The new Palestine Authority that came out of the Oslo process led some Arabs in Israel to shy away from too strong an identification with the new Palestinian regime. In fact, the degree of their identification with the Israeli state actually appeared to grow as it become apparent that basic human rights suffered under the rule of the Palestinian Authority. When rumors surfaced toward the end of the Oslo process in 2000 about a possible land swap between Israel and a new Palestinian state, Israel’s Arabs expressed overwhelming opposition to their own towns being included in the trade.
Baruch Kimmerling, Joel S. Migdal
The Palestinian People: A History
Odd Man Out: Arabs in Israel
I had heard this but not really believed it. This is huge! Also, prior to reading this book I didn’t realize Arab Israelis were so different from Palestinians living in the occupied territories, but now I realize there are huge differences. For instance, they didn’t participate in the Intifadas.
From the same chapter:
The Arab citizens of Israel have sat in a vortex of cross-pressures, and, not surprisingly, they have responded to their dilemma with seemingly contradictory views and actions. They have continued to recognize the legitimacy of Israel in overwhelming numbers (in a 2001 survey, over 50 percent answered “yes” and another 33.7 percent answered “yes with reservations” to a question asking about their support for Israel’s existence). Those numbers were only a slight decline from the 93.3 percent total in 1995. They have seen their futures as being in Israel, not in a Palestinian state. Over three-quarters in the 2001 survey said they wanted to continue to be citizens of Israel. As one Israeli Palestinian researcher concluded, “They see their place, future, and organizational situation, as well as the bodies that represent them, as distinct from those of the Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and diaspora. This means that the Palestinians in Israel see themselves as Israeli citizens who will continue to live in the country and are not willing to move to another country, not even to a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
The unique Arab culture that formed in Israel has been different from the general Palestinian culture, but it also has been part of it. Palestinian national culture has struggled since the late 1980s with the question of Jewish rights, especially exclusive rights, over land in Palestine. To that struggle, the Palestinian citizens of Israel have brought a deep understanding of the complexity of relations between the two peoples. They have recognized the heterogeneity and variety of cultures in Israel and have shied away from the practice in many Arab countries and other Palestinian communities of demonizing the state or the Jews. As the odd man out, the Palestinian citizens of Israel hold the promise of a new bridge to the future.
And a factoid: there were 1.3 million Palestinians in Palestine before the ’48 war, more than 50% of which wound up in the West Bank after the war.
I’m almost done with the book and I’m really impressed by how unflinchingly it depicted the atrocities committed on both sides of the conflict, as well as the depth that it gives to the highly heterogeneous group that are the Palestinians. It was super informative and I’m glad I read it.