From subjects to citizens: On educational reforms and the demarcation of the "Israeli-Arabs"

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Based on a critical analysis of the Arab educational policy, from Israel's independence to the 1970s, this article examines the pivotal role of the state in engendering the trends of Palestinianization and Israelization that arguably characterize the attitude of the Arab minority to the Israeli state. Exploring the educational reforms of the 1960s and 1970s, it shows the contingent relation between ethnicity and the state, and also, the interrelationship between the intra-Jewish and Jewish-Arab divides. Looking at the ethnicization of social relations not as a preordained upshot of primordial realities, the history of the reforms unravels the changing patterns of inclusion and exclusion that result in demarcating the Arab minority as both Israeli and Palestinian, and in constructing the oxymoronic category of "Israeli-Arabs". Seen from the perspective of the goals for Arab and Jewish education, this category manifests the internalization of the "Arab Question" and the shift in educational policy from preclusion to incorporation, but also the limits of inclusion. These goals thus epitomize the ways in which the new discourse of meritocracy (resulting from the liberalizing of the economy and society) had determined civic equality between Arab and Jewish citizens, but equally important, the seclusion of the Arab minority from both the Jewish (ethnic) society and the Palestinian (national) collective. In this sense, I argue, neither Israelization nor Palestinianization were a matter of choice. Rather, both constitute the inevitable dual path for social and political inclusion, limited as it is.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-291
Number of pages21
JournalCitizenship Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2005


  • Citizenship
  • Educational reform
  • Ethinicity
  • Palestinian minority in Israel
  • State universalism


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