Widely regarded as expert in techniques of surveillance and political control, Israel has been successful in controlling a native population for a long time. Despite tremendous challenges, it has maintained a tight grip over a large Palestinian population in the territories it occupied in the 1967 war. Moreover, it has effectively contained the Palestinian minority inside its 1948 borders. This book discusses the foundation of an Israeli discourse about the Palestinian minority, which Israeli leaders called birour or clarification, and the circumstances of its emergence and crystallization. It talks about the policy of constructing the Palestinians both as non-Jews and as an assortment of insular minorities. The fate of this minority was not only an Israeli internal affair but also an issue of concern to the international community. An analysis of the legal and institutional frameworks, and the role of state power in categorizing the Palestinians, follows. The book also analyses the ways state control and surveillance were implemented at the level of the locality. The book highlights the way state educational policy not just fostered the segmentation described earlier but promoted among students and educators. It then takes up the question of political rights and their meaning under the rule of Military Government. It concludes with personal reflections on the thousands of minutes, protocols, reports, plans and personal messages.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book deals with the period that extends between the summer of 1948 and circa 1970. It discusses the foundation of an Israeli discourse about the Palestinian minority, which Israeli leaders called birour or clarification, and the circumstances of its emergence and crystallization. The book also deals with the translation of this discourse into policy guidelines, principles and comprehensive plans. It analyses the legal and institutional frameworks through which the Palestinians were governed. The book also discusses the policy of constructing the Palestinians both as non-Jews and as an assortment of insular minorities. The book explains how Arab Knesset members (MKs) were chosen and what authority and representativeness they had in light of the building and maintenance of a control system.
In the autumn of 1948, while the eventful war was drawing to an end, David Ben-Gurion, who led the organized Jewish community, the Yishuv, to what has been described in the media and history books as a miraculous victory. Beyond the contingencies of the first elections, the question regarding the existence of a Palestinian minority in Israel needed thorough evaluation. Indeed, various meetings took place throughout the next three years, 1949 to 1952, with the participation of leading politicians and Arabists. MK Zalman Aran raised two points: the first, on the Arab leadership, a focal point in the emerging Israeli discourse. The second, regarding the representations and the stereotyping of Palestinians in Israeli society and media, an issue which would be disregarded for several decades. Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, a politician and Arabist and later the second President, highlighted certain aspects of the Israeli discourse, particularly with regard to demography.
This chapter discusses the way in which Israeli discourse was translated into clear and firm policy principles. During the 1948 War, Israeli leaders endeavoured to achieve the ethnic cleansing of the majority of Palestinians. Having transformed the country demographically and constructed a ring of Palestinian-free areas along the new borders, the state had isolated Palestinians in Israel from the refugees and the rest of the Arab world. A committee composed of central figures in surveillance and control apparatuses (SCA) was established to study and analyse the state's strategy and goals towards the Palestinian minority and to present a comprehensive plan for dealing with it. The imposition of the Military Government on the Palestinian populated areas was justified by pressing security considerations. The severe living conditions of Palestinians under this regime were deemed unavoidable.
If discourses and policy plans were to be implemented, they ought to be couched within a legal framework and to be implemented by specialized institutions. Israel's first piece of legislation passed soon after the declaration of Israel's independence was the Law and Administration Ordinance published on 19 May 1948. This affirmed the continuity of the legal system that had existed hitherto, including the Mandatory Emergency Regulations of 1945, except those which restricted Jewish immigration. In fact, the state of emergency in Israel has never been revoked, and the emergency regulations, which curtail the rule of law, were enforced almost exclusively on the Palestinians by a Military Government that was imposed on the Palestinian-populated areas. In various aspects, the Military Government, along with the other institutions, embodied and gave expression to conditions and practices of a panopticon.
This chapter describes the role that state power has played, through deliberate planning and direct action, in engineering a social order where 'ethnic' categories have been presented as the central or the only form of identification for Palestinians. This constructed order is premised on two representations of the Palestinians: as non-Jews and as a collection of minorities. In 1920, 'the Intelligence Office' of the Zionist Executive's political department in Palestine laid down a plan to manipulate the differences and stir up conflicts among Palestinians. To many Palestinians, the causes for suspicion of the Druze were real, given the tasks entrusted to Druze soldiers. The highlighting of the Druze distinction had already begun in 1948 with one of the first acts of distinguishing the Druze from the Muslims.
The subdivision which the Israeli surveillance and control apparatuses identified as a 'natural category', through which surveillance could be exercised, is the locality. It is a spatially defined unit, fairly manageable, and despite plausible differences among the inhabitants, it is bound by common interests and local institutions. Through their financing of the local authorities, which were used as a subsidiary arm for surveillance and political control, the Palestinians became participants in their own subjection to political control. One issue of grave concern to the Arabists was the changes in the Palestinian society, particularly the generational change. Kafr Yassif was an unusual case among Arab villages in one major respect. It was the only village with an elected local authority which continued to exist after the establishment of the State of Israel.
This chapter discusses the practices of surveillance and control at the individual level which aimed to affect the ways through which Palestinians form their views and attitudes through formal education and informal learning. Educational institutions have been widely regarded in modern times as the appropriate settings through which certain ideas could be propagated and become hegemonic by acquiring a status akin to the laws of nature. Education for the Palestinians and its plausible impact generated various debates and gave rise to diverse opinions. Abba Hushi served as the chairman of Mapai's Arab department in the 1960s. He composed a comprehensive plan on 20 May 1960 to solve myriad aspects of the Palestinian minority's status in Israel, particularly in education. In 1958/1959, Palestinian students established their own society, the Arab Students Committee.
This chapter describes the relationships between Israeli goals of political control and population management and the political rights which were granted to the Palestinians. The ethnic representation of the various ethnicities meant enhancing and solidifying the constructed ethnic identities at the expense of the more inclusive Palestinian affinity. The role of the Military Government and other state apparatuses in ensuring Palestinians' vote for Mapai was clear to those in charge of the surveillance apparatuses. Although elevated to their position by those in charge of the surveillance apparatuses, Palestinian Knesset members (MKs) were referred as the representatives of the Arab minority. The Israeli Communist Party (ICP) occupied a unique position in Israeli politics. It was a Jewish-Arab party, though unlike other Jewish-Arab settings such as municipalities of mixed cities, student unions or the Histadrut, it was not dominated by Mapai, and within it, the Palestinians were not secluded.
This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in this book. The book describes the Israeli policies of population management, surveillance and political control. In 1958, a decade after the state's establishment, a comprehensive plan of governance was laid down. Its principles continued, with some elaborations and insertions, to constitute the basis of Israeli policy towards the Palestinian minority. The evolvement of various aspects of Palestinians' lives in Israel could be viewed as a history of state power-driven governance strategies and resistance by Palestinians. Moreover, the majority of the Druze population has been reluctant to join Palestinian organizations. Indeed, many factors besides the historical backdrop were adversely related to the official Israeli discourse and policy guidelines. Some of these variables were general, such as the subjective images of the world that human beings hold and their resistance to imposed categorizations.