The dissertation offers new insights into the daily life, political status, and worldviews of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel between 1948 and 1967. During this period, the state endowed this community with nominal citizenship while at the same time subjecting it to martial law and a wide array of discriminatory policies. At the center of my work is a careful reconstruction of the interactions between the Palestinian Arab citizens and Israeli state organs in four realms: movement restrictions, labor union activities, health care, and political expression. The dissertation focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian encounter at the military checkpoint, in the examination room of the government-run clinic, in the everyday tasks of the Palestinian Histadrut member, and in the worldview of the pro-Nasser cafï¿½ patron.
Along with newly declassified and previously inaccessible Israeli archival material, the dissertation also makes use of oral history interviews, private memoirs, and the printed press. In particular, this study disrupts the current scholarly and public discussions on the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel, which pit one claim against another: either the State of Israel has consistently oppressed and persecuted the Palestinians under its control, or it has overall functioned as a model democracy. In contrast, this research concludes that until 1967, Israeli officials of different ranks largely targeted Palestinians for absorption into the Israeli body politic through a protracted project of “subordinate integration.” The Palestinians for their part recognized the state by engaging in civic struggles premised on their citizenship and in the hopes of being treated as equals. The net effect was that the Palestinian Arab citizens became “Arab-Israelis.”
Analytically, the dissertation situates the Israeli-Palestinian case in the context of colonial and settler-colonial histories. The dissertation demonstrates how the historical pattern of Palestinian Arab subordinate integration into Israeli society differs from the experiences of other Arab societies subject to a European colonial power. The Jewish-Palestinian relationship in Israel during the years 1948-1967 is more comparable to settler-colonial patterns, such as the ones in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In other words, I contend that the integration of Palestinians into Israeli society is a manifestation of a settler-colonial assimilationist agenda.