EARLY ON IN MY STUDY I wrote to a prominent Israeli academic asking for his suggestions regarding my research on Palestinians serving in the Israeli armed forces. He emailed me back:
I don't know what…you're talking [about]. Except [for] about a dozen…
volunteers no Palestinians serv[e] in the Israeli military. Druze and Circassians
are drafted and several hundreds of Bedouins (and perhaps some Arab Chris-
tians) serv[e] as volunteers. However [to the best of my] knowledge none of
them perceived themselves as “Palestinian.” If you're searching for arabs in
the Israeli military, this is another issue.
This brief note reflects the complex and contentious politics of naming when it comes to Palestinians living inside the 1948 borders of Israel. Although “Palestinian” is at one level a subcategory of the larger regional identity “Arab,” there is potentially more meaning to one's choice of terms.
According to an Amazon book reviewer, an earlier book of mine was biased against the Israeli government because I refer “to Israeli-Arabs as 'Palestinians'—a label that is not only inaccurate but also deliberately offensive to Israelis.” According to the reviewer, “in today's context, the term 'Palestinians' refers strictly to residents of the West Bank, Gaza, and displaced refugees outside of Israel…. Labeling Israeli-Arabs as