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Israel and Its Arab Minority: A Special Case of an Interlocking Conflict Yitzhak Reiter Syracuse University Press, May 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Israel and Its Arab Minority: A Special Case of an Interlocking Conflict Yitzhak Reiter Syracuse University Press, May 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Israel and Its Arab Minority: A Special Case of an Interlocking Conflict Yitzhak Reiter Syracuse University Press, May 2009

2 Questions What are the factors determining escalation and de-escalation on the minority-majority relations in Israel? Why, in spite of all tensions between Arabs and Jews both inside Israel and in the Middle East in general, we still witness a relatively situation of co-existence?

3 Galillee 650,000 Triangle 230,000 Negev 130,000 Arab Minority in Israel West Bank Gaza Strip Total Arab Population: 1,100,000 Arabs in mixed Cities: (Acre, Haifa, Jaffa, Ramla, Lod) 90,000 Jordan Egypt

4 Interlocking Conflicts (Kriesberg) Conflicts connected over time and through shared issues and parties. The conflict may be regarded as one in a linked series of events of developments between adversaries with generations of enmity. They also may overlap and embed in each other. Consequences: Jewish-Arab relations in Israel are influenced by two major factors: 1. the situation in the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict 2. Government policies regarding minority rights

5 Unique Case of Minority-Majority Relations The only minority that is part of its state’s regional majority The minority mostly embraces solidarity with active enemies of their state such as Hamas and Hezbollah, while the state combats their flesh and blood brethren, the Palestinians Jewish nation-state gives legal preference in immigration laws and the State symbols.

6 How does the Jewish Nature Affect Minority Rights? As in many European democratic nation-states the dominant nation in the country (Jewish) has the right to keep its hegemony in the state’s public culture and national symbols as well as in immigration laws. Chief Justice Aharon Barak:“…the right of every Jew to immigrate to Israel in which Jews would consist a majority; Hebrew is the State’s central official language; the State’s main holydays and symbols reflect the national revival of the Jewish people; and the Jewish heritage is a leading component of its religious and cultural heritage (SCJ (Bagatz) 11280/02, Piskey Din 57 (4), 1: 101).” However, Arab leaders have difficulty in accepting them because they view themselves as the real original and only owners of the land

7 Government Policies: Land Settlement and Immigration Tawfiq Zayyad: “half a million people means one million hands which are able to combat occupation Land Day Protest March 30, 1976

8 Advantages of the Arab Minority Cultural rights more than many other ethnic and national minorities. Arabic names and Arab heritage (alongside Muslim or Christian manifestations) dominate the public sphere in Arab populated towns and villages. Public education in Arabic. Arabic language enjoy its formal legal status Special personal status tribunals for the various religious sects, Israeli Arabs, however have created their own nationalistic commemoration days: the Land Day on 30 March and the Nakba Day on May 15

9 Palestinization

10 What “Palestinization” means? Support for the Palestinian political agenda Solidarity with the intifada actions Palestinian narrative Political radicalization Identification with Palestinian symbols and institutions (Nakba) Advocacy and lobbying for the Palestinian cause

11 Example of the Interlocking Factor: MK Muhammad Barake ( Al-Hayat al-Jadida, ): We are an inseparable part of the Arab and Palestinian people and … to participate in the struggle of our people We are a Palestinian National minority in a state, which is hostile to our people [the Palestinians] and hostile to us as its citizens

12 Rami Ghara’s Memorial of Oct. 2000

13 What “Israelization” means? Promoting their goals from within the democratic system 73% of Jews and 94.3% of the Arabs accept living together with mutual respect and equal opportunities (Pittinski et al, 2007) Bi-lingual and bi-cultural Integration in the Israeli civil service, workplace, universities, shopping, restaurants, etc. Arab minister ( ), membership in Knesset commitees Center of Local Government plenum Jewish-Arab NGOs

14 Raam-Taal HadashBaladLikudKadima 13 Arab MKs In Israel Beitenu

15 Conclusion: Why Israelization? Democratization process Welfare system ( 53% of the Arabs are proud of Israel’s welfare policies compared with only 17% of the Jews, 2006 Patriotism Survey)Patriotism Survey Peace process Jewish iron wall No better alternative

16 Q & A

17 Future Vision Manifestos (2006-7) Manifestos view Israel as a colonial product and claim that Israel has the sole responsibility for the 1948 War and its “injustices” regarding the Palestinians. The documents also strongly reject the nature of the state as Jewish while suggesting in its place power-sharing or a bilingual and multi-cultural state. Demanding: – Return of expropriated land – Return of internal refugees – Equal partnership in decision-making

18 Prospects for Future Relations Bridging between Knesset and Adalah’s Draft Constitutions, Major debated issues: A – Definition/Character of the State B – Definition of the Arab minority – collective rights C – Immigration laws – who is entitled to citizenship in the State D – The political system – power-sharing and representation E – Representation in the public culture/sphere of the state (symbols etc.) F – Citizenship duties and allegiance G – Rights regarding past policies – restorative justice


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