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Strangers in Their Homeland A Critical Study of Israel's Arab Citizens

by Ra'anan Cohen

Strangers in Their Homeland A Critical Study of Israel's Arab Citizens Synopsis

Too little is written about the ethnic-nationalist identity crisis between the State of Israel and its Arab citizens which becomes intensified with every regional event -- from the US invasion of Iraq, to the second Lebanon war. The author addresses this lacunae by providing a detailed account of the situation of the Arab population of Israel: their political and electoral ambitions, their extended families/tribes, their lands, their political personalities, their society, and their hopes for the future. Beginning with the time when the Arabs were encouraged to belong to 'satellite' factions under the auspices of the Labor Party, up to the fiercely nationalist Arab parties of today, former Member of Israel's Knesset and Cabinet Minister, Dr Ra'anan Cohen examines the political changes that have taken place in the Israeli Arab community over recent decades. His unparalleled viewpoint and access as a researcher, and as former head of the Labour Party's Minorities Commission, provides Israel's decision-makers with meticulously researched data on the political and national challenges that need to be addressed as they take a long overdue look at how better to incorporate Israel's Arab Citizens into the Jewish homeland. This task is deemed by Israeli politicians of all persuasions to be critical to the long-term security of the State of Israel. STRANGERS IN THEIR HOMELAND is essential reading for all people interested and involved in Middle East affairs.

Strangers in Their Homeland A Critical Study of Israel's Arab Citizens Press Reviews

We shall never be able to come to terms with ourselves so long as Israel's minority populations - in every way our fellow citizens - feel themselves discriminated against. A Jewish state in which there is discrimination is inconceivable. Under such circumstances there can never be peace, nor complete equality. ... In his book, Ra'anan Cohen analyzes the existing social rifts and also points out the right solutions to them. His book is built upon a wealth of experience and knowledge, together with a convincing analytical aptitude. --Shimon Peres, The President of Israel A retired Israeli politician presents an analysis of the complex situation of Arab citizens in Israel by discussing several models accounting for their status and loyalties; a history of their political organizations (e.g., the Allied Arab lists, al-Arad movement); and new Arab Israeli movements, trends, and divisions including the Islamic movement. The book includes a foreword by Israeli President Shimon Peres in which he states that 'We shall never be able to come to terms with ourselves so long as Israel's minority populations ... feel themselves discriminated against, ' election statistics by ethnic voting bloc, a map of Israel, and photos. --Reference & Research Book News Cohen's book sustains no particular argument or claim beyond the portrait of threatened and uncomfortable Jewish domination over an Arab population increasingly drawn toward radical or rejectionist postures with respect to Israel as a Jewish-Zionist state. He summarizes his position quite pessimistically, observing that 'the Jewish-Arab rift is too multi-faceted for attempts on the part of Jews and Arabs to overcome the discrepancy between Israel's definition of itself as a Jewish state and its concept of itself as a democracy to succeed'. At the end of the book, however, Cohen offers recommendations for the future which together are almost a non-sequitur to the entire volume, including the summary observation I have just quoted. After showing that all previous plans for setting Arab-Jewish relations on a clear foundation have been shelved or ignored, he outlines his own new plan for doing so, including a social charter that would 'determine agreed-upon rules on issues of dissent ... the charter will become a binding administrable document'; include the Arab parties in governing coalitions; granting of a measure of 'political autonomy' to the Arab-Palestinian minority; build Arab language and culture into Jewish curricula; and, most amazingly, establish compulsory national service that would create 'a melting pot' for 'as many youngsters as possible, Arabs and Jews'. ...In Cohen's treatment, peace between Israel and the Palestinians will do nothing decisive to solve the problem of Arab discontent and inequality within Israel. These books are most valuable as data about how the discourse among Israeli experts on the 'Arab problem' has changed and how it has not over the last 60 years. Each provides fascinating and previously undocumented details associated with the author's personal engagement with the issue. --Middle East Journal This is a relatively rare critical study of relations between the Arab population and the non-Arab minority population of Israel. Cohen provides a detailed account of the political and social lives of Arabs in Israel. It is thus unique. Cohen (chair, Board of the Industrial Development Bank of Israel) is Iraqi-born and has served in various political and parliamentary positions, including minister of Labour and Social Affairs and head of the Labour Party's Minorities Commission. He has thus been well positioned to observe the hostilities between Arabs and Jews, some for the very first time. Issues such as whether it is more accurate to regard Jews as a minority in the Arab Muslim world or as a non-Islamic religious group in the Arab community come to the fore. The book is up-to-date, taking into account the most recent conflicts among the groups. Recommended. --Choice

Book Information

ISBN: 9781845192679
Publication date: 18th December 2008
Author: Ra'anan Cohen
Publisher: Sussex Academic Press
Format: Paperback / softback
Pagination: 277 pages
Categories: Regional studies,

About Ra'anan Cohen

Ra'anan Cohen was born in Iraq and came to Israel as a youth. From an early age he played an active role in Israeli politics and has been a member of consecutive Israeli Knessets (parliaments), in which he held various parliamentary positions, including Minister of Labour and Social Affairs. He also served a term as Secretary General of the Israel Labour Party. Ra'anan Cohen holds a PhD from Tel Aviv University and, having retired from politics, he presently serves as Chairman of the Board of the Industrial Development Bank of Israel.

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