Israel and Palestine In the Wake of Oslo’s Failure

Robert Blecher and Jeremy Pressman in the Boston Review:

Israel’s Palestinian leadership has articulated an increasingly oppositional voice ever since October 2000, when 12 Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed during protests at the outset of the second uprising. More recently, Arab intellectuals have published several documents that question the Jewish nature of the state. Some proposals prescribe radical individual equality for Arabs and Jews, whereas others would preserve group rights. The document that attracted the most attention—and opprobrium—was the December 2006 report “The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel.” The bulk of the report focuses on the quotidian sorts of discrimination faced by Israel’s Palestinian citizens, but reaction centered on the document’s caustic characterization of Zionism, as well as its demand for the recognition of Palestinians as “the indigenous people of the homeland” who have a right to “complete equality in the State on a collective–national basis.”

Such ideological opposition is interpreted as a material threat by the Israeli security apparatus. The director of the domestic security service made headlines in March when he insisted that he would use means that are normally reserved for fighting illegal activity against “elements who wish to harm the character of the State of Israel as a democratic and Jewish state, even if their activity is conducted through democratic means.”