Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Practical solidarity with Israel's Palestinian workers

Two campaigns for equal rights from Palestinian workers in Israel, both of which deserve your support:
Note: Terminology changed, due to e-mail from Daniel, which said:
"Hi B I am sending this privately regarding a blog entry you posted. Here some experience from my work with Wahat al Salam ~ Neve Shalom.

The term Israeli Arab is out of date... Most people to whom this term applies will refer to themselves as Palestinians with Israeli citizenship or Palestinian Israelis.

The BBC still refers to Arab villages in Israel because using the words Palestinians with Israeli citizenship is obviously upsetting some quarters... Palestinians say the words Arab Israeli denies them their identity as being part of the Palestinian people, which surely is part of the wider Israeli agenda to distinguish between the two.

In WaSNS sessions the issue often emerges and surprises Jewish Israelis who initially call this a betrayal of being a proper citizen of the state. They say if you want to be a Palestinian cross the border, and denounce your Israeli citizenship, Palestinians say they can be both, and have the right to be.

If you want you can publish this as a comment, so that others can learn the point, but I felt it appropriate to write it in a private email first.

3 comments:

Ahmed said...

Hmm. Israeli Palestinians not Israeli Arabs? Doesn't that feed into exactly the nationalist logic that you, Bob, so fiercely opposed in that epic comment thread a few posts back? "Arab Israeli" adds an ethnic qualifier to a legal nationality - in the way that, say, "black British" or "African American" or "Hispanic American" does. It makes no claims on nationhood, but does make a claim on the right of the ethnic group to full and equal citizenship. "Palestinian Israelis" or "Palestinians with Israel citizenship" is unsatisfying because it asserts a difference which is national not ethnic.

I'm also wondering what it does to the idea of a one-state solution. If Palestinian and Israeli are mutually exclusive, as the new formulation implies (I think), then there can be no single, bi-national state for both people, only the (impossible) division into two states.

Daniel of "Daniels Counter" said...

Ahmed I understand your rational. This is what most Palestinians do desire to be called. If you follow your own logic, than you would have to do the same to the term Israel / Israeli, and label it Jews of Israel, Jews of the middle East, or just Jews.and do without the two terms, Israel and Palestine. The word Jew itself refers to a national belonging, even if mixed with spiritual and religious doctrines. As to what you say about African Americans and Black British, note that people once said Negroes of the US, US-Blacks, later Afro-Americans, before it became African Americans. Now whilst Arab itself is not a derogative label, I disagree that Palestinian is a national reference only. Palestinians I know are at pains, even it may be a construct to some degree ( aren't all identities(to prove that Palestinian is also a cultural, and ethnic identity. This is important not just for obvious reasons, but also because the political context often claims, I am quoting Jewish right wing thought here, that Arabs should just go to one of the other Arab countries. Palestinian, or Palestinian Arab, or Palestinian Arab with Israeli citizenship links these Arabs with a specific location. The infamous transfer to other Arab lands is hence not an option. I believe that if one accepts that Jews and Palestinians both have a right to call Israel / Palestine their area of reference, it doesn't exclude different arrangements in how the two live in this area. But both have the right to identify as who they are, and to choose to live in freedom and respect of their identity, if that makes sense. Lastly the word Arab is certainly not without nationalistic overtones, as the projects of Nassrism and others clearly showed in teh idea of unification of Arabs (pan-Arabism. A Maroccan I know for example declared her ethnic identity as Arab, and her nationalist belonging to Morocco. I am sure there are palestinains that prefer to be called Arab likewise, or even Arab Israeli. The explanation I gave is not declarative on all. For example Israel makes claims to distinguish between Arabs and Bedouins and Druze communities, who to some degree have different ethnic routes in deed, but I have heard these identify as Arab, and as Palestinian, and as Israeli the same way..... depending who you speak to. Overall in my experience Israeli Palestinians, palestinian Israelis, or Palestinains with Israeli citizenship from a Palestinian perspective is the preferred reference by the people it refers to, even considering exceptions. It has even been noted on Wikipedia... I just saw.

Ahmed said...

I'm convinced!