Palestinian Ethnonationalism in Israel

Palestinian Ethnonationalism in Israel

Palestinian Ethnonationalism in Israel

Palestinian Ethnonationalism in Israel

Synopsis

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 foundations of that state.

Excerpt

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 and national minority in Israel, that the exclusive Jewish identity of the state be replaced with a binational institutional framework, that there be power-sharing institutional arrangements, and that the pai be granted extensive autonomy in a variety of cultural and social spheres. These demands, which had been only sporadically asserted in the past, have become the centerpiece of pai political activism in the last two decades.

Pai politics have not always been overtly ethnonationalist. Until the 1970s, the pai minority was described as quiescent. in the 1970s and 1980s, the minority mobilized mostly through the Communist Party for social equality and integration into the state such that the Minorities at Risk Project (MAR) classified it as an ethnoclass—a category that reflects an inferior socioeconomic status—rather than as a national minority. Although this minority’s political expression of nationhood is not an event that occurred suddenly, it is only since the 1990s that ethnically exclusive pai political and social organizations have been proliferating, increasingly mobilizing in the name of Palestinian nationalism in Israel, and making ethnonational demands on the state. What explains these transitions in the characteristics of pai political activism?

The theoretical issues that arise from the transition in pai mobilization strategies are not limited just to this case. Many disadvantaged ethnic minorities live in states dominated by majorities. Their mobilization strategies vary, as do the demands they make. Some groups demand the deethnicization of politics and public space, some embark on an ethnonationalist path, and some minority groups do not independently mobilize at all. in many . . .

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