The Intifada and the new political role of the Israeli Arab leadership

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This article considers two diametrically opposed issues: on the one hand, the complex issue of the relationship between Israeli Arabs and the State of Israel, and on the other, the question of their ties to their fellow Palestinians residing in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The study attempts to define the fundamental change in political behaviour patterns among Israeli Arabs, to evaluate the processes that preceded this change, and to predict its immediate and long-term results. This change is not exclusively a consequence of the uprising; this period only brought to fruition processes already in motion. During the years of the Intifada, Israeli Arabs devised a unique way of synthesizing traditional symbols. They combined traditional dress codes, strict adherence to religious commandments, and family ties with the adoption of national values as alternative symbols of identity. In addition, Arab participation in the Israeli educational system increased, and professional ties between Arab and Jewish settlements in Israel were expanded. All of these elements define more sharply the issue under investigation: Have Israeli Arabs, in fact, developed their own unique identity? Is it true that there is no longer any reason to examine the issue of 'Palestinization' (incorporation into the Palestinian people) versus 'Israelization' (complete integration into the Israeli system)? In effect, through intentional and spontaneous combination of these two elements, Israeli Arabs have created a new identity and new behaviour patterns that have conferred them renewed importance among Israelis and Palestinians alike. This issue will be examined on two fronts: Israeli Arab involvement in the established political system in Israel and the development of an independent and separate political system with its own foreign policy directed primarily at interchange with the PLO, the Palestinian Authority after 1994 and the Palestinian population in the territories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-164
Number of pages31
JournalMiddle Eastern Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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