Choosing Identity is an Act of Resistance

One of the most contentious issues for Palestinians in the conflict is identity, how a person sees him or herself in relation to society and the world. This is especially true for Palestinian Arabs living within Israel, holding Israeli citizenship.

They must decide whether to be Israeli Arabs, Arabs living in Israel, Palestinians living in Israel, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, 1948 Arabs, 1948 Palestinians… Each has a slightly different connotation and all are politically charged. The main division, no matter the label, is whether to take part in the Israeli system or to boycott it, to be an Israeli or a Palestinian.

Arabs assimilating into Israeli society face resentment and even rejection by their Palestinian brothers who see their adoption of Israeli identity as a betrayal.

To Palestinian nationalists on both sides of the Green Line, self-identifying Arab Israelis have traded their heritage for the promise of paltry social benefits and slightly enhanced status.

They give the establishment a chance to divide the Arab minority into “good Arabs” who assimilate and “bad Arabs” who insist on retaining their Palestinian identity.

Dividing the people like this makes it easier to marginalize the dissenters who refuse to submit to second-class status.

Thanks to Nijim Dabbour

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