The Israeli Names Law: National Integration and Military Rule

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The Names Law adopted by the Israeli Knesset in July 1956 established that Israeli citizens must bear a first name and family name. The adoption of Hebrew names was a key strand in Zionist ideology and part of the creation of a Hebrew culture and a national identity. Although the enactment of the Names Law formed part of the state policy of the Hebraization of names in the early 1950s and was directed at Jewish immigrants in general, and those from Arab and Muslim countries in particular, some of whom did not have a family name, it was intended mainly for the Palestinian Arab population that remained in Israel after the 1948 War and who lived under military rule. The Names Law can thus be understood as part of the strengthening of Israeli control and supervision of the Arab population during a period of state building, and as a process of social, cultural, and national integration that took place against the background of absorbing Jewish immigrants into the nation state.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-154
JournalIsrael Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016


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