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Palestinians in Israel’s ‘democracy’: The Judaization of the Galilee

Summary Points

  • The ‘Judaization of the Galilee’ refers to Israeli state and regional policies aimed at increasing the proportion of Jewish residents in relation to Palestinians in the Galilee, an area in the north of the country which retained a sizeable Palestinian population after 1948.
  • Judaizing the Galilee is just one element of Israel’s regime of control over its Palestinian citizens, who face systematic discrimination.
  • Palestinian citizens are routinely described as constituting a ‘demographic threat’.
  • Land expropriation and the establishment of Jewish communities have been the two main methods used for this Judaization process.
  • Issues facing Palestinian citizens of Israel are far less familiar to observers in the West than Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories.
  • The claim that Israel is ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ needs to be challenged by the facts of consistent, cross-party policies by successive Israeli governments aimed at ensuring Jewish hegemony vis-à-vis the Palestinians, in the areas under its control.

Introduction

The project of ‘Judaizing the Galilee’ commenced when the state [of Israel] was founded and has continued in various guises to the present day…1

Prof. Hillel Cohen, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The Judaization project is driven by the Zionist premise that Israel is a territory and a state that ‘belongs’ to, and only to, the Jewish people.2

Dr. Haim Yacobi, Ben Gurion University

Israel’s regime of systematic discrimination against its Palestinian citizens, who make up 20 percent of the population, remains a marginalised issue. This is for a number of reasons, but one of them is the way in which many ‘liberal’ critiques of Israel focus almost exclusively on the military occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza Strip. Thus in a similar way to the international community’s official ‘peace process’, the question of Palestine is dramatically diminished, to the exclusion of two groups of Palestinians ‑ the refugees and Israeli citizens. According to these boundaries of accepted censure, it was the post-1967 occupation which ‘corrupted’ Israel, and the timeline of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians starts with the first settlement housing units in the West Bank of the late 1960s, rather than with Deir Yassin and Ramla in 1948. Israel and its lobbyists have long portrayed the state as ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’, understanding the propaganda value of all its accompanying associations for the policy makers and the general public in the West. A deeper understanding of Israel’s policies with regards to its Palestinian minority is crucial to exposing the ‘only democracy’ formulation, as well as contributing towards a reintegration of our analysis of Palestine/Israel. Though the ‘Judaization’ of the Galilee is one aspect of the Israeli state’s relationship with its Palestinian citizens since 1948, it can help illuminate policy decisions made under Israeli apartheid rule from Nazareth and Umm al-Fahm, to Bil’in and Hebron.

This paper is accessible through the Middle East Monitor website here.

The paper can be downloaded as a PDF file from this link.

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