This is a short, readable guide to the realities of life for Palestinian citizens of Israel. Notionally equal, they suffer widespread discrimination. It is, White argues, systematic, not accidental – built into the fabric of the so-called ‘Jewish and democratic’ state.
The burdens to which Palestinian citizens of Israel are subject are explored under five headings: the nature of the state; the land regime; the ‘demographic threat’; discrimination in other aspects of daily life; and how the system in Israel thwarts democratic change.
When the Jewish and democratic aspects of the state are perceived to be in conflict, it is the former that trumps the latter. Any attempt to advocate change to make Israel into a state of all its citizens is widely perceived as a threat to the very existence of the state itself. Discrimination is seen most clearly in the areas of citizenship and land rights, but it expresses itself in almost every aspect of daily life – education, government and private employment, and a pervasive racism on the streets.
All Jews, no matter where they live, are by definition entitled to Israeli citizenship; most Palestinians are not. Following 1947, the Palestinians that remained as notionally ‘full citizens’ of the state of Israel cannot in reality live in over 90 per cent of the country. Efforts to Judaise the Galilee and the Negev have been intensified in response to Palestinian population growth – perceived as a ‘demographic threat’ – with Jewish settlements built up around the Palestinian population or Palestinians forced off their land entirely.
The book also outlines how Palestinian citizens are on average much poorer and less well-educated, and have a much lower percentage of state and municipal funding directed their way than do Jewish citizens. Israel is, White shows, not a genuine democracy but an ethnocracy: ‘The truth is that policies that would be considered grotesquely racist applied in other contexts are routine and institutionalised in Israel.’
This is an important book, dealing with a much-neglected but key aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
‘Never again!’ says Germany’s anti-national movement Raphael Schlembach reviews Against the Nation: Anti-National Politics in Germany, by Robert Ogman
Classic book: Further fragments As Beyond the Fragments by Sheila Rowbotham, Lynne Segal and Hilary Wainwright is set to be republished, Jane Wills looks at its significance
Cruel Britannia: Brute detail Cruel Britannia: a secret history of torture, by Ian Cobain, reviewed by Frances Webber
Tapping the resistance in Greece A combination of opposing privatisation and putting forward practical alternatives is helping water campaigners mount an effective challenge to austerity in Greece. Hilary Wainwright reports
The seven faces of Michael Gove Mike Peters looks at how the Tory education secretary uses the words and ideas of the left to win support for his policies
The Brighton pay dispute: the union view GMB union organiser Rob Macey puts the workers' side of the argument
The pay dispute at Brighton council: a Green view Davy Jones, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Brighton Kemptown, gives his view of a dispute that has caused huge debate among Green Party members in the city and across the country
Jeremy Hardy thinks… about the right to exist 'We’d all say a person has a right to a home, but we wouldn’t say their home has rights.'