring challenge by a grassroots Islamist Movement since the 1980s. As part of a wider debate on early Israeli history, she challenges the idea that Israeli policy was part of a greater monolithic policy toward the Arab minority.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Israeli Studies

Front Matter

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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures

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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xii

The ideas for this book developed over several years spent at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. My deepest gratitude goes to Professor William Graham who read endless drafts of the chapters and provided me with countless comments, ideas, and encouragement. His interest and commitment to the project played a major role in its completion. I would ...

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Chapter 1. Introduction

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pp. 1-16

Since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, policy towards Muslim communal institutions has been an infrequent subject of discussion at the highest levels of government and society. However, in recent years, the issue has gained increasing prominence as a vocal Islamist Movement has emerged to challenge the state-controlled Islamic establishment and to demand increased communal autonomy. The most prominent case to date involves a ...

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Chapter 2. The Rise and Fall of the Ministry of Minority Affairs

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pp. 17-40

In May 1948, during the opening days of the Israeli War of Independence, the debate over the future of the Arab minority in Israel began in an atmosphere of uncertainty about the future demographics of the Palestinian population. By the conclusion of the war in 1949, only 150,000 Palestinian Arabs would remain out of a prestate population of 800,000; moreover, Muslim community ...

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Chapter 3. ANew Rivalry: The Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Arab Affairs

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pp. 41-57

Mter Ben-Gurion abolished the Ministry of Minority Affairs in June 1949, it seemed likely that the Ministry of Religious Mfairs, with Dr. Hirshberg at the helm, would finally get the green light to administer Muslim affairs without interference. Hirshberg, having superseded Shitrit in the area of Muslim affairs, now adopted some of his former opponent's views concerning communal ...

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Chapter 4. Defining the Role of Shari' a Courts, Qadis, and Islamic Law

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pp. 59-73

The conflict over the appointment of Taher al-Tabari highlighted the need for legislation on the appointment of qadis and the jurisdiction of the shari'a courts.1 The issue of who had the authority to make qadi appointments was at the center of the debate over the degree of autonomy to be granted to the Muslim community in Israel and dominated the disputes over the Qadi Law ...

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Chapter 5. Protection of Holy Places: The Foreign Policy Dimension

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pp. 75-96

As a result of intrinsic international interest in the Holy Land, home to many of the sacred sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Israeli policy towards holy places faced constant global scrutiny. For the world, Israel's treatment of these sites provided a convenient barometer to measure the degree of the new state's commitment to its Proclamation of Independence pledge (14 May ...

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Chapter 6. Islamic Education in Israel

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pp. 97-120

Whereas the Ministry of Religious Affairs played a decisive role in defining policy towards most Islamic institutions, including shari'a courts and holy places, the Ministry of Education and Culture had near exclusive jurisdiction over Muslim education policy. The young, socialist state strictly relegated religion to two distinct domains: personal status and freedom of worship. ...

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Chapter 7. The Decline of the Religious Establishment and the Islamist Movement Challenge

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pp. 121-160

By the 1960s, the consequences of neglecting Islamic education in the schools became increasingly clear. Because of the Ministry of Education's exclusive mandate over religious instruction, no alternative sources of formal Muslim education existed in Israel, with one exception: the short-lived attempt by the five Muslim local advisory committees to offer summer courses for children. ...

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Chapter 8. Conclusion

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pp. 147-158

This study represents just the tip of the iceberg of the history of policy towards Muslim communal institutions in Israel. A lack of sufficient primary sources limited its scope, as most government documents for the years following 1967 remain classified, as do many earlier ones on controversial issues such as the waqf. Thus, only selected seminal policies could be examined in depth, leaving ...

Appendix 1

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pp. 159-160

Appendix 2

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pp. 162-164

Appendix 3

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pp. 165


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pp. 167-207


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pp. 209-227


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pp. 229-239

E-ISBN-13: 9780791490068
E-ISBN-10: 0791490068
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791450772
Print-ISBN-10: 0791450775

Page Count: 239
Publication Year: 2001

Series Title: SUNY series in Israeli Studies