Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel's Liberal Settler State

Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel's Liberal Settler State

Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel's Liberal Settler State

Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel's Liberal Settler State

Excerpt

Tawfiq Tubi had expected little from the meeting. It was an unseasonably warm morning in late October 1966 and the elected deputy was just months shy of entering his eighteenth year of service in the Israeli parliament. Until that day, the Palestinian communist had confronted “the Old Man,” as former Prime Minister and Defense Minister David Ben-Gurion was known, only in the Knesset chamber. Starting when he was just twenty-six years old, the young Arab activist from Haifa quickly rose to the helm of the struggle to end Israel’s systematic discrimination against the roughly 150,000 Palestinians who had managed to stay in or return to the country after its war of independence in 1948. During Tubi’s time on the floor, it was not uncommon for his fellow deputies—many of whom were immigrants from Eastern Europe—to shout him down. In the 1950s and 1960s, most Knesset members treated any political opposition from “an Arab” as a sign of impudence toward a nation that had been magnanimous enough not to deport him.

Although he had followed Tubi’s public statements over the years, BenGurion had refused to meet with his junior colleague privately while in office. If there was one conversation the former leader had wanted to avoid, it was the demand to end the military administration that he personally had insisted on maintaining in the roughly 104 Arab villages and towns that had survived the nakba, or catastrophe, as Palestinians refer to the wartime ethnic cleansing campaign that wiped their country off the map and rendered those who remained a sudden minority in the new state. Since then, Israel’s Palestinian citizens had come overwhelmingly to despise the military regime for its despotism, its contempt for due process, and its Big Brother-like insinuation into their lives . . .

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