Guardians of Arab rights? Palestinian extreme-nationalists vs Arab Israelis

In the latest issue of Mediterranean Politics I review Oded Haklai’s book Palestinian Ethnonationalism in Israel. Thus far, much of the literature on Palestinian activism has focused on the activism emanating from within the Palestinian territories, or actions taken by the international community. Haklai, however, shifts that focus and instead puts the spotlight on those Arabs that chose to remain in their lands and become citizens of the new state of Israel.

A lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast, Haklai scrutinises how this Israeli minority mobilised politically and what the catalysts for this development were. The book is particularly timely in light of Israel’s most recent electoral results. For the first time ever, the broad spectrum of smaller Arab parties united under one party, the Joint Arab List, and ascended as the third largest party in the Knesset. Haklai’s book is an important contribution and led the reviewer to the following analysis of Palestinian nationalists versus Arab Israelis:

“Haklai’s book comes at a point in time when the door to Palestinian statehood appears to be closing indefinitely. When this moment comes, when the two-state idea is permanently replaced by a one-state fait accompli, the only alternative that then remains for all the Arabs residing in these lands will be to work for their rights within the existing Israeli state structures. While many Palestinian nationalists throughout the years have dismissed the Arab Israelis as nothing but quislings, silently agreeing to the establishment of Israel in exchange for Israeli citizenship, this idea might be proven completely wrong. In the end, it might very well turn out that these ‘quislings’ are the ones who will have achieved most among all Arabs in advancing Arab rights in the lands that are now Israel.”

Read the whole article:

Brenner, Björn (2015) ‘Palestinian Ethnonationalism in Israel’, Mediterranean Politics, 20, No. 3.

Read more:

Arab citizens of Israel – Wikipedia

Haklai, Oded (2011) Palestinian Ethnonationalism in Israel, Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.